Thursday, January 28, 2016

#TBT: Take all the money in the bank, I think I'll just stay here and drink*

In college, my general rule of thumb when it came to alcohol consumption was that I had about a four to five hour window - if I started drinking in the early afternoon, say, if we were hanging out at Chris Greene Lake on a lazy sunny day, I would be done and ready to go to bed by early evening.  If I was heading to the Corner with my sorority sisters and we left the house at 10 p.m., I was good for a late night.

Which is why it was kind of astounding to me that on a hot, sunny day in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, at the ripe old age of 31 - when the tolerance I had built up in my early 20s was long in the past - and with my mother, no less, I was partying for 12 hours straight with no ill effects.

I was in PNG visiting my mom, who was serving there as the U.S. ambassador.  After hanging out with her for a couple of days in Port Moresby, we took a trip out to the island of New Britain to get some beach time and scuba diving in.  We stayed in Rabaul at the Kaivuna Resort Hotel, which was owned by an Aussie couple.  My mom had stayed there before and knew Bev and Brian, the proprietors, and they treated us like family.

Which meant that they expected us to start drinking with them immediately.  Because that was what they and their friends did - they drank.  All day long.

We had been in our rooms after checking in for about 20 minutes and were unpacking our suitcases and thinking about what to do for dinner when the phone rang.  It was Brian.

"You gails comin dan to th' baaah?"

It doesn't quite work if you don't imagine it with the heavy Aussie accent.

"We'll be there!" I responded.

So we went down to the bar.  We had burgers for dinner, which was good because we needed something in our bellies other than all the beer we ended up drinking.  And we met the motley crew of Australian and New Zealander expats that formed their little community.  They were of different ages and professions, including a guy named Hamish who was about my age and was super cute, and who ran the local car dealership or something like that.  But they had their common culture and their common love of beer to bind them together in this remote place.

The nightly gathering at the Kaivuna bar

The next day, Bev had arranged for an excursion for us out to Little Pidgin Island, an uninhabited little stretch of sand and trees and driftwood.  She and Mom and I hopped on the boat at about 8 in the morning, enjoying the views of the beautiful ocean and the still smoldering Tavurvur volcano which had ravaged the area seven years earlier in a massive eruption.  The cooler she packed had some sandwiches and some cookies, but it was mostly filled with beer.  We were set up with beers in hand by 9 in the morning.
on the boat
our destination - Little Pidgin Island

Beers in hand
I don't remember exactly how long we were hanging out on Pidgin, but it was at least 4 hours, not including the boat rides out and back.  But in any event, that wasn't all that was on tap for the day. 

After a quick shower and change, we were headed to the Rabaul Yacht Club - which sounds much hoity-toitier than it is because it's nothing but a rather rudimentary open-air wooden structure - to celebrate Oktoberfest.  As one does in Rabaul (much like one goes to Reykjavik to celebrate Passover).

What ensued was hours of drinking beer, putting on bizarre costumes, engaging in games, and generally acting ridiculous.  In other words, it was awesome.

First one to chug their beer and then place empty cup on head wins
Hamish has a conversation with the love child of Marilyn Monroe and the Easter Bunny

I helped my team win some sort of race involving carrying a full pitcher without spilling it.  The University of Virginia prepared me well.
Mom, Bev and I toast to a great day
We were at Oktoberfest until around 5 or 6 in the afternoon.  Remarkably, Mom and I were all still in relatively good shape.  I couldn't really say the same for some of the other folks, though.  But we decided to keep the party rolling and headed back to Kaivuna, where we congregated out by the pool.

We were hanging out around a tall table, having some food and drinking more beer, telling stories. Hamish and I had gotten a bit flirty, and at one point he invited me to go out to an abandoned airfield to "look at the stars."  I was tempted, and to my surprise, even Mom was encouraging me to go, but I thought better of it and declined.  I was having too much fun where I was.

Peter is drunk enough that it seems like a good idea to eat sauerkraut with his bare hands.  Brian is horrified.
Even at night, it was warm and humid, and between that and all the beer, we were all feeling toasty. So of course, we took the tall table and put it in the pool.

Hijinks ensued.  There was pool dancing. Pool drinking. The pool proved no impediment to smoking. One guy even slipped and cracked his head on the side of the pool - we cleaned him up, put a bandage on it, and kept going.  It was an epic experience. 

Peter and Campbell in the pool.  Note Campbell's lovely head wound.  It ain't a party until someone almost loses an eye.
Finally, at about 9:30 - when it felt to us like 2 in the morning - we decided to call it a night.  We bade goodbye to our crazy friends and headed to our rooms to go to bed.

Miraculously, we woke up the next morning a bit tired, but remarkably hangover free.  When in Rome....

*In the spirit of Facebook's Throwback Thursday meme, I've decided to do the occasional #TBT post.  It's fun to look back and remember stuff like this, especially when I have pictures.

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