When we recovered from whatever overcame us, all
was to be revealed as we passed this scene...
and some rather amateur pig butchery....
................. all in the pouring rain!
A hair cutting and ear piercing
ceremony.............. an 8 year old boy was about to have his hair cut for the
first time and a girl of 11 was to have her ears pierced. The large number of
guests had apparently donated to this family event and in return were being
given large amounts of pork, chicken and taro. We still do not really know what
the origin or the significance of the event was, we were told there is no
special age for this, just when the family can afford it. Any further
information would be happily received.
After this stop we went on to a Noni farm where
they produce, on a large scale, the pressed juice form this smelly but
ubiquitous plant that is used as a tonic and cure all throughout Polynesia. The
taste is moderately disgusting but we bought a litre and Lorraine is testing its
efficacy with a daily dose.
We finished the day with a visit to the east coast
where the landscape has been eroded into all sorts of fantastic shapes by the
continual action of the salt spray on the soluble limestone.
But within this dramatic scenery was an oasis of
We had a fascinating day touring the island. We
even had a beer with the Minister for Tourism as we sheltered in his bar while
the heavens opened. Sadly we do not have a photo of him but at a local market we
met this lovely lady.
This island deserves to be visited more
It has a fascinating landscape with cave systems that remain largely
unexplored and a people who are as welcoming as any we have met anywhere in
Polynesia and with a good sense of humour.
The island depends on a lot of external support
mostly from New Zealand but we also noticed investment from China and the EU. We
were told that the Chinese were very keen to step in should the New Zealand
government ever decide to reduce its commitments. The exports at the moment
consist of taro, honey ,fish and noni. Increased tourism would help to reduce
the precarious nature of the economy and hopefully encourage more of the people
to stay on the island. There are many abandoned buildings on the island and many
graves in amongst the forest trees The impression is of an island that is at a
watershed where it could develop or simply fade away.
There is much to praise here. The tourist office
was one of the best we have been in (light years ahead of the surly reception of
some Caribbean Islands!) Every single person we spoke to whether native or New
Zealander were unfailingly polite and helpful and in the short time we have been
here we have seen some really unique landscapes.