Friday, 19 September 2014

Another birthday feast


Just when I thought I knew what my day was going to hold (and was pondering what I would serve for supper, since it was already 6:20pm and we were still on shore), we were invited to a 7pm birthday party "for all the children and you". Koola's nephew was turning 11, and he had just come by to shyly ask her to ask us if we could attend. Of course, we said yes (at the same time I wondered - how would I get back to the boat, feed everyone, and come ashore again in 40 minutes??). I needn't have worried. "There will be food," she said in passing. "Food?" I clarified. "It will be like the feast on Friday," she told me. OK. No need to panic; in fact, off the hook from making dinner, I stayed in her kitchen watching her cook donuts, Max and Johnathan went back to the boat for a half hour, and we all sauntered the four houses over in plenty of time at the appointed hour.

When we arrived, the party was just about to start, and it was a miniature version of the 21st birthday from last week: more than a dozen brightly dressed children were seated in rows on the porch, while the adults had chairs on the lawn. Max and I were ushered to chairs near the steps, and Victoria & Johnathan were seated with the other children on the porch. A cake soon appeared on the decorated table, an uncle offered some words of welcome (this time in both Maori and English), and the minister was invited to say a prayer. The birthday boy came out from the curtained kitchen door wearing a garland of flowers, all the children sang "Happy Birthday" and "Happy Long Life", then the boy made a wish, blew out his candles, and cut the cake. As the feasting began, we were invited to the head of the line with the minister. Having taken one of the many plates and few forks, we chose from a selection that included lobster, pigs blood pudding, coconut crab, rice, chicken curry, coconut dumplings, two kinds of bread, and roast pig (cooked whole in an earth oven from 1000 that morning - delicious!). After a few days in the village, we are starting to get to know some familiar faces, especially the minister and his family (who were at the table with us), as Max has been fixing a few things for them, so the conversation flowed easily. As ever, Benjamin was the most remarked upon member of the family, as he sat enjoying curry, rice, pigs blood pudding and pork in his little booster chair on the ground. At 8pm, the announcement was made that the feast was over, and the minister was invited to say a closing blessing. It was really nice to have a good visit and no ambiguity about the timings :) When I went to thank her for the invitation, the boy's mom acknowledged that she had done all the cooking - she had been busy!!

The earlier part of our day was a little more typical - boat jobs in the morning (I am fine-tuning the baby gates for Benjamin, and Max was up to his neck in the aft cabin storage cubby under the bunk) - and a visit ashore in the late afternoon (Max is trying to fix Rio's generator was well as his VHF charger). Penrhyn is home to some special oysters that generate gold pearls, so we watched Rio's family shucking them all afternoon - they snorkel for them on the reef, and then use a knife to open them in the hopes of finding a natural pearl. A buyer comes every so often, so several families in the village are hard at work getting ready for the next visit.

Our weather was windy and unsettled today; we had several windy/rainy squalls blow through (winds were 15 kts gusting to 27 kts this morning) so Trickle remained on her painter behind Fluenta. Max has blown up our stand up paddle board (it looks like the perfect lagoon for a paddle), but again, the wind, and visits ashore, have gotten in the way of using it so far (maybe tomorrow ...).

That's about all the news at the moment. I was asked this week why we came to Penrhyn (it is not exactly on the straight path from Bora Bora to NZ ... we went several hundred miles north to get here). I think after the stories you have read of our visit, you can see why it was worth our while to spend a few extra days at sea, but in general, there are two routes through the Cook Islands (Northern Group & Southern Group); the southern route is a bit more direct, and most cruisers follow it, but the anchorages are not necessarily good in all weather conditions. We ran the risk of getting somewhere and then having to keep on going (several days) to the next island because the wind happened to be from the wrong direction. We had heard lots of good stuff about Penrhyn; pretty much everyone who comes here loves it, so even though it is a bit further 'off the beaten trail', we knew we could anchor here, and it held a certain fascination for us, so we came :)

Much love to all,
At 9/10/2014 3:07 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°57.50'S 157°55.72'W
At 9/10/2014 3:07 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°57.50'S 157°55.72'W

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