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Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  13,167 ratings  ·  799 reviews
With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost established himself as one of the most engaging and original travel writers around. Getting Stoned with Savages again reveals his wry wit and infectious joy of discovery in a side-splittingly funny account of life in the farthest reaches of the world. After two grueling years on the island of Tarawa, battling feral dogs, mach ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Broadway Books
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Douglas La Rose Yes, he does. He's playfully using the "savage" stereotype of ni-Vanuatu and contrasting it with the peaceful, pleasant (though still imperfect) peopl…moreYes, he does. He's playfully using the "savage" stereotype of ni-Vanuatu and contrasting it with the peaceful, pleasant (though still imperfect) people he actually encounters in Vanuatu. I can see how the title might turn some people off, which is unfortunate. It's a rather good book.(less)

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Aaron Padgett
Jun 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Everything wrong with West-centric travel writing.
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Last summer I read The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which I reported to be about neither sex nor cannibals (although, a good book nonetheless). The sequel, Getting Stoned with Savages, IS about getting stoned, and, ironically, is very much about cannibals. Go figure with the titles... I guess they just sound catchier this way.

I listened to both books and would heartily recommend it if you can get them on audio. The whole time I listened to them, I forgot that it was not the author who was reading, a
Jan 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title alone, no need to read this garbage.
Connie G
The South Pacific is not totally the paradise one might imagine from travel posters. J. Maarten Troost has written a humorous travel book where he tells of primitive transportation, corrupt governments, harrowing cyclones, huge venonous centipedes, and traveling to the rim of an active volcano. He is fascinated with the history of cannibalism, and learns about the missionaries and rival villagers who were victims to the practice. As the title suggests, he enjoys getting stoned with a native drin ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Savages?..... really? 🙄
Oh it just annoyed me! Right from the start of the title it was frustrating ... So I gave it a go, got to 13% of the way and then promptly realised that the book reads like the title so stopped reading it. Ta da!

There are MUCH better books set in the South Pacific. Being in New Zealand, this is so so true.
Mar 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
More arrogant and self-centered than his first novel. It was very easy to put down.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Racist. Racist. Racist.
Kressel Housman
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I knew this was the book for me from the very first page. The author self-deprecatingly calls himself "an escapist," and goes on to describe his mind-numbing office job. Since I'm stuck in a boring job myself, it felt all too familiar when he reiterated the wisdom of the world: "How else do you expect to get ahead?"

"The question altogether misses the point," writes the author. "The escapist doesn't want to get ahead. He simply wants to get away."

Now THAT is a man after my own heart.

The author ge
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, non-fiction
In his follow-up to The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Troost seems to have found his voice and rhythm. He picks up where he left off, overwhelmed by the constraints of the corporate life in Washington DC, until he decides that he and his wife Sylvia are ready for another sojourn in their beloved South Pacific. This time, instead of landing on a desolate atoll, they spend time in Vanuatu and Fiji. It is in Vanuatu that Troost discovers the wonders of kava, a local intoxicant, and regales his reader wit ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a collection of travel essays that lack the tension or detail to benefit anyone other than the author.

Troost swam in shark infested waters. He sought out living cannibals. He lived in third-world conditions and allegedly was treated as a local. All exciting stuff--or it should be.

What you get is a long lead up to swimming, taking a swim, and later finding out that the waters were dangerously shark infested. That makes a good anecdote at a cocktail party, but on paper, it's not a story at
Books Ring Mah Bell
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Some time ago, I read Troost’s The Sex Lives of Cannibals, and found it a pleasant and humorous read. Desiring a quick, fun read, I did not hesitate to scoop up Getting Stoned with Savages. Troost does not disappoint.

After spending some time in Kiribati, the basis of his other book, he and his wife return to the United States, only to become bored by the rat race. Soon, they decide to try life in another South Pacific locale, the islands of Fiji and Vanuatu.

As they had lived in the tropics befo
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, islands, 2000s
Troost's entertaining book showed a side of Vanuatu that I would liked to have experienced, maybe. While there I didn't have my usual sense of freedom to wander about.

The French freighter ($212 ticket) that I rode from Sydney to Panama in early 1969 stayed in the New Hebrides for four days to load copra. That was before the island nation of Vanuatu was formed. When the islands were still a dark, dangerous colonial victim of European nations.

Other than the army checkpoints on Panama's cross cou
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This was a funny enough travel read, and definitely fits the genre of "writer and family moves to new place, has funny adventures". It was a great location to read about, although I've read more compelling discussions of a place and its people.
I especially liked the discussion of escapism and what wanderlust means. Another reviewer quoted his passage about the search for paradise and how real life always catches up. Calls into question my own current streak of armchair traveling. Also, I like h
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Overall not as funny as the author thinks or wanted it to be, but it had its moments. A little blatant on the torment of the writing process. Still, a look into a different world I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. But I don't need to come back for more. ...more
Jennifer (the_pumpkin_reads)
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Troost, while an acquired taste, never leaves me feeling down. This book follows him through Vanuatu and Fiji, while he and Sylvia decide to start a family.
Another winner of a travelogue by J. Maarten Troost. Troost is not a guy who is content to sit at a desk and work - he is a true traveler. When the road calls, he answers, and then he writes hilarious tell-all books about everything that happens - and does. This trip takes Troost and his wife to Vanuatu, where rumors of cannibalism may be more than rumors. If the giant centipedes don't make you turn tail and run, maybe the typhoons and earthquakes will? Nope. When wife Sylvia realizes there's a ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology, travel
As a travel writer, Troost has a very light and self-deprecating style but he also gives a clear, unvarnished view of life in the places he writes about. You feel you've been there, you're glad you saw it, and at the same time you feel like you never want or need to go there yourself. Here he's living in the South Pacific again, on two larger islands, Fiji and Vanuatu. He's become one of my favorite travel writers. ...more
Darla Ebert
Apr 12, 2021 rated it did not like it
I am getting kind of over books that brag about drinking, alternating with bragging that is thinly disguised as regret and which ultimately translates into more bragging. I should have known from the title but honestly thought it was a play on words. Sort of. The life of the kind people of Vanuatu surely should have included much more positive descriptions and anecdotes than what is within this book.
May 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book will teach me to never again buy a book because it has the word 'stoned' in the title. What a self-indulgent piece of crap...don't waste your time like I did... ...more
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
While The Sex Lives of Cannibals had nothing to do with sex lives or cannibals, Getting Stoned with Savages does include much getting stoned. The use of the word 'savages' is part of the whole deal of these titles, which are slightly gauche parodies of the titles of various written materials on this part of the world from centuries past.

In any case, yes, there is much getting stoned with the populations of Vanuatu and Fiji. If what happens when you drink kava counts as stoned, in which case I a
A thoroughly enjoyable, informative read-- a great choice if you want to learn about new places, but also want to be talked out of actually travelling to them.

Despite the racist title*, I continue to find Maarten's perspective and engagement with foreign cultures refreshing. This book, as the third one of his I've read, really made me feel like I have gotten to know Maarten as a person, in addition to becoming familiarized with the foreign places he lives/visits. As other reviewers have remarked
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This author never fails to humor, entertain, and educate me on things I would otherwise never be exposed to. This book was equally as enjoyable as Sex Lives of Cannibals, and I was able to recall the events referenced. I simply love Troost's memoir writing style, and would love to emulate it in a book of my own some day. A definite read for lovers of adventure, travel, humor and memoirs. ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This hilarious, light-hearted travel memoir will not be the most important or profound book I've read this year, so why four stars? Four stars for me means this is a book I really enjoyed and that I will share with others. Maarten Troost is so witty--I laughed out loud numerous times in every single chapter. I look forward to reading his other books. They are fast and fun. ...more
Rachel Hyland
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read this book. I loved Troost's first quirky travel tome, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which saw him and his then-girlfriend Sylvia spend two years on the small island of Kiribati, coming hilariously to grips with a whole new way of life and becoming one of the locals. Why, then, has their time in Vanuatu and Fiji lain unread so long on my shelf? Well, no, that's not true. Not unread. Partially read. I got a few chapters in, I p
This is a humorous and irreverent account of life on the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji, told from the point of view of a ne'er-do-well ex-pat dependent on his much more industrious wife Sylvia. After getting fired from his consultant job in DC just before he was about to stick it to the man and quit, Maarten finds himself itching to go back to the South Pacific. Fortunately, his wife has a job with the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, which sounds slightly made up, but is real enou ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Worth reading, perhaps, if you like this sorta thing (expat writer living, chasing adventure on S. Pacific islands).
Really enjoyed passages like the following: "Vanuatu is a world of rituals, magic, and sorcery. There are spirits and ghosts. Dead ancestors aren't quite as dead as they are in the West, and from time to time they drop by for a visit. The artwork in Vanuatu--headdresses adorned with the plumes of hawks, carved tree ferns, decorative tam-tams, or wooden drums--was, to my eyes, evoc
Sarah Booth
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Troost doesn’t take himself too seriously. He freely admits to his ambling ways and his freewheeling behavior and is the first to point out when he’s done something stupid which makes him very appealing as a guide/author. I suppose I should have probably shortened this and just said he has a very self deprecating style. Here he writes about his time on islands in the South Pacific with his wife and tells that they moved in order to start a family not wanting to raise a child in the Un ...more
Sep 21, 2021 rated it did not like it
I don't know if I liked chapter 11 or the one where he ascends a volcano and sees lava go up and down the least. I did finish the book, but that's a low bar for me. The author was dismissive of places I value, and his humor didn't do it for me. Don't plan to read his other works. ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely funny and relatable since I lived in the Pacific.
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Jan Maarten Troost (known professionally as J. Maarten Troost) (born 1969 in The Netherlands) is a Dutch-American travel writer and essayist.

J. Maarten Troost is the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. His essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, and the Prague Post. He spent two years in Kiribati in the equatorial Pacific and upon his

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