Denver nuggets

Mar 13, 2002

The morning of our last day in Denver and the sun is rising fast. The weather has been beautiful here, the mountains standing regally over the plain. Monday evening Erin and little Anna and I met up with Uncle Denny, Aunt Elaine, Jenny and Johnny for pizza and beer at a place called Old Chicago. The Boulder Zuikers are doing well: Johnny is a track star and member of a fabulous choir, and he’s waiting to hear from Notre Dame University, where he wants to study engineering; Jenny is working for a realtor and making good money housesitting around Boulder; Denny and Elaine are busy in their jobs but they take time every weekend to catch the latest films. Look for pictures in a few days.

Our friend Erika took us to lunch yesterday at one of the best sushi restaurants in the country. My bento box, with mahi mahi in a mushroom vinaigrette and vegetable tempura, was splendid, and Erin’s tuna sushi was excellent. If you’re in Denver, get to Sushi Den.

We spoke with Paama Island last night. Erin did most of the talking, since my Bislama (pidgin English, the lingua franca of Vanuatu) is very rusty. Leah, Noel’s widow, was hoarse from crying, but shared the sad news of how Noel died while visiting relatives on Maewo Island. The relatives buried him there, so Leah and the kids—Terry, Enna and Mereva, and the others in Vila—weren’t able to see Noel to say goodbye. Yesterday was the fifth day since Noel ”i go lus”, and the village gathered for a meal at the family home. On the 30th day they’ll hold a feast in his honor, as well. Another custom on Paama is for the male family members to not shave their faces for those first 30 days after a death; I’m honoring that tradition, and growing my beard. Each time I stroke my whiskers, I remember the time Noel sat on the bamboo bench at our house and told me why his face was covered in whiskers. That same bench is where he and I sat late into many a night trading stories. I wish you could have been there with us.

Anton Zuiker

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