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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  11,835 ratings  ·  743 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 (first published 2006)
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Kojo Douglas Yes, he does. He's playfully using the "savage" stereotype of ni-Vanuatu and contrasting it with the peaceful, pleasant (though still imperfect)…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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3.86  · 
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 ·  11,835 ratings  ·  743 reviews

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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
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
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 1
Shelves: non-fiction, own
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
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.
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: islands, 2000s, travel
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
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.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: armchair travelers
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
Jan 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title alone, no need to read this garbage.
Aaron Padgett
Jun 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Everything wrong with West-centric travel writing.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely funny and relatable since I lived in the Pacific.
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.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

What a trip....
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
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Paradise was always over there, a day's sail away. But it's a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I,finally, knew where my life belonged. Home."

That quote from the end of the book, kind of sums up the entire book: why the author went to live on the island, why he stayed and why he left. This is a really funny book, the author says everything he needs to say with a drop of humor or sarcasm
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
J. Maarten Troost is my favorite travel writer after reading book number two. It's too damn bad he claims he is staying in the U.S. for good but we'll see about that. And he should consider writing regular old travel adventure books like Bill Bryson does. But you obviously truly experience the culture when you live somewhere.

This book was a bit different than his first because of the situation. In his first, he was living on a tropical atoll in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific which was an a
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Rarely has my reading of a book been as well-timed as it was with Getting Stoned with Savages. In the midst of preparing to move my family overseas, reading J. Maarten Troost recount his decision to leave Washington, DC for the islands of Vanuata and Fiji was equal parts inspiration, reinforcement, and much-needed distraction from working out the details of my own complicated endeavor.

Granted, moving with my wife and son back to her home country of Denmark isn’t the same as Troost and his wife
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, funny
Troost specializes in that self-deprecating, clueless traveler mode of writing that is popular with good reason. We get the experience of watching someone else stumbling through exotic cultures with all the hopeless cowardice and ineptitude which we secretly know would be our own lot. In Troost's earlier book, he and his wife spent two years on one island, whereas in this, they move several times. Troost doesn't get into any deep philosophizing and yet he knows the absurdity of trying to "go nat ...more
Sep 02, 2008 rated it liked it
This was my least favorite of Troot's books. It truly is, in large part, about getting stoned with people in a third world country. (I draw the line at calling them savages...even if they did used to eat people...) The majority of this book is spent discussing Troost and his wife's time living in Vanuatu (where he spent a lot of time drinking the local delicacy 'kava' which apparently has exceptionally effective narcotic properties. His wife then becomes pregnant and they move to Suva, Fiji when ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Bored people
A friend of mine recommended this book to me, and I have a great respect for the books she chooses as she has good taste in books. Apparently, I may have been wrong. Although I did enjoy reading this, it was a little dry at some points albeit fascinating in others. More journal than travelogue, it chronicles the author's experiences in a faraway land and his cohabitation with, of all things, cannibals.

The author is a good writer and often funny. Perhaps it's just me and my taste in books, but he
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Having long ago chosen the South Pacific as my dream vacation/habitat, I loved this book, along with 'Sex Lives of Cannibals'. The writing is fun and makes you laugh while also thinking...hmmm...maybe people crapping in the ocean doesn't make much for beautiful scenery. I read these two books simultaneously, so I seem to get them mixed up when thinking of the details of each. Either way, both were quite funny and "eww-inspiring" at the same time.

NOTE: If you happen to need a travel companion for
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it
From the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals, another irreverent account of expat life in "developing" countries (for all of you poli-sci/IR/WS majors out there, one must turn off the filters of academia to enjoy this). The first couple of chapters evoked riotous laughter in describing the transition to working at the World Bank and the decision to return to equatorial life. Certain observations were dead-on (e.g. the necessity of the plot-driven novel in flights that last upwards of 12 hours). ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Who would think a book about moving to a tropical island with enormous poisonous stinging caterpillars and enormous poisonous snakes and sharks in the water and even real cannibals would be amusing? Troost must be a very accepting fellow because he's done it not once but twice. Both times he has managed to get books out of his adventures and he seems to have written very little else, so perhaps this is a good arrangement for him. I liked book two almost as much as book one, something that is sur ...more
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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
“Paradise was always over there, a day’s sail away. But it’s a funny thing, escapism. You can go far and wide and you can keep moving on and on through places and years, but you never escape your own life. I, finally, knew where my life belonged. Home.” 115 likes
“for what is life, a good life, but the accumulation of small pleasures?” 4 likes
More quotes…