More BARBARIAN DAYS: In the South Pacific

The cast of characters in William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is very New Age-y hippie. It’s been a long while since self has encountered one of these, which means San Francisco has really changed.

Anyhoo, Finnegan and a friend go bouncing all over the South Pacific, searching for good waves. And they have very, very interesting encounters.

With an American missionary who is also a surfer. With locals who take an “anthropological interest” in the author and his traveling companion, Bryan. Finnegan and his friend are so obsessed that when they find a good surfing spot, in Tonga, they surf every day.

Surfing seems magical when you’re just watching. Here’s the reality:

  • My hands and feet were a salad russe of coral cuts, and Bryan had a large, raw scrape on his back, the dressing on which I changed twice a day.

There’s a type of pairing I’ve seen on Boracay:

  • One of Parker’s oil field managers was a big, thick-spectacled Texan named Gene. He had a face like a turkey wattle, a scary smoker’s voice and a local girlfriend who was seventeen. Gene was pushing sixty. His girlfriend was a knockout but not happy. I overheard her telling the wife of a Parker executive that she was a half-Fijian orphan, and therefore a social outcast in homogeneous Tonga. She had turned to prostitution, she said. She was now desperate to get away from Gene. “Help me! Help me!” she pleaded.

As for the king of Tonga, Tupou IV: “He was an absolute monarch who weighed, reportedly, 440 pounds.”

Fascinating stuff.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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