Sat June 24.
We rowed our dingey ashore to the concrete wharf.
Right there was a woman and a girl. Neither spoke English and we no French (we
had just got used to Spanish). The girl asked for bon bon which Annie knew
was lollies or sweets. Annie had packed some for our hike to the waterfall. So
the girl got some bon bons. There was a big gathering of the village at the
school so the streets were empty save for young children. Not one building had
one sign, in French or Polynesian. In fact the whole day we saw only one word
"telephone" on the phone box. A little odd to be in a place with not one word or
even an advertising logo anywhere.
We were going to visit the nearby waterfall and
have a bath. We read that you follow the stream for about 45 minutes. We walked
along a concrete road in parallel with the stream and valley. A boy child saw us
and finding we didn't speak French asked for bon bon and pens. Annie got
out a ziplock bag and the kid grabbed the whole bag. We grabbed it back, he
gripped it. The bag tore. We reached the end of the concrete road at a bridge
across the stream on which stood sideways a horse blocking the way. The horse
did not ask for bon bon. The now dirt road led up and away from the river.
We came upon a place where all the coconut trees had been felled and a plant
called noni was being cultivated. Apparently noni can help ward off cancer. We
ambled through the gorgeous countryside for an hour but didn't find the
Back in town we met more children. More requests
for bon bon and pens. The kids would also like to grab your watch and press the
buttons to hear the beep sound.
Back at the boat that afternoon we were visited by
a man who wanted to trade for fruit. The only thing we had that he wanted was
rum. So for a bottle of rum we got a bunch of bananas, a breadfruit and
about 10 oranges. He also asked for a gun and or bullets. A bit odd. In very
broken English he welcomed us to his island and mentioned the "cascade"
(waterfall). We said that we had looked but had not found it. He drew us a (not
very good) map. Then he said that he would show us the way tomorrow at 1
By now another boat had turned up. It was our
friends Mat and Toggs on Helane so we took food over and had dinner with
Sunday June 25
After a morning of boat jobs we went in to
meet our man. While I played "piggy in the middle" with some kids who of course
all wanted bon bons and pens. We had none today. Our man finally turned up with
his wife driving the boat and two kids. He dropped the wife and one kid off then
messed around with the boat for some time. At one stage he fell out and couldn't
get back in again and generally appeared very drunk. We figured that he was not
going to take us to the waterfall and even if he did we didn't want to be seen
going off with a drunk man. Maybe we won't trade rum anymore.
So we struck off on our own. We searched for 1 and
a half hours and gave up. Back in town we came across a man on the road
(rare). We asked him where is the cascade. We got better info from him and a
little sketch. So armed with this new knowledge we turned around and set off
once again. 45 minutes later we had found it. Luckily there were people coming
back from it who were able to confirm we were going the right way and how
far to go. Well I must say it was impressive. A sheer wall perhaps 300 -500 feet
high with a moderate amount of water falling casually (what else in Polynesia
where even waterfalls don't rush) to a pool about 60 by 20 feet and pretty deep.
Annie had a swim and then alas it was time to go to beat darkness.
Walking back in town we came across a young woman.
She chatted in broken English for a while and then came the punch-line. "My
father wants to trade for your fenders. He wants two". What could we get in
return? Fruit of course and maybe chicken (dead or alive we didn't know). We
uhmed and ahhaed and said that we could spare one fender. She really
wanted two. So we arranged to go to their hose at 1pm next day.
That night I told our friends on "Helane" that they
could swap a fender for fruit. So we arranged to take one each along
Monday June 26
As we walked through town with our fenders two
other people asked for them and one asked for bullets .22 caliber. At 1.30 we
arrived at the house to the sound of drums. The father and son were playing in
the yard. Introductions were made and then he brought to us a big bunch of
bananas, opened a coconut to drink the lovely water, gave us a coconut
each, two big pieces of barracuda and some oranges and lemons and a few
breadfruit. He asked us if we could sew him a cover for his outboard engine! He
showed us his huge fishing lures and hooks and photos of himself and his
children in costume at a festival. He said that tonight there was practice of
the dancing and music and that we should come along. And oh by the way you
will have to come back tomorrow for the chicken!
We carried our booty back through town and went to
the policeman's house (for the second time in two days) to check-in. He
wasn't there again. But he was at the dock when we arrived there. All we
had to do was write our boat name, names and passport numbers in his notebook.
This is not an official check-in but it will do for now.
At the boat we had an early dinner and went ashore
at 6.30. Well, the whole village was there. They were practicing for the
Bastille Day celebration in a few weeks time. There were about 12 drummers
with various types of drum, some with goatskin tops, some pere wood, a huge
biscuit tin and a huge tall bass drum that a guy stood in a wheelbarrow to
play. First the children practiced their dance routine, then the teenagers and
young adults. There were about 40 of each group of dancers.
And it turned out that the guy we traded with was the leader/ teacher of the
whole thing. When the dancing was over the drummers swapped to ukuleles and did
about 4 numbers. By 9pm it was all over but how wonderful it was. It's funny how
when you see these performances at festivals, I just seem to think that they are
born knowing how to do this stuff. It was interesting to see that they have to
learn and practice just like we have to learn the waltz or pride of erren or