Friday, July 26, 2013

Ra'iatea, Society Islands, French Polynesia

After a little more than a week on Huahine, we lifted our anchor and headed to Ra’iatea.  Our first stop was in Baie Hotopuu on the southeastern corner of the island.  We were able to do a little sailing on the way over, but by the time we found our way into the pass, we started the engine to ensure that we were able to navigate our way into the bay.  On our way in we passed a tiny motu (islet) that had a corrugated tin shack on it and a bucket seat from a car facing the shore.  It might have been someone’s fishing seat or just a place for someone to sit and relax with a maitai while watching the setting sun.  Incidentally, the word maitai comes from the traditional Tahitian language of Reo Mao’hi, and means “good.”

Sarah, Ben, Jacques, Adam and Richard at
the outrigger canoe races in Opoa, Ra'iatea.
Together with the crews of Kyanos and Dragonsbane, we hiked into the town of Opoa one day and even though it was a Wednesday and not a known holiday to us, the whole town appeared to be at the beach that day for a day of outrigger canoe races.  We hung around and watched several of the races and had lunch (chicken sandwiches on baguettes with French fries in the sandwich!).  I always carry a bag of balloons with me in my backpack and started handing out balloons to the little kids on the beach.  Most were shy and had to be coaxed by a parent to accept the balloon but once in their hands, the kids really seemed to enjoy chasing the balloons as they bounced along the shore.

Several in our group grabbed ice-creams and we headed out on the main road for a hike that we hoped would afford us a good view of the anchorage and our boats but that was not to be.  The trees and the curve of the road prevented us from seeing our boats but we enjoyed the hike just the same (a great way to walk off the calories associated with sandwiches that contain French fries).

Dinghy tour with Dragonsbane and Kyanos on Taha'a.
After a couple nights in Hotopuu we pulled up our anchor and headed to Baie Faaroa, a mere 6 miles up the shore.  Baie Faaroa is a deep indentation on the east side of Ra’iatea in addition to having pretty deep depths throughout the bay.  The weather had started building a few days earlier and by “building” I’m specifically referring to the winds.  Over the past few days we had been seeing the winds build to around 15 knots which wasn’t too uncomfortable but definitely something to keep our eyes on in the hopes that it wouldn’t build much further than that.  The highlight of our time in Baie Faaroa was a dinghy ride up the Riviere Faaroa.  While not bursting with animals, the quietly meandering river was a welcomed calm to the windy anchorage.  We ended up landing our dinghies and taking a tour of a “plantation” where our host treated us to fresh coconut water and bananas.

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