Harmonious Haamene, Tahaa
Wed 20 Aug 2014 21:25
Entering the bay.
How can one get tired of playing with the fishes in the Coral Gardens?
By the way, Ellie found our possibly-previously-unknown-to-man fish on line for us. He's a pink tailed triggerfish. Boring name! I'm sure we could have thought up a better one. Well, we didn't exactly get tired of the fish, more wanted a change of scene so we upped the anchor and went right up around the North of Tahaa and around to the Eastern side.
We had no trouble lifting our anchor, even though we were anchored in a patch of sand surrounded by coral heads. We had attached a couple of fenders to the chain so it would float above the coral as we rotated with the changes in wind direction, that way it wouldn't get tied up around the bommies. Other boats, especially some of the chartered catamarans (Jon invented a new nautical term for them, to accompany Kiddy Cats: Chartermarans) had a rather harder time of it. It was our morning and evening entertainment watching them try to lift their anchors and finding them stuck. One tried to just motor off at full speed and came up short with a clang. Another got it free but instead of staying still whilst they lifted it right up, they motored off with it still dangling and got it stuck on another bommie. A third gave up, went to bed and tried again in the morning...
We headed for Haamene, a little village at the head of a deep bay that almost splits the island in two - the sister bay on the West is just 2 Km away over a rise. It is so sheltered that it's one of the very few hurricane holes in the Society Islands. Haamene has a lovely atmosphere. Instead of "Bonjour" we were greeted by "Iaorana". Amongst themselves the locals spoke Reo Moa'hi, rather than French, the official language of the islands. There was a little market with local fruit and vanilla pods - they smelled divine. Something that Phil had noticed before was very obvious here. Instead of having graveyards folk bury their dead in their front gardens. There are tiled graves at the front of most of the houses, some with little roofs over them. It seems strange to us, but we do the same for our pets so it's not such a large jump to having Grandma and Uncle under the front lawn...
Jon grabbed this shot of a typical 'garden grave'.
With the help of a wonderful App on my iPhone called "Pocket Earth", a map and GPS that doesn't need an internet connection or 3G to work, we had located a path (the only path) that ran up the mountains and over to the main town, Patio, on the North of Tahaa. Jon and I decided to tackle it but had a bit of a false start because the route I thought was it turned out to take us to a cock fighting ring instead! It's legal here and apparently very popular.
Once on the right trail we had a beautiful walk, following the river as it turned into a roaring stream, then burbling waterfalls crossing the track as we zigzagged up the mountain side. It was raining on and off but it's so warm here that that just made it a great walking temperature. We started in pastureland, with coconut groves, then walked amongst ferns and creepers, papayas and wonderful flowering trees we didn't know the name of. All along the way there were interesting moses and lichens, on the trees and on the cliff walls alongside us. There were also some strange rubbery bright green stuff that seemed to grow in the puddles. It was a bit like lots of little ears in shape and texture.
When we got to the ridge we could see Haamene and over the ridge to the bay beyond, as well as Raiatea in the distance. We could see Lochmarin below us and VHF radioed Phil on the handheld so he could try and spot us using the binoculars. We'd just made contact when three quad bikes shattered the peace and came to a stop alongside us. However, they had a tour guide leading them and he gave us a map and entertained us by cutting sticks from one of the trees to make flutes and the punters were really nice and fascinated by the fact that we had sailed from the UK. Actually, I was in no position to be sanctimonious about their method of getting up the mountain as I had spent the whole way up thinking "Wish I was on my motorbike with a fresh set of knobbly tires!"
We're the boat on the right.