Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sunny days in Raiatea

The weather didn't really get better in Huahine, but still it was a great place to be even in the rain. Mainly because Samantha and Toriki who owe the Motu lodge we stayed in are lovely, lovely people who we both liked very much and their way of life is inspiring. 

On our last day we took a tour with Eco tour and Maneva who was our guide was a passionate and knowledgable Tahitian Frenchman. He picked us up first from the Motu jetty and explained the other guests would be French so he would do a half and half tour to keep it easier whilst at the sites. When Andy asked him how he'd learnt such good English he replied "I've had a lot of girlfriends". The other guests were a family of thoroughly metropolitan Frenchies (Prada glasses, clean, well ironed clothing, fun floral shorts for the teenage boys) - but they seemed very nice although their English was as good as our French and again it felt fustrating to us that we hadn't really bothered to learn some conversational French for our holiday. Next time for sure. 

We were taken to the marae first and Maneva took turns with each group to explain the importance of this place before the Europeans arrived and also how it was easily given up when the missionaries arrived with their more exciting God who had more stuff. Then we visited a small vanilla plantation/shop, a marae that hasn't been restored in the hills, but where the dead have been disturbed and a beach where the 1st queen to unify the island arrived in a drum, having escaped her family in Raiatea - annoyingly I didn't make a note of her name and now am unable to find it with a Google search (seems Google and wiki only want to talk about the rulers who dealt with the Europeans...) and as he was driving us round Huahine Nui he explained a lot about not only the history but also its current political and social status. He pointed out Cook bay to us, the first place James Cook had moored in Huahine. Apart from the electricity lines it probably looked pretty much the same when my ancestor saw it as today!

The last official stop was the mahoosive blue eyed eels in the river. He fed them and they slithered and writhed towards him whilst we took photos. Eels really are ugly. And I could only sing the "Eels up inside you, finding an entrance where they can" song in my head. A fun fact - apparently when these eels are ready to die they go into the ocean and swim very deep (to avoid detection as they have no defence mechanisms at all) to join up with their families in Fiji and give birth before they die. 

Before dropping us off Maneva took a detour via a distillery where we had many free shots of organic and locally produced fruit liquor and schnapps. Lovely stuff and we bought some to take home. Finally, tour over he dropped us all off in Fare and recommended the Huahine Yacht club restaurant for lunch. It was very nice, right on the front and it seemed calmer and more lagoon like than our side of the island. Andy and I shared a fish burger and chips, yum. (The portions are seriously on the big side here). Then after a little shop we were picked up by Samantha and her baby and taken back to the Motu. I was equally impressed and disturbed by Samantha's driving whilst holding a baby, talking on the phone and / or trying to appease crying baby (who was in a seat but there was no seat belts I keep him in place) so we did our best to distract baby from the back on the ute. Turns out he liked us, we got lots of big grins and giggles. 

When we got back Toriki showed us his vanilla plantation; a lot of hard and constant work goes into it and it was fascinating stuff. Then after a spot of packing and signing of Paul's book, we took some beers over to Samantha and Toriki's and had a lovely hour or so just chatting. Really hope we can keep in touch with these lovely people! 

The next morning at 5.30am they took us and all our luggage back to Lapita village, where our journey in Huahine had began. Samantha bought us breakfast for the water issues even though we told her there was no need and arranged a lift to the airport for our short and bumpy ride to Raiatea. Was very sad to say goodbye to her! And even a little sad realising we'll never see fish / cat again, even if he did spend the last day sulking as Andy threw his dead half mouse gift away. 

We had arranged a car in Raiatea and after picking up our retardly expensive automatic we drove anti clockwise around the island. The island is very dramatic and as it had been raining there were crazy waterfalls from the mountains. The water on the west coast is very muddy so it was only as we got to the south of the island we saw the beautiful blue lagoon we'd been missing from our Huahine experience. Sadly there are no real beaches around the island (and the few they have are part of hotels) and the only snorkelling options are via boats out to the Motus. We drove into the main town / city Uturoa, only to find it was all completely closed. Because it was Sunday....silly religion. So we just drove to our air BnB place instead, thankfully finding a supermarket on the way to buy a few essentials (Wine, bread, frosties).    

Fare Nyimanu is at the top of a hill and the vista is wow! amazing. You can see Huahine in the distance and the gorgeous lagoon below. Outstanding. The house, or studio as it really is, is cheap and cheerful. As in everything is very cheap (including the rent for a place in French Polynesia) but really the decor is quite depressing instead of cheerful (weirdly Samantha & Toriki stayed here earlier in the year when baby was sick and they needed to be near a hospital). Take from example, the basic white fridge that someone chose to put orange autumnal wallpaper over. Or the turtle poster in a plastic frame. Or the monkey ornament made out shells with a jaundiced face, holding a mouldy peach (unsure of peach is meant to be mouldy or if that just what happened to it). Why? Who thinks that'll be nice touch for the guests?? It was especially hard coming from Motu lodge, where everything felt as though it had been carefully thought out. But regardless of the tiki tackiness it is fine, the bed is comfy, we have a TV to watch football on, a kitchen that works and hot running water! And the pool area is amazing. Although this sits very close to their property, they have been very respectful when we've used it. The host Titaua is a lovely woman, although again if we'd bothered to learn French I think we would get more out of our stay here. 

On day 2 of being here (Monday?) we took the car back and then shopped in the main town / city Uturoa. It reminded us both of Maumere in Flores. A dirty town with cheap clothes and food stores and tacky gift stores (actually, not sure Maumere had any of those....). I had wanted a Tahitian dress but couldn't find one I liked so instead I bought some fabric to make my own. Now I just have to make my own....we found a cafe that was showing the Italy V Belgium match so watched that before going supermarche shopping. Honestly, one of my favourite things to do in a new place is going to the supermarket, I love to see all the different and similar stuff in the aisles. Hilariously a lot of produce here is from NZ! Anyway with our food shopping out of the way we met up with Titaua and she gave us a lift home.  

And here we will stay until we leave for Bora Bora on Thurday morning! It's saving us a lot of money being so far away from all the restaurants and bars which means more to spend in the millionaires paradise of Bora Bora. Plus it's been nice just hanging by the pool looking at the view, reading books and just chilling. And then as a final reason, Andy has got man flu so doing anything is not an option. Poor love! Fingers crossed he'll be better for Bora Bora. 

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