Sunday, 8 June 2014

Raining Mangos

Evening greetings :)

It is calm but rolly in our new anchorage. Lots of boats around the perimeter of the bay are stern-anchored; we will decide tomorrow if it is worth our while to move to join them... in the meantime, we are in the middle of a large group with only a bow anchor.

Yesterday's adventure was a hike to the top of the saddle between our bay and our previous bay (Anaho). We spent the morning on Fluenta focusing on some reading and school assignments (which was fortuitous, because our friend came by after his dawn fishing trip with yet another gift for us - this time a deep water red fish, whose eyes were bulging because of the great decrease in pressure he had just experienced. He looked like some kind of cartoon !) In the afternoon, after a lunch of banana pancakes, we went ashore, bought a baguette for the road, and headed uphill. Our journey was partly to stretch our legs, partly to see the view, and mostly to collect mangoes that we had heard were to be found all along the route. At the top of the well-worn foot/horse path, as we were admiring the beautiful view (of at least seven sailboats, in contrast to our solo anchorage) we met a woman whom we had chatted with the previous week on our hike to the garden. {Aside - Every day, she does the one-hour hike morning and evening to work in the coconut plantation we had walked through.} As with all the local folk we had met, she turned out to be very friendly, and we walked back down with her and her two dogs. Somehow it came up in conversation that we were interested in a few mangoes... The next thing we knew, she had found a long forked stick (by long I mean 10-12 feet) and had started shaking mangoes out of the trees for us. When her stick broke in one of the trees, she climbed the next one and shook them out by hand! Johnathan's comment that it was "raining mangoes" pretty much summed it up - she shook them down and the kids scampered around to collect them. By the time we got to the bottom, we had a couple of grocery bags full of beautiful golden yellow mangoes. We tried some today, and their flavour was again unlike any mangoes we have had at home - sweet, flowery, and peppery all at once.

I got chatting with our new friend as we descended. Like all Marquesans, she had a French name (Bernadette) and a Marquesean name that I cannot manage to repeat. Her Marquesean name meant something along the lines that she was a descendent of the last King, and that she was the guardian of her town. She is a second or third generation granddaughter of the last king. Once she realized that we were interested in the various fruits that we were walking by, she was excited to share and let us taste any that we saw. I am sure it was very dark by the time she got to her home near the historical site (up the hill on the other side of town), as she was very patient in stopping to cut down "pistache" (different from our pistachios - grape-shaped, dark purple/black and we at the fruit not the nut), some kind of bean where we sucked off the juicy covering of the inner seeds, but left the seeds, and various other delicacies. She also pointed out the noni tree, which of course had become very popular as a cure-all in North America and here grows wild. Marquesans use it for many medicinal reasons. I was sad to arrive back in the village, as it had been so interesting to talk to her, and since we really were ready to move on to another location today, it had to be a short-lived friendship. Incidentally, she was the guide for our NZ and UK friends to visit the historical site the day we were fixing our diesel leak.

On our way back through the village, we stocked up on baguettes (buy em when we see em!) and stopped to say farewell to our "hosts". We had brought a small bottle of lotion as a token of thanks, and *still* we didn't leave empty-handed - the husband disappeared inside their home and came out a minute later with two beautiful shells. After a few more minutes of chatting, the wife said, "Go, or I will cry!" It was very like leaving home at the airport! Thankfully, we have an email address for them, so we will be able to send some photos once we have wifi.

This morning, after a quick restoration of the upper decks to sailing-ready status and a mouthful of baguette (our provisions for the day!) we left for the main town on the island (Taiohai). Our route basically took us on a 35 nm half-circumnavigation from the NE corner to the SW corner. We elected to go counter-clockwise in order to be in the lee of the island while the wind was on the beam. As it turned out, we were in the lee of the swells, but the wind was pretty fierce throughout the day. I really didn't know what it meant to feel vulnerable until I had a baby strapped to me and the wind was gusting to 29 kts! Thankfully, it was a short passage, which meant that we had both adults "on duty" for the whole trip, and that we could motor-sail (ie keep the main up, but mostly use the engine for propulsion) as we can re-fuel in this bay. We even had a yellow fin tuna kind enough to jump onto our favourite double-hook squid lure while we were in the lee of the island so that Max could fillet it before we headed up-wind. We had so much sashimi for our appetizer at dinner that we hardly needed a main course :) The funniest part of the trip was also the most stressful: our last eight miles were up-wind against some bouncy/steep seas (there is a reason people refer to "bashing to windward" - as we went through each wave, the bow would rise up, bash down, and a wave would break on the top of the dodger, with water running along both sides of the upper deck). Max and I were counting down the miles until we would safely be in the anchorage with (hopefully) nothing new on the maintenance list; Victoria and Johnathan (harnessed and tethered) were leaning out of the cockpit so they could feel the full force of the wind and be doused by the waves!

After being alone last night, it was a shock to arrive here and be one of dozens of boats. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto! We have heard that there is wifi here, so we will hope to reconnect, send photos, do laundry, buy groceries, etc then head around the corner to Daniel's Bay, from which we can hike to the 3rd highest waterfall in the world, and wait for a weather window to head to the Tuamotos.

Love to all,
At 6/2/2014 9:08 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°55'S 140°06'W
At 6/7/2014 9:01 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°55.00'S 140°06.00'W

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1 comment:

  1. Max and Elizabeth...thank you so much for sharing your sailing journey. Each morning, as I prepare to slog away in my cubicle at 101, I bring up your blog, have a quick read, and dream of our own adventures after retirement. My heart is warmed by the generousity and kindness of the people you have met and I am sure the friends of the people you have met have said the same about you and your family. We wish you continued safe travels and fair winds.


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