The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific- J. Maarten Troost

I am so so so excited to write this post!

When I started this blog and began searching for the best books on each country, I looked at the countries I had never heard of first. Of course, Kiribati (pronounced kir-ee-bas) was high on the list and everything pointed to the book by J. Marrten Troost. So when I was rummaging through books at Brattle Book Shop in Boston (On my second solo trip!) and saw Sex Lives of Cannibals on sale, I knew it was meant to be. 

In the first few pages, I immediately connected with the author. He was unsettled with his DC life, fed up after grad school, and talked about doing a stint in Cuba. (Literally, me.) I enjoyed the way he told his story, laughed at his jokes, and felt the things he was going through. Well, that is until he described Kiribati.

Kiribati might look like the perfect Pacific paradise, but let me tell you things aren’t always as it seems. The atoll is extraordinary dry and unbelievably hot. Running water, electricity, and safe places for garbage and human waste are sparse to nonexistent. This, combined with a lack of access to healthy diets and hygiene, make it a breeding ground for a plethora of diseases. 

Although, there’s much despair on Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati and the stage of the book, Troost manages to find peace and laughter in many of his journeys. The beer shortage, swimming with sharks, planes with masking time, and rough seas are all moments looked back at fondly. It takes a seasoned and good hearted traveler to turn the pits of traveling into peaks. Over time, Kiribati became a paradise to Troost and his wife in the their own way- because it became home.

Normally, I would put a few links in here to share more about Kiribati, but a great way to learn about this dot in the Pacific is by reading Troost’s book. As for visiting Kiribati myself, it’s not on the top of my list right now. But it’s not off my list either.

Since Troost talks about literally being on a deserted island at points since there is such limited access a lack of access to the outside world, it got me thinking about some of my own must haves if I was stuck on an island. What books or movies would I need to bring? What other must haves would I need? Please comment below some of yours!

Last but not least, a personal anecdote: I recently started a new job and in a staff meeting we broke out into groups and shared what we were watching and reading. Since my latest binge has been Jersey Shore (DON’T JUDGE ME) I shared how I was reading a book titled: Sex Lives of Cannibals.

What a first impression. 

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