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November 13th 2008
Published: November 13th 2008
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Huahini - Day 3

Sailed into Maroe Bay and anchored around seven. We enjoyed the scenery and breakfast and then prepared for our motu picnic. The plan is to sail and snorkel, then picnic on a small island (a motu) and enjoy some local entertainment.

We met our group o the dock at 9 and boarded our flower decked motorized canoe. While we motored slowly along the shore our guide explained the geography of the islands. There are actually two parts to Huahini, Huahini Iki (little) and Huahini Nui (great), joined by the longest bridge in French Polynesia at 110 meters. The rainy season is late this year, yippee for us, but resulting in large wild fires in the hills. We watched one that started small at the top of the ridge and three hours later the entire valley and mountain were engulfed. Here they have to let these fires burn themselves out. They are inaccessible and no one lives there.
We continued on to our first snorkeling site off the beach of the abandoned Sofetel Resort that went bankrupt four years ago. Some of the bungalows look livable but most were missing roofs, doors and windows. The current was strong so we got a good work out. The fish species were varied and I discovered a few new friends yet to be identified.
Then we visited a pearl farm and a saw demonstration of pearl culture technique. Surprised to learn that the nucleus is a shell from the Mississippi River. I restrained myself from buying because I was smart enough to leave the credit cards on the ship. We cruised across the bay and enjoyed an hour-long drift snorkel above the wonderful, rich, healthy coral gardens.
Our motu picnic consisted of poisson cru, fresh marlin marinated in limejuice and coconut milk (freshly squeezed) and mixed with onion, carrot and green peppers. It was wonderful. They also served salad, saffron rice, barbequed chicken and mahi mahi. The mahi was grilled to perfection and the barbeque sauce was a great compliment. Local beer, rum punch and soft drinks were unlimited.
We then were treated to the usual demonstrations of coconut husking and pareu tying. We ate at picnic tables just off the beach in shallow water. The wavelets lapped softly at our ankles. All the while a trio of musicians treated us to music on their guitars and ukuleles. Every now and then a tour guide would join in and they would jam together. All were thoroughly enjoying it, musicians and audience alike.
This island is the most authentic of the “high mountains”. Few tourists visit, which is too bad for the local economy but great for the island ecology. Residents are friendly and welcoming. They are handsome people and the children are open and smiling. Motu living isn’t easy. The only way in or out is by boat. Even potable water has to be brought in from a community facet in Fare. Children must be transported to school at the parent’s expense. There is no electricity. Cooking is usually by propane, which also has to be purchased in Fare. That’s where the grocery is as well. Lot’s of time in small boats is the reality of motu living.
We sailed at four and it was naptime for us after a wonderful day in the sun and sea


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