Published: November 26th 2011November 19th 2011
When I left you I was ready to leave the bungalow and do something productive. I decided that I would walk to the grocery store, have I mentioned how effing expensive everything is here? Crazy expensive. Anyway, I decided to pick up some dinner and a few other provisions, so I made the fifteen minute walk into the town. After returning to the bungalow I made myself a sandwich and drank a couple of the local beers, Hinano Tahiti, while I watched the sun set. I had a long day and was feeling like I could just go to bed, but when I looked at my watch I found that it was only seven o’clock. There was a happy hour going that changed from having a Polynesian band to having a full traditional Polynesian show. I decided to suck it up and put together a run for the night. I finished my last beer and made my way out to discover what fun could be had.
Right there in the lobby of Hawaiki Nui there were women weaving together leas, a band playing, people in costume dancing, and a ton of people, mostly Japensese, taking it all in. The show
was amazing, it was very tough to tell where the choreography stopped and the candid performances began. It was easy to see that this is a very proud culture with a unique heritage. At one point I was even drug out to dance with the group. The males do this dance where they bend their knees about 45 degrees and shake them very quickly together, the dance was exhausting and I am sure I was not impressing anyone with my lack of moves. Hip hop class did me no good at all. After the show I made my way back to my room; I had big plans to set off in one of those sea kayaks.
The sun woke me up by shining through the sliding glass doors of the bungalow. I ate a granola bar, applied some sunscreen, and headed for the dock that held the sea kayaks. The paddle over to the island was only about a mile and a half, about halfway my shoulders kind of started to burn but it was well worth it. I kept thinking what an idiot I was, no knowledge of the sea or its currents here,
I could easily be swept out to the middle of the Pacific and no one would ever know….. I paddled on. The small motu had the first sand beach that I have seen. I paddled right up to it to strand my kayak and have a look around. The motu was maybe 200 meters by 100 meters and had a trail leading through it. There were a few locals playing in the water, I didn’t disturb them, just snapped a few photos of their island. The shuttle that was taking me to my boat would arrive at 11:00 am, so I paddled back in. Once there I packed my suitcase, grabbed my things and headed to the lobby to meet the shuttle.
I could totally get used to this yacht thing; I am sitting here writing this on a net spanning the front portion of this Eleuthera 60’ catamaran, The Mata Fenua. Once onboard I was introduced to my “roommates” for the next eight days. A German physician Ralph and his wife Margarette from Munich. A couple on their honeymoon from Milan, Italy, Mirko and Bernadette. Two people, I haven’t decided if they are a
couple or not just yet, from Quebec City, Canada, Stephane and Nancy. The two crew members are our skipper, Wen, and our chef and deck hand, Hinano, yes, like the beer. (Give yourself 5pts if you noticed that) Next Wen showed me my cabin, the place is small but awesome. The ingenuity it took to make these rooms so compact yet hospitable is astounding. The entire bathroom is the shower! How legitimate is that? (If you are sitting here reading this thinking to yourself, “yeah, everyone knows that.” Quite reading and find something better to do. I am from Nebraska, we don’t see this shit everyday. ) Before setting off on our journey Hinano had prepared a traditional meal, Poisson Cru, which is raw tuna, some vegetables and coconut milk. I am not a fan of sushi, it was okay. The sushi lovers in the group loved it. Not my thing.
We set sail staying within the protective reef around Raiatea and headed for our first stop, a Pearl farm. Once the boat was anchored we were encouraged to swim/snorkel around while the tour ahead of us wrapped up. Now the awesome part, if you
know me well you know that I love to do tricks off of things into water, diving boards, cliffs, hotel room balconies, anything and everything; anyway, they said that we could jump off the back of le bateau if we wanted to. Of course I wanted to. I did a few flips and a couple of dives in between swimming while waiting for that tour to finish. The boat from the pearl farm came and picked us up once they were ready. The woman, Summer, is from San Diego and has lived here 14 years now. Her husband, Reno, does much of the work. We were able to watch, I even swam with him down the six meters to retrieve the rope with evenly spaced oysters. Once done we swam back to the reef close to the pearl farm/boutique/lab.
Summer and Reno showed us the entire operation. There are so many things that I had no idea about as far as what really goes into making a pearl. Who would have thought right? I mean I have so much exposure to it. Anyway, they showed us how they look inside a partially opened shell with
a dentist mirror to see the coloring. If they like that one they will sacrifice it and steal the membrane containing the DNA from this oyster. They then cut it into small pieces and will implant this DNA into the reproductive organ of the other oysters, this DNA will take over and become the DNA for that oyster. What this means to the pearl is that it will then share the color from the inside of the original oyster. We watched Reno do all of this, but only when he found an oyster that had not had the process done first. Summer told us about the buying of the oysters, some of the history, and even how they use Missouri river mussels to use as the foreign body, parasite, that the pearl is formed around. This process was invented by Mickey Moto, sp?,. Anyway, French Polynesian is famous for her black pearls, most often referred to as Tahitian black pearls. Summer and I sparred a few solid rounds of negotiations before I walked away with a few I thought were choice. One I am currently wearing around my neck. This thing is huge and beautiful. (I am only here once
Back on the yacht we headed back to a spot to anchor in for the night. Us passengers sat at the front of the boat and watched the sun set in the west over the Pacific Ocean. We shared some background on ourselves. The group is from all over the world and I am the only native English speaker, so communicating has been fun.
The best story of my trip so far goes to Stephan; we were all sharing what we do in real life. Stephan said he was a bus driver, and then I asked Nancy what she did and she is a bus driver as well. Both drive buses for the city in Quebec City. We then got to talking about this trip. Stephan won this trip by being the first caller to some television show in Quebec, Salut Bonjour! How effing funny is that? Best story I have heard in a really long time. Funny guy too. They speak about as much English as I do French, so we are teaching each other as we go and using one another as translators. They joked with me
over dinner that I must be the only American who speaks another language, because they have never met another. Kind of sad, but for all intents and purposes it is true. Dinner was exceptional. We had leg of lamb, rosemary potatoes, and this cobbler of fruits from the area for dessert. Crazy good. This here that you are reading is what I did after dinner, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to writing from.
There are more photos below