Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 2007 - Fare, Huahine

The other morning we rented bikes to tour around the island. We started in the main town of Fare, and headed north east, to the village of Maeva. On the shores of the lagoon in Maeva sit a number of maraes (temple sites) and Fare Pote'e, a cultural center. Dorothy Levy, a Californian who has lived on Huahine for decades, runs the cultural center. We told her about naming our boat for the island, and she shed some light on the name that we had chosen.

We knew that Mata'irea was the ancient name for the island of Huahine. We also knew that the subparts of the name mean wind (mata'i) and golden (rea). Dorothy explained that the ancient Polynesians didn't have gold. Their term for golden was a description of the sun's light, a brilliant warmth that caused their crops to grow. So she translates Mata'irea as "brilliant breeze". She thought it was a rather good name for a boat - we have to agree.

After visiting with Dorothy, we had to hike up Mata'irea Hill. We passed the ruins of the homes of several chiefly families and maraes as we climbed into the lush, damp forest. At the crest of the hill sits Mata'irea-Rahi, which was the most important temple in the Society Islands, prior to the erection of the big complex in Raiatea.

We rested there for a bit and had lunch while we enjoyed the spectacular views of the lagoon and reef below us and the cooling trade winds. As we descended the hill, the path wound through a vanilla farm. At the bottom of the path, we found a table set up on the side of the road with bags of vanilla for sale on it. We picked up a few, and have been enjoying vanilla in our breakfast coffee and french toast.

A volunteer vanilla shoot climbing a tree.

We continued biking around the island, stopping at every "snack" we came across to supplement our water supply with sodas. We visited the local pearl farm to check out the pottery thrown by another Californian, Peter Owen.

Peter's son is the champion long distance outrigger canoe paddler for all of Polynesia. His supporters' bumper stickers adorn many of the vehicles around the island.

We biked through Faie, bypassing the opportunity to feed the sacred eels - we saw the slimy, blue eyed creatures the last time we were here, and continued on to the first real hill. I ended up pushing my bike up and down most of it, due to gears that didn't shift and questionable breaks. Sten walked a bit, but he was able to pedal up and coast down much of it. The next hill was easier, and a passing rainstorm was refreshing. We were happy to reach the flat coastal road in Fitii. We wrapped up our trip with some soft serve ice cream from one of the roulettes by the town pier.

The only thing scarier than this sign, was the one that proceeded it, which warned us that we were in for a 2km, steep uphill pedal - or in my case, push.

Yesterday we snorkeled outside the reef. We could hear the whales talking to each other, but we didn't see any. At sunset we picked up Anya and Gaby from Encanto and rafted up our dinghy with Moonshaddow's dingy, just outside the pass. As the sun set, we drifted along, hoping to see the whales, and enjoying sharing drinks and snacks. The conversation kept coming back to the last Harry Potter book, copies of which are being passed around the other two boats, but everyone was careful not to give away anything in the last book, my copy of which is coming with my father on Saturday. Sometimes living so disconnected has its benefits - I have been able to avoid having the plot spoiled.

Towing moonbeam (Moonshaddow's dinghy) out the pass

This morning Sten enjoyed a final session of uncrowded daybreak surfing at Fitii. The lucky dog saw the whales again. We leave in a few hours for Raiatea, and I'm hoping to see them during the crossing. We may even catch up with the paddlers, who set out in three man canoes on an interisland race to Raiatea this morning.

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