Thursday, October 27, 2011

Island Hopping

Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa – French Polynesia

Our first real passage since the boys left feels...refreshing, actually.

It feels good to be moving towards our goal.  It just feels good to be moving.  Wind in the sails, wind in your hair.  Bring on that horizon!

With no further time to waste, we hit 3 islands in a week.  In Huahine we mostly do touristy things the Lonely Planet tells us to.  We visit the pearl farm & vanilla plantation.  I went hiking up to a viewpoint to take some alone time, getting back in time for the best deal Happy Hour we've found since Panama - 750francs/pitcher (~8.50$).  Captain & I buddy up on times like these.

My big event on Huahine was the World Cup of Rugby final.  All the French Polynesians have been cheering for New Zealand all tournament, with the exceptional promise to cheer for France if they are the unlucky bastards to play the AllBlacks in the final.  And so it goes.  Just in time to watch the Hakka - perfect timing!  I am invited to drink French wine while I cheer with the only other AllBlack fan.  Final score 8-7 for the home team.  The restaurant was filled with loads of disappointed French & one grumpy South African who can't cheer for NZ out of good conscience.  This is the Olympics for the Kiwis, & with Aukland as the host city, they will surely leave it in ruins!

According to Lonely Planet, Raiatea is the yachting capital of FP.  They must be crazy.  It’s a big island with small infrastructure.  At the end of a secluded bay, we take the dinghy upriver as an ode to Apocalypse Now.  Immersed into the valley, mangroves canopying overhead & palms brimming the shores.  Very quiet with beautiful flowers drifting all around.  A man on an outrigger canoe accompanies us to help guide us through the shallow patches of the river.  It is suspicious enough company, so we keep our guard up & back out posthaste.

The next day we go in search of a trail called the 3 Waterfalls.  Hanne & Jamie turn back no longer wanting to search (plus H's hit hard by the mosquitoes, but they don't like my cold blood.  Ha!)  I trek on.  It turns out to be vigorous & wonderful!  Bamboo stalks, ropes to help climb up rock faces, many waterfalls & many refreshing pools to cool off in.  Delicious fresh water!  Some things feel better going on your own.  Infused my inspiration.  Fantastic!

I get this feeling that I'm going to get my comeuppance for doing the hike while they forewent it.  Oh well.  Just across from Raiatea sharing the lagoon is Tahaa.  We head to where we were told about a great snorkeling spot.  After we beach the boat, wriggle free, & anchor safely, we ask the French boat next to us describes exactly where to find it.  I'm unsure with the directions.  One thing I do know is that everyone says to bring water shoes to walk on the razor sharp coral.  Yeah, I don't have those so I'll have to do with what I've got.

We go to where there's a very shallow river with a ripping current.  Can you already see how this is going to go wrong?

Hanne & Jamie push on.  I tell myself 'Well I'm NOT going to be left behind!'  While I'm shuffling my feet through the sand, a wave knocks me down & my sandals come up.  Tossed.  Spun around, I grabbed one, reached for the other, scraped along the ground in the meantime.  Clutching some rock outcropping, still only in maybe 2ft of water, with the pressure of the current on my chest & watching my crew meander away.  Great.  I find my way to my feet & over to the dry razor sharp coral where at least it's dry, out of the river & I can wear my shoes.  Limping - fuck.  When H & J come over, I am assessing the damage.  An urchin definitely left its mark on one foot –about 20 spines worth - while the other's just cut up, with a rogue spine in my finger somehow.

I am escorted back to the boat to lick & pick at my wounds & get the correct directions from the French boat.  Not feeling too hot.  It was only minutes before that I was talking about my cactus incident.  My ominous instincts were correct.

Opted out of fun crew activities the next day to rest my feet.  I ended up dancing 13km across the island anyway, dancing in the rain.  It started as a dull throbbing, but it’s no worry.  I’ll be forever taking needles out of my foot & I’ve got time.

It’s funny how it happens, but some things feel more natural alone.  More like anything is possible.

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