It’s my Beatles birthday and we picked up Tim and conned the dinghy out to the reef for a bit of a snorkel. Not a lot of variety but we enjoyed the clear water and the company of black-tipped sharks.
In the evening Tim joined us and the crew and guests of Enki II brought some fine bubbly and a gift for the birthday girl and we all shared my famous chocolate cheesecake (ok, it’s Anna Thomas’s famous Chocolate Cheesecake) and we topped off a beautiful day in the company of friends.
We rented bikes to ride around the northern island of Huahine with Tim and loved the smooth, paved, mostly flat road. Still, we’ve lost our cycling muscles and we think we really ought to do this more often.
Just outside town we saw this young man bagging up coconut husks to ship to Tahiti. I would have thought Tahiti had enough of their own, but as Jack says, everybody works.
A little further down the road we saw a tiny vanilla plantation. Actually it was about as big as our city backyard in Pittsburgh. All the vanilla trees were in pots, and the owner walked us through process. It takes nine months for the beans to ripen, and three months to dry them, so now you know why pure vanilla extract isn’t cheap. The woman and her mother have a shop selling all their vanilla products, from powder and extract to whole beans and vanilla scented oil. I had just bought some extract in Tahiti but I bought another small bottle here. I know that every time I use it, this day, this island, and the friendly mother-daughter duo will be on my mind. It’s the best kind of souvenir.
Along the river are stone fish traps, hundreds of years old. The fish are swept toward the point of the vee on the outgoing tide and trapped in a holding area. Some of these traps are still in use.
Our farthest foray was the little town of Faie, famous for its blue-eyed eels. Creepy, I say.
We saved the big archaeological site for the ride home, maybe not a good plan. By that time it was hot and we were tired. But it’s the most extensive site in French Polynesia and very well taken care of. The problem for us at these sites has always been the marginal interpretation materials. Most have large placards at the entrance to a site, but no brochure with a map and numbered guide so we know what we’re looking at. This construction, with vertical slabs of coral, is something we hadn’t seen before and we’re not sure what its purpose is.
We ended the day ashore at happy hour with half-priced beer and a pretty good sunset. That’s Raiatea on the horizon, our next landfall.