Friday, July 26, 2013

Huahine, Society Islands, French Polynesia

On July 9th we left Mo’orea and headed to Huahine, our third island in the Society Islands.  Huahine has a really laid back vibe that encourages sitting back and relaxing.  We attended a hieva which is a local contest of competing teams that sing and dance.  These month-long events are like a tournament with those teams receiving the highest scores advancing and eventually moving to the championships that are held in Pape’ete.  We watched a local team sing traditional Polynesian songs and dance traditional story-telling dances all under a huge venue set up just for these performances (complete with roulettes or food trucks parked outside for your dining pleasure).  It was a great way to experience the culture and traditions of the Polynesian people in a way that was more authentic than a hula show put on by some big hotel chain.  The singers' voices were sweet and clear and the harmonies were beautiful to listen to while the dancing was full of energy and involved dozens of male and female dancers.

The "sacred eels" of Huahine.
We rented mopeds one day and toured the islands.  Huahine is actually two separate islands, Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, enclosed by a common fringing reef.  Our moped tour took us to archeological sites as well as a visit to the famous “sacred eels.”  Now, I’m not sure what makes these eels “sacred” but that’s what the guide books call them.  The eels live in a shallow, man-made canal and when we visited, the blue-eyed eels were huddled together under an outcropping of the canal wall.  We didn’t know that you could feed these eels, otherwise we would have brought something to feed them and because of our lack of offerings the eels did not display much movement.  I think they were too busy being “sacred” to really put on a show.  They were neat to see though, even if my pictures don’t do them justice.

Safety first while riding mopeds on Huahine.
On our way back to returning the mopeds, we stopped at a hamburger shack on the beach for lunch.  The place was called “Da Best Burgers” and while they were tasty (and the fires were some of the best I’ve had since leaving the States!), and while Richard will disagree, it is here that I believe I got some of the worst food poisoning I have ever encountered in my life (and I’ve had more than a few bouts of food poisoning).  Luckily, we had picked up anchor the next day and moved to a deep bay, set our anchor on a coral shelf (that’s another story) and for the next three days, I alternated my time between the bed and the head.  I was doubled over with stomach cramps that would not quit for most of this time and instantly knew that something was truly wrong.  In the end, I guess you could call it the silver lining (as my glass is usually half full, ha!) I lost about 5 or 6 pounds…bonus!  Not that I recommend this method of weight loss, but there’s nothing like a nasty intestinal bug to shed a few pounds.

We returned to Fare, the main town in Huahine, and spent the next few days provisioning, getting on the internet and hanging out with our cruiser friends at the local yacht club which had a surprisingly good happy hour (250 CFP for a half liter of beer; in the States that’s like less than $3 for a little more than a pint…and believe me, in French Polynesia, that’s a steal!).  I spent a lot of time at Chez Guynette which was a little pensione on the main road in Fare, right next to the dinghy dock.  Dianne and Crombie, Australians, were running the place and I spent several mornings talking to them about their fascinating adventures all over the planet.  Shout out to Dianne and Crombie (and Guynette and Minieux!) and thanks for your wonderful hospitality and “insiders” perspective on French Polynesia (not to mention a decent internet signal).

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