Sunday, June 3, 2012

Raroia Part 2 blog

Our second day at Raroia Atoll was made special by a trip across the large
lagoon with new, local friends Regis, Tatiana and their daughter Kiva Hei.
They own a nearly-new, outboard motor-powered boat and picked us up from
the anchorage at 8:00am.  Our cruising friends from the boats "Buena
Vista" and "Island Bound" joined us for the outing.  While carefully
watching for shallow patches of coral, Regis maneuvered his boat at high
speed across the lagoon to Kon Tiki Island where, in 1947, Norwegian
explorer Thor Hyerdahl and his crew were driven ashore by the winds and
current ending their attempt to sail across the Pacific from South
American to demonstrate the possibility of how the area could have been
originally populated.  Mark remembered reading the book written about the
voyage when he was a young boy and believes that it planted one of many
seeds in his mind of what adventures there are to be had in our incredible

After visiting the island and going ashore to read the inscriptions on a
memorial plaque, we continued to another motu owned by Regis and Tatiana.
Their small, picturesque island resembled the classic South Pacific image
often seen on the cover of travel brochures.  The palm tree-covered island
is surrounded by beautiful beaches and clear, azure-blue water.  Regis
secured his boat to a coral outcropping just feet from a beach while we
unloaded supplies for our planned picnic.  After unloading, Tatiana and
Kiva Hei escorted the girls on a tide pool walk while Regis took the guys
to a reef in the middle of the lagoon to spearfish for our lunch.  Our
efforts provided the group with several fish that Regis bar-b-qued over a
wood fire back at their island.  During the tide pool hike, Tatiana and
the girls scoured the rocks for clams, snails and other edible delicacies.
When Tatiana came across an octopus, she quickly dispatched it with a
blow from the hammer she carried causing Anne to turn away with tears
streaming from her eyes.  We have often played with octopus while diving
and know of their high level of intelligence.  For Anne, it was especially
difficult accepting that people here regard them tasty treats.  This, and
the fact that residents of these islands will, sometimes raise dogs for
food, served as just another example of how our eyes are continually being
opened to customs far different from what we have experienced in the
United States.  It is difficult, from our perspective, accepting what is
normal in the lives of these people.
 After a lunch of fish, clams and sea urchin roe, Kiva Hei treated our
group to a dance and spoken history presentation about Raroia and its
people that she had performed, winning first place at a competition in
Tahiti.  Wearing a palm frond headdress and skirt over her beach attire,
she greatly impressed us with her grace and powerful vocals.   Before
long, it was time to head back to our anchored boats for a quiet evening
aboard.  Before turning-in, we made plans to take our dinghy, the next
morning, to the reef pass where we first sailed into the lagoon to SCUBA
dive.  Diving in the passes is often the most spectacular as clear ocean
water floods into the lagoons through channels in healthy, live coral.
The coral reef areas are home to an amazing assortment of diverse and
colorful sea creatures including a variety of sharks.  Unfortunately, when
we awoke the next morning, the wind was blowing with such force that the
nearly two mile dinghy ride from the anchorage to the pass would be rather
miserable and towing the dinghy with us as we dived and drifted with the
incoming current through the pass would be almost impossible.  We decided
to forego the dive and went instead to visit Regis and Tatiana to give
them a few small gifts and examine the selection of black pearls that they
had for sale.  Arriving shortly before noon, we found them already
blending batches of pina coladas.  While we sifted through bags and bags
of pearls, we shared the tasty drinks and talked at length about their
lives.  It was such a pleasure getting to know these exceptionally
friendly and interesting people and learning more about what life is like
in this tropical paradise.  After carefully examining hundreds of pearls
for color, shape and natural imperfections, Mark selected three that we
purchased for Anne to have made into ear rings and a necklace when we
return to the States.   Even more so than the beauty of the jewelry will
be the beautiful memories of where the pearls came from and the grand
adventure that has made obtaining them possible.  Rather than from a trip
to the nearest jewelry store, these keep-sakes come as a reward for having
worked hard to prepare our boat for the trip and sailing across more to
3,000 miles of ocean to get here.  Though we paid a modest amount for the
pearls, they and the memories of our passage will, to us, be forever

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