Bora Bora on borrowed bikes.
Bora Bora on borrowed bikes.
The morning after our shark and ray adventure we moved Zoonie around to anchor off the main town of Vaitape in 23 metres. The motor sailing ship Wind Spirit was anchored off ferrying passengers ashore for excursions and we thought we’d keep her company!! Instead of the delightfully named Mount Poo Poo Ure Roa at 417ft we were overlooked by the second highest twin peaked Mount Pahia at 2170ft.
We hoped to pick up a mooring off the Mai Kai Marina but they were all taken so we were happy to save the mooring charge and lie to our own tackle. We could still use the marina of course and it was after our excursion to the chandlery to buy me a pair of flippers, the supermarket for some tuna and a French stick and then the bike lady to put off the hire of the bikes to Thursday as it promised to rain hard the day before, that we were supping some draft beer and we heard a familiar voice.
You may remember I mentioned American Kim from Seattle and his South American crew Katerina, who is a South American widow, aboard Philiosophy whom we met in Bahia. They left for the Pacific crossing before we set off to the Amazon, well we’ve caught them up. So we had a brief chat and agreed to share a meal before they plan to move on around Friday to Palmerston Island. Kim is curious about the Englishman who lives there apparently with 3 wives. Hope it doesn’t give him any ideas.
The weather forecast had been right and after a first visit to the gendarmerie to start the clearing out process we returned to Zoonie just as the heavens opened and gave BB a good drenching all the afternoon.
The next morning we were greeted at the quay by no less than the President of tourism who said he would keep an eye on the dinghy throughout the day for us. The cruise liner Paul Gauguin and our old friend the four-masted Wind Spirit were both in so the harbour was very busy and we were a little concerned for the dinghies. “You are seeing our islands in the best way, slowly by boat,” he said “I will do the same one day.”
Across the road we waited 45 minutes outside the shop for our bikes and decided to move on and rent two robust and colourful bikes from Alfred’s a black pearl and car hire emporium. “There’s no brakes, but don’t worry just pedal backwards to slow down and there’s only one hill anyway.” The lady said as she held mine for me to mount.
The weather was perfect, quite cloudy to begin with so a nice cool start. A man was clearing leaves in the driveway of the first hotel to be built, and the first to be destroyed by a hurricane, so I’m not quite sure why he was bothering, habit maybe.
Today the visitor has a choice and can stay on terra firma at a resort or take the risk of sleeping on stilts over the lagoon in a thatched chalet.
We watched tiny shells waddling along ‘our’ beach, propelled by the crab inside as we had lunch. The Americans came here for the Second World War and built the airport, which is so vital today for the island’s only major industry, tourism, and the road that skirts the rim of the island and along which the residents live. Fishing and small scale copra production were in evidence and the brewery was located on the quieter side of the island.
Next door women were weaving and sorting the metre long strips of thatch used in roof building. With much of the damage from the last hurricane still evident I should think their jobs were among the most secure on the island.
Slowly we walked up the hill where there are two American canons left over from the war, but we just admired the views over the lagoon to the reefs and outer rim of trees, taking in the beautiful variety of blue hues as the water depths varied and the white coral sand shone through from the seabed.
Cycling down the steep hill with a little backward pressure on the pedals was interesting, especially as there was a tight bend at the bottom to avoid the unwary being jettisoned into the landfill of plastic bottles in the tip at the bottom. A lot of people appeared to work here, judging by the full car park, taking care of the islands waste.
Suddenly a young lad ran his motor bike along the road infront of us to jump start it, racing off in a cloud of blue smoke. A young mother walked quietly alongside the road, her tiny baby resting its head on her shoulder. The open mausoleums suggested a kind of permanence, heredity in the handing down of the homes to the younger generation, otherwise what would happen to the tombs if the people were to move house?
A small development to the east was being developed into a harbour area and building materials were landed from a red ship moored in the anchorage by way of a small landing craft. This seemed to be the industrial port, where Vaitape is the cruise ship and ferry terminal.
Being only 32 km around, the island can be circled by bike in a very short time but we lingered here and there and returned the bikes after four hours of fun and with one slightly sore bum returned to Zoonie before venturing to MaiKai Marina for supper with Kim and Katerina.
After our extreme refuelling experience in Nuku Hiva the task here was much easier. With a short distance in the tender and a dinghy and small yacht friendly well fendered wall we filled our cans and then the main tank to find we had used much less than predicted. Concluding that using the engine to charge the batteries alone takes much less than the 2 litres per hour used when in gear.