Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rain rain go away

Raiatea, French Polynesia

Now into our 4th day of rain and today it is torrential rain at that. We are in the midst of trying to dock the boat and get fuel and it is so wet and miserable that I have had to come down below to do some of the cleaning and emailing that I have been neglecting. Spent the better part of 2 days using a frustratingly slow internet to put together a complex itinerary to get me home in Aug. As it turns out it will take me 2 red eyes to get from American Samoa to Portland, Maine and I can only imagine the shape I will be in when I land. The return is not quite as bad as I will stop in San Fran for a day and a half and 2 nites and visit my brother and family. Also it is alot easier going West in regards to time changes and it will be split up. So I depart here on Aug 15(arrive PWM 8/17) and return from Aug 27-29. In the midst of that short time I will help pack my Zakkie up and deliver him to McGill in Montreal...should be a whirlwind tour for sure!

The So. Pacific convergence zone has put a weird spin into the weather here and we are looking to change our itinerary to go further north and try to get out of this rain and wind that has been going on almost since the kids left mid June. We are lucky that we have been travelling with a wonderful couple from England (boat is Curious/Steve and Trish). They are alot of fun and have kept us from going either stir crazy or killing each other/great distraction from funky moods due to funky weather! We have shared many happy hours and dinners and done some excursions together and get along quite well. We are currently in Raiatea which is an island that shares a lagoon with Tahaa. Spent 4 nites at the "Taravana Yacht Club" and will probably go back ther tomorrow to have a 4th of July celebration. Richard the owner is origiinally from the Bay Are (Cal) but has been in the So. Pacific for 40 years. He had a charter business out of Bora Bora until a year or so ago when he bought the Yacht club. He has a doz. moorings and caters to the yachties/ a wonderful wevice as the anchorage there is 112 ft and would make for an impossible place to anchor. Nice bay and very protected which was great when the winds were blowing 30-35. Hey, have you ever tried to hang sheets and towels out in those conditions...thought I might just be taking up kite surfing without even a board!

The night we got there they had a buffet and dance performance. It was both tasty food and a wonderful night of local entertainment. This group was very young/local teenagers from a few neighboring towns on Tahaa. They were awesome! Girls were beautiful and move those hips and fannies in the most unusual way. Their arms flow like willows and the rest of their upper bodies stay perfectly immobile. The young men (if you can call an 11 year old boy that) did not dance quite so nicely but when they did the fire dance it took our breaths away. From what we hear this traditonal Polynesian dancing was all but done in for until a few years back when heritage overtook the desire to be western and modern and has made a resurgence. Very good view of pride in one's culture that we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy. At the end of the performance they called up some of the audience including Gram and me to try our hand at their dance. If we got any decent pics will post them in the near future...I am sure they would be worth a chuckle or day we were a bit sore...both our legs and our cheeks from laughing so hard!

Yesterday we walked (in the rain) up to a vanilla plantation to see how they process the vanilla. 2/3 of the So Pacific's vanilla comes from Tahaa and probably 90% of the world's vanilla comes from the So. Pacific. It is quite a labor intensive process. Once the beans are picked they are washed and dried over a period of 4 months. Then by hand they are straightened and sorted by size. The aroma was magnificent and we made tapioca pudding with vanilla bean flavoring for dessert last night. YUM!!! Have not done much swimming besides cleaning the bottom of the boat as all the rain has made the water pretty murky. We did have some great water days before we came over here while in Huahine last week. Huahine was a very beautiful island/lush and unspoiled. We first anchored in a little pass between the island a couple of motus(little islands). The water was the most incrdible color of turquoise as it was a white sand bottom only 11 ft. under us. The people on the motu were very kind and even more generous. We were given melons, herbs, green onions, green beans, and a whole kitchen garbage bag of Bok Choy(even tho' it cooks down by alot we had 2 huge meals from it). When we tried to give them chocolate, blueberry jam and some trinkets for their kids they kept refusing us. After much insistence we finally got them to agree to accept our gifts. The better gift that we came up with to give them was to arrange the next morning to come get the kids (about 5 of them in one family) ages 8-12 or 13 and take them tubing on this water toy we can tow behind the dinghy. Steve and Bill proved to be the biggest kids of all and had alot of fun with the gang. They came on our boats and were very courteous and interested...great kids and left us with huge hugs and smiles and great memories for us to savor.

We spent 4 days there , did some really nice drift snorkeling and partied with Curious and another boat (Rhianne Marie from Scotland that we had met in Fakarava) The highlite of the partying was a 5 1/2 hour Happy hour on Curious with all three boats complete with some pole dancing on the backstay by they call that 3 sheets to the wind? . We left there to head to Fare the main town of Huahine and check out the big market we had read about. It was a really good supermarket and we bought enough fresh stuff and a few Chinese specialty products they had to complete our larder. Got the bikes out and went for a nice ride to visit the Maerae( ancient temple platforms) As we pedalled back to town we were able to see the finish of a 3 hour canoe race that was going on. These guys are awesome and have the most beautiful strokes in synchonized form imaginable. There was alot of colorful activity and music going on that afternoon which was cool to be able to witness. Next day we headed down towards the southern bay in search of what is said to be the best beach in French Polynesia but that is when the bad weather started. We were hit with 35 k winds coming from a direction that made that southern area untennable. Waited another day to see if it was going to clear but bad luck prevailed and we decided to cut our losses and move to Tahaa.

Well the suckers are done filling our fuel tanks so I will sign off so we can head to town and see what Raiatea has to offer on a rainy Sat. morning. Happy 4th of July...

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