Raivavae Welcomes Us! (Update 24)
print this page

Update from Colin Philp
Onboard Uto Ni Yalo
Position: 23*52.0'South/147*41.2'West
Distance Travelled: 2658 Nautical Miles
Location: Rairua Wharf, Raivavae

Bula Viti kei Rotuma

What an incredible day! I am still a little shell shocked. Actually very
shell shocked from the amazing welcome we have received on Raivavae.

We followed Faafaite through Mahanatoa Passage into a well marked lagoon,
around Mount Taamora and into Rairua Wharf where a huge crowd was gathered
to meet us.

School children lined the wharf wearing green and white costumes, the
colours of Raivavae and wearing beatiful leis of fresh flowers. The drums
were beating and the locals swayed to the beat waving vigourosly as we came
alongside Marumaru Atua and tied up.

Each crew was welcomed shore one by one. We were third to disembark not
before we have dropped our Traditional sails and stowed them below deck.

We had been up since before light preparing for this occasion. Ratu Manoa,
Moala, Kelekele, Sonny, Paul, Kai'afa and Steven all dressed in traditional
clothing (sulu va viti). The rest of the crew were in our polo shirts and
sulu va tonga.

As we stepped ashore there was a huge roar of applause from the crowd.
Everyone wanted to shake our hands to greet us. We passed along a line of
waiting people shaking hands. School children, some of crying, put leis
around our necks. At the end of the line were the other crews already
ashore.

Once all the crews were ashore, the school children sung a song. Then each
crew responded with an item. The Uto ni Yalo warriors performed the Bole
after a short speech from Ratu Manoa.

We were then welcomed to the Town Hall where the Mayor gave a speech to
welcome us to Raivavae. This was followed by gift presentation from each of
the canoes. Again we were third and we presented a Sevusevu. The crowd moved
in closer as they obviously had not witnessed anything like this before.

When the Mayor took the first cup and sipped it, his Matanivanua, Tukana
encouraged him to finish the entire bilo. The crowd roared and the woman
folk applauded when he had finished the bilo.

Finally our skipper Johnathan presented the Tanoa to the mayor in English.
The tanoa had been carved by Tukana with UTO NI YALO, FIJI 2010.

Once all the presentations were done we were invited into a large tent
behind the Town Hall for a massive feast consisting mainly of seafood
including different types of fish like Ta (unicorn fish), cawaki sea
urchins, vasua (giant clam) and believe it or not, Dalo, Casava and Uto.

Then there was sweet grapefruit, niu (coconut)and a local bread very similar
to Rotuman Fikei.

The whole time we were eating a band entertained us with the local women
singing. Once everyone had eaten, the Mayor invited an elder to tell us some
local history about their legends on voyaging around the Pacific.

Soon after the women performed, inviting all the guests to follow their lead
as they danced. After a few performances, the crews were invited up to sing.
This time the Uto ni Yalo crew lead the way. Johnathan, Kai'afa and Paul
borrowed guitars from the band and we did two numbers - Bula Malaya and
Lomaloma. Everyone sang with so much energy and enthusiasm. What a crew we
have!

Following the crew performances was a couple more speeches and Johnathan and
I were invited to meet with the Mayor and the other skipper/Presidents in
the Mayors office upstairs.

Here we discussed the logistics for the days we are here including water,
toilets, showers, washing, provisions etc.

Apparently the island is very dry and water is scarce. Plus they only have
untreated rainwater so we can only use it for bathing or washing.

While we were in the meeting, the boys had got a game of touch rugby started
with the Digicel rugby balls that Digicel gave us in Fiji. Most of the other
crews joined in to work up a sweat before dinner at 6.30pm. Yes they are
putting on another feast for us tonight.

Then Johnathan and I got a ride to the local supermarket which was no bigger
than one of the Chinese Shops in Lami town. There was not much of a range
and the shelves seemed empty. We were advised to buy fruit and vegetables
along the side of the road when ever we see them displayed.

Tomorrow the crew will be taken on the local school buses for a tour of the
island. They will pick us up after they have dropped the kids at school then
they need to drop us off before 3pm so they can pick up the school kids
again.

When Johnathan and I arrived back from doing the shopping, we found a huge
crowd on board the Uto ni Yalo. You can guess what was happening. Oscar,
Moala and Ratu Manoa were drinking kava with the other crews.

Don't worry Dave and Richard, Oscar was still filming while he served the
kava.

More and more people were joining us on board for kava. Only a handful of
the crew were actually drinking kava. They were off having a swim and
bathing. Salome had managed to borrow a single outrigger canoe and went
blasting off in the distance while the owner of the canoe stayed on board to
drink kava.

Crew members from New Zealand, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu joined
us for kava with the locals jumping aboard as well. Over a dozen local kids
swam off the bow of our canoe so you can imagine the chaos on board.

A couple of teenagers had a guitar and Ratu Manoa encouraged them to sing
for us. Despite the language barrier, they were soon singing for us. What
cool music they play here. It is fast tempo music with the lyrics almost
sounding like rap.

The Uto crew didn't want to be left out and soon Kai'afa joined us with two
guitars. One he gave to Johnathan and then it was two songs from the Uto
crew and one from the local boys.

Everyone else joined in by clapping or beating on buckets. Most of our crew
are on a first name basis with all the other crew members now. One of the
local kids was even speaking some Fijian and I found out he had been at
Fulton College in Korovou.

We were interrupted at 6.15pm by an official from the Mayors office saying
we needed to go and eat. It was a short but memorable kava ceremony on the
aft deck of the Uto ni Yalo, one we will never forget.

I couldn't help thinking, god what an experience our young crew are having.
And this is only the start of our journey through French Polynesia and
beyond.

I apologise I won't be able to send through any new photo's till we reach
Moorea early next week as there is no internet connect available here. I
have to rely on sending my reports by Satellite phone which does not allow
me to send attachments.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this update as I have given up attending the
evening feast to send through this report. Hopefully Salome will remember me
and bring some left overs.


From Raivavae, moce viti!

Colin/Uto ni Yalo

Report by Satellite Phone courtesy of DIGICEL

(Photos of the Uto ni Yalo's arrival in Raivavae can be viewed at www.fijivoyaging.com)