Reflections in Rangiroa

Mon 19 Jul 2010 18:42
We have experienced so much already, not just as a tourist, but glimpses of other cultures. In England we are used to owning cars, washing machines, dishwashers etc. For a few weeks now, the best I have had is a stone washing area with a cold tap. We have walked, but also hitch-hiked a lot. The supermarkets and restaurants often close at weekends. Trying to eat breakfast out is impossible in most places - if you ask a local they simply reply 'breakfast is eaten at home'. (this is a bit of in issue when you have done 3,000 miles and run out of Frosties and the shops are shut too!). Imagine turning up at a restaurant at 1.00pm to find they are closed for lunch and re-open at 6.30pm. (In the Marquesas, their hours for lunch were 11.00 - 13.00). Tourist offices might be open on Saturday mornings, but otherwise close all weekend. Our Lonely Planet Guide describes local Rangiroa supermarket hours as 'hopeless'. We are now getting used to the change from Reggae and dreadlocks to ukeleles and tattoos.
Today Caroline ate a 'EU standard' looking orange, perfectly round, orange in colour and tasting foul. We are used to real fruit - vaguely orange with brown/black discolouration, nearly round and tasting divine. Real fruit is 100 times better than that imported into the UK. If you want to buy bread here you have to order it in advance, as it is, of course, baked every day and they can't afford vast quantities of waste.
Sitting in a restaurant near the dock is a bit different - idly watching fish feeding (on scraps from us!) underneath. Lingering over lunch has become a bit of a habit.
The night of our meal out with 'The Swedes' as we call Arne and Goran, started out at the dinghy dock. While they sorted out the taxi we were watching a 7' shark eating a moray eel that it had just bitten the head off.
Popping to the dinghy dock during daytime provides sightings (very close up) of twenty baby sharks (1-2 footers). At Josephine's pension we have sat in the early morning and watched dolphins three times now. Caroline would like to live here for this view. (Josephine's is now run by her daughter - Josephine herself at about 80 likes to sit on her own terrace and watch the view most days). The water is so crystal clear you can sit and watch fish everywhere.
We actually managed a SCUBA dive here - in the Tiputa pass where the constant flow provides plenty of nutrients for the bottom of the food chain, giving life all the way up to barracuda and sharks - hundreds of reef shark were present for our dive, hammerheads also live there. (But we still prefer UK diving!)
We also snorkeled on the reef just inside the pass, where the sheer quantity of fish life surpassed most other places we have been, but the fish are used to people, so you can get pretty close.
After 8 days here we were finally rested for the first time since Panama, so left for Tahiti.