Mon 2 Jun 2014 19:20
Imagine living in a world where the maximum elevation above sea level is about 3 meters... Perfect for cycling! It's the main form of transport here of course. There is a school bus but the vast majority of the children cycle, from reception kids, snaking their way on tiny wheels, to cool sixth formers, no hands, leaning back, drinking from a coke can. So we got the faithful Bromptons out and followed the road. First North, then South. That's all you can do, of course. There are a few other tracks to give access to houses but just the one road. It doesn't go all the way round the island - there are breaks of just reef between the motus (little islands that make up the ring of the atoll) but as Fakarava is 30 miles from top to bottom, it went far enough for us!
Everywhere we saw flowers. The people are very garden-proud, sweeping up under the trees, raking the gravel and growing masses of bright flowers. Even coconuts were carefully gathered into heaps for later use; a very cherished and well kept place to live. The church was amazing, decorated not just with flowers but with shells hanging like paper chains, in between fantastic chandeliers constructed from more shells. From the church hall we could hear choir practice, the litter of push bikes in the yard testifying to the number of children happy to give up some out of school time to be there.
Soon after we arrived I took the bucket from the galley to throw the slops over the side. I'm used to various fish coming to see what pickings they can gather but was disconcerted to find two little black tipped reef sharks coming up to the bucket! Alongside them was an unfamiliar fish, a little like a shark but not one, chunkier build and different tail and fins. After a couple of days we had four of these chaps under our boat, one as big as four feet long. We were able to see that they had a sort of sucker patch on the tops of their heads - they were remora, shark suckers. They attach themselves to bigger fish and scavenge for scraps. I think they thought we were a whale.
Catch up pics to follow!
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