Safely docked at the Papeete Marina after a rainy and windy sail from Tautira. The four night stay in lovely Tautira gave all crews an opportunity to unwind and catch up with friends on other vakas. Evening meals were shared under a set of large tents directly up from the beach. During the day each vaka hosted children from the local schools and many adults. While the days were hot the evenings cooled off considerably often due to heavy downpours. In fact the last night dinner/feast hosted by Pacific Voyagers' visionary mentor Mr. Dieter Paulman was enjoyed under a literal downpour. However in the best possible Pacific island custom nothing got in the way of exciting and enthusiastic dance performances; items by vaka crews and inspirational words by Mr.Paulman and Tua Pitman.
Of particular interest and applicability was Dieter's words about the voyagers and their achievements thus far. He pointed out since 2010 when much of this project began he witnessed a growing unity in the diversity that existed in our Pacific island countries. It was no longer the New Zealand vaka first, it was the Pacific Voyagers’. With 2012 came a renewed "spirit of oneness" as captains and crews grew closer as a result of shared hardships and uplifting experiences. We could certainly add there is a strength in diversity when it recognises and identifies with common causes and visions.
This is evident in the growing presence of vaka motus, smaller versions of the voyager's vaka moana designed to carry cargo and some passengers between islands. This return to traditional sailing is hopefully a precursor to having sail/wind powered drua/vakas in every country in the Pacific. With favourable winds this is an excellent concept for Rotuma to explore what with all their sea captains and seamen that could be available for duty! The first vaka motu is being piloted in Vanuatu. There's a second one on the way to another country as yet chosen.
With well over 150 past and present Pacific Voyagers extant there will be people carrying the torch of traditional sailing and marine conservation to many at home. There's a very strong case to present that the two while seeming to be different are actually mutually dependent. Healthy oceans free from terrestrial pollutants and able to rejuvenate themselves without intemperate fishing practices would be a sailor's delight.
The rain followed us all the way to Papeete where there hadn't been rain in three months until now! We're in port for 36 hours and it hasn't abated yet! We are told that clearing will come by Saturday morning. This is fortuitous as all seven drua/vakas will be on duty all day to transport visitors around Papeete Harbour. This will give crews an excellent opportunity to spread the word about traditional navigation and marine conservation.
Then on Sunday we head out to Fare Hape a sacred Tahitian mountain retreat where the entire fleet will spend time in contemplation, reflection and finally sharing of ideas leading to strategies that will foster and help disseminate our messages. This spiritual renewal is an excellent way to recharge batteries and get closer to our mana.
Friday was a busy day for us. After a yaqona ceremony of farewell Salome, LeeAnn and Jone took off for Fiji via New Caledonia and Joe, Aggie, Vili and Peni joined us via New Zealand. They received a warm, but wet welcome from their crew during the Memorial Ceremony to the famous Tahitian navigator that sailed with Captain Cook - Tupaia. After the ceremony the Voyagers were invited to eat at the Papeete Wharf area where caravans served a variety of home cooked meals. The steak and chips were delicious.
Some of the crew had an opportunity to visit the adjacent Visitors" Bureau where traditional demonstrations were taking place. We attended traditional medicine making using local herbs and plants and came away with bottles of Tahitian Noni and other phytopharmacology! The famous Tahitan oils - Monoe were being prepared as part of the demonstration. One very fascinating oil begins with grated fresh coconut [not copra]; Tahitian Tiare and the glands of the kasikasi [hermit crab]! While this sounds like an unlikely mixture, the aroma is lasting and pleasant.
Mausio and I were treated to a traditional oil based massage by a Tahitian man with massive hands and strength to match. After 30 days at sea it was an excellent way to relax and get the kinks out.
Papeete is a bustling small city that has grown considerably over the years. There are more Tahitian shops devoted to the sale of black pearls than there are fast food restaurants! As this is a Francophile nation the prices are tres François [very French] and plus cher [more expensive] than Suva! Oh but the pastries and other cuisine Françoise!
Check them out.......What do Iva, Jim, Jone and Josh have in common? Hint it happened in Tautira. No.......they didn't get married........they all got traditional tattoos! A lasting way to remember the unique experiences they had as a Pacific Voyager sailing on the Uto ni Yalo.
tabu soro friends and family.........................Tahiti is a wonderful part of our journey.
PS - Be sure you either come to Levuka or Laucala Bay, USP in June and make the welcoming of our fleet of drua the biggest and best in the Pacific.