Rarotonga

I am on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. I admit I don’t know much about these Islands. I flew here because I was not keen on sailing here from Bora Bora. Chris and crew – Huub & Guillaume – are on their way. Hopefully, they will arrive by the time my reservation runs out.

I’m staying at a place on the north side of the island, with access to the beach, which is rocky, with very fine sand – if it is wet, I sink right in. Walking in the surf during high tide, black lava rocks, chunks of coral, and the occasional coconut hit my feet. It is unusual to find a complete shell of any size, as they would have to be carried over the reef without being slammed into the coral. The beach here is deserted. I spend hours alone on it.

I’m enjoying some decent internet access, hot showers, and the ability to walk around. I’ve made friends with locals & tourists, as well as with dogs & cats. The food is still awesome, and I found a decent bar J. I haven’t had my hair cut in four months. The women on the islands wear theirs long, and the manager here advised me that I shouldn’t trust them with my shorter hair. I should be a sight by the time I get back to the US.

I’m trying to look into my next step, which should be Tonga, or maybe Nuie, and then Fiji. There must be some of you who would like to join us …

Pictures!

We’ve been neglecting to add photos to the blog because the wifi is unreliable. I will try to show you a few of mine today. First, Rangiroa:

Sunrise                                     Look at that color!                         Rose at sunset


Lulu                                                         View from Gilligan’s Island


A feast on the Big Green Egg for a lovely evening

Tikehau:

Well, that took my entire battery. More later.

Bon Appetit!

6/12/17

We are IN Pape’ete, Tahiti. I mean, the marina is right downtown. This place should be visited when you have access to A/C and a pool. It’s HUMID. At least living on the water, the insects don’t bother you as much.

There are advantages to being in a city, though: there are stores where you can buy boat parts, hardware, etc., that don’t exist in a village. Top of our list is getting our propane tanks refilled, and one of our bimini supports needs welding. Then we will head back to Moorea.

Pape’ete is quite modern and very French. There are markets, bistros, and boutiques. I already took care of obtaining the obligatory souvenirs: a pareo & some black pearls. Of course, when I travel, my favorite diversion is the food. Chris found out about some food trucks near the ferry terminal. We went there last night and had sumptuous seared red tuna. There is a large market downtown that you have to hit around 6:00 am to really get anything. There are also Carrefour supermarkets. If you have ever been to France, you’ve probably seen these. The food selection is stunning. There is a cheese department. There is a long refrigerated aisle of nothing but charcuterie. You can get a two-foot long fresh baguette for about $0.50. I picked up a beautiful package of the tiniest (1 cm sq) raviolis for $2.00.

This morning, we sat in the cockpit while it poured around us, and Chris attacked a pamplemousse . These are also called Asian grapefruits or pomelo, and you can sometimes find them at Uwajimaya. They take some work, but they are worth it. The skin has to be cut. Under that is about an inch thick of pith. Then, you have to remove the tough membrane around each slice. But when you taste it, you realize this is what grapefruit aspire to be.

A couple nights ago, Chris did a spectacular job of grilling a big prime rib steak that I had slathered with roasted garlic paste. We still have some duck breasts in the freezer. And I have a couple of bottles of French Rosé. I think we’ll survive.

Bounding Main Indeed

5/31
So, let me just say this: 30 – 35 knot winds, 2 – 3 meter swells, wind forward of the beam, no horizon (dark).

We had been putting up with a great deal of swell in the anchorage in Rangiroa for a few days, and we were both tired of it. We even started to sleep perpendicular in the bed, so the rocking would be head-to-toe instead of side-to-side. Also, we were getting low on LPG, which runs both the dinghy motor and the stove. Chris tried to contact Mr. Christian to see if the weather boded well, but caught the tide and let it roll. If this was a disaster movie, you would think “Don’t do it!” Right?

As the sun went down and the ride got rougher, I didn’t lose faith in either the boat or Chris. It’s just that I was blowing my cookies, and I couldn’t stand watch. Not that just standing watch was what those seas called for. When we finally anchored outside the pass to Tikehau, I was happy we both made it through that. It has taken a couple of days to get my whole body back to “normal.”

Chris was able to make a connection with Jody in his sailboat Strider, and he showed Chris how to use some software he had to predict things like wind, swell, and wave periods BEFORE taking off on a trip. We are doing that now, trying to help me decide if I will sail or fly to Tahiti. Yes, I still may sail.

6/1
Chris is running models of the wind & sea state to determine when we should try again for Tahiti. Lesson learned: don’t sail without hearing from the weather experts.

We really like it here in Tikehau. Population is only about 400. Several pensions (like bed & breakfasts or small all-inclusive places) with diving, two grocery stores. But it’s lovely. We went to a nearby pension for lunch yesterday. There was so much food, and even dessert! Not cheap, but I think we can splurge every now and then. We have some food put away from Rangiroa, so we are good there. Tonight we will put a duck breast on the big green egg. There is a bakery! – fresh baguettes & croissants, and even pizza.

We went by the store this afternoon to replenish our beer supply. I also picked up a lovely cucumber & a bottle of Côte de Provence Rosé. I’m getting more comfortable with my French. On the way back to the dinghy, a Polynesian couple invited us to sit with them, and they played guitar & ukulele for us, to welcome us to the island. Their neighbor lopped off a couple of coconuts for us to take back to the boat. What delightful people. I could come back here.

Nancy in French Polynesia

5/20
The sun comes up every day at 5:30 am and sets at 5:30 pm. It seems to run backwards, until I get used to the sun’s arc across the north instead of the south. We spend our days not wearing much and not too occupied with activity. Mostly, we read. Once a day we go to shore for wifi, food, or just to be on land. After living in a condo more than 100 stairs above the street, I’m not getting much exercise here. It is 85 degrees, and so is the water. We drop into the lagoon when it gets too hot. There is usually a breeze. It rains occasionally, but never for long.

Everyone here is very friendly, greeting us with “Bonjour!” or “Ça va?”, even when they pass us on dinghies. My French is coming back to me, so it is easier to engage.

The boat has A LOT of food still on it – mostly beans (canned & dried). I’m told it will all have to be disposed of when we get to New Zealand, so I’m trying to be creative. The little grocery store has the basics, plus some lovely French delicacies. What vegetables they have are mostly frozen. We can’t figure out why they don’t grow them here. I really want a fresh tomato.

Living on the boat is easier than I expected. Mostly because I’m with Chris. We are both brown. Our hair is in a perpetual state of wind-blown – his is tipped blond. We have few needs or worries. It’s hard not to be happy. I can’t believe I’m really here.

I have a tendency to get terribly motion sick. Whenever I start feeling queasy, I take some medication we found in Mexico. After several days, I haven’t needed it anymore!

We are sitting in the cockpit drinking wine while Chris plays guitar. The stars are brilliant above us. I’m beginning to think I will try to sail with him to Tahiti instead of flying.

Rangiroa

5/18/17

We stopped by the grocery today.  Did not expect much as the supply ship comes a few days.  So if they were out last week they still are.  Except for Eggs!  They had some so we stocked up.  Fair bit of swimming off the boat in the heat of the day.  In the middle of that a dingy comes along and suggests hosrdevours (which I can never spell!) at their boat Southern Cross at 5pm.  Bring your guitar.  And prepare to sing.  Great fun.  Richard , Phil and Carole were great hosts.  Retired people not acting their age. My favorite. Dr. Phil and his wife Carole just accomplished retiring from ophthalmology at Kaiser. Richard and Phil had been in a band together in medical school so many years ago. I offered a few pieces on my backpacker guitar. But Richard had a remarkable encyclopedia of music in his head. And everybody sang. Especially Nancy with her unnatural memory for lyrics. They left the next day but I expect to see them at the Puddle Jump Rendezvous on the island of Moorea, about 10 miles from Tahiti. Nancy and I went home before we ran them out of wine.  Very little was spilled….  🙂

5/19/17

Today I bent myself of getting acquainted with the batteries and charging scene.  I think something has been out of order for awhile and I have not been getting good information on my battery state.  I suspect undercharging since I left Mexico.  May need to equalize to get around sulfation that is known to be associated with undercharging.  That is another day’s project…  For now I think I have things under control.

And a supply ship came.  Yay!  The restaurants have been running out of food.  Pretty interesting.  Hundreds of islanders descended on the pier at the end of a dead end road. It was a bit of a cluster. All sorts of goods. Air conditioners, diapers, cases of canned things, 20 liter (5g) jugs of water, leaf blower, pallets of beer, pallets of butane, huge tanks of petrol, on and on. Most of it showed up in maybe 8×10 ft containers. Odd things people had ordered online perhaps. But the veggies that were rumored to be coming were not present. Oh that would be tomorrow’s boat….

There goes the neighborhood

5/10 -11 [Wifi access is only periodic here, so no telling when we can post updates!]

Three flights, four time zones and nearly 24 hours later, I (and my suitcase!) finally reached Rangiroa. Chris & I agreed immediately that the time apart had been TOO LONG. I saw Lynn only long enough to say “hi” & “goodbye”, as she was flying out on the same plane.

It’s beautiful – just like every postcard you’ve ever seen. The water is a shade of blue I thought could only exist with a filter, and it’s clear all the way to the bottom.

I want to explore the local area. My brain is still in Spanish mode. I need to dredge up my French. You can buy sarongs and pearls. There seem to be quite a few restaurants, and so far, the food is great – especially the bread. Chris reports the local wine isn’t very good, but French wine is available.

5/12 – 13

We spent a couple of nights at anchor. In the morning, two cruise ships arrive. We sail across the “lagoon” about 15 miles to another side and anchor off some motus. Only one other boat nearby. No one on shore. No Wifi. Just us.

At night, we sit on deck and look at more stars than I knew were out there. We have no place else to be until 6/20.

¡Hasta Luego!

The low season is creeping up on La Cruz. The festivals have passed. Gringos are heading to cooler, less humid places, – or like Chris, the South Pacific, – and the town belongs more to the Mexicans. Flowers are really starting to come out, as are the flies. There are clouds where it’s usually clear. And the pool is GREEN.  ew.

I’m organizing myself to travel tomorrow: Cleaning out the fridge. Getting laundry done. Saying “good-bye” to people & places I’ve gotten to know. Putting my temporary home in order. I know we will come back to this place sometime. No telling when, at this point. But I have LOTS of memories to take with me to Rangiroa, where my love waits for me. That makes leaving much easier.

Land Lubbing

While Captain Chris & Crew get their land legs back, maybe you are wondering what I am doing, other than transmitting their adventures (or maybe not, in which case, you can wait till tomorrow).

La Cruz is a sleepy little town that has a few unique things going for it. There is a fairly large Gringo community, at least in the high season, but that is because there is a marina here. This is not a tourist town – no little shops full of chotchki souvenirs. The marina has lots to offer. There is an organized kid’s club that has lots of activities, including some to benefit local charities. They hold yoga & Spanish classes, and special speakers give presentations on a variety of subjects – like how to take the bus. There is a free movie at an amphitheater on Thursdays, where they sell wood-fired pizzas and beer. On Sundays, there is a Pike Place-type market where you can get food, artisanal cheese, crafts, clothes, flowers, etc.

Speaking of food, the restaurants in La Cruz are great! Along with some of the best tacos and guacamole (and Margaritas) I’ve ever had, there is great Italian, German, Japanese, Mediterranean, British, and Organic food. Tacos on the Street makes all their tacos using rib-eye! Diez Langosta makes Nitro ice cream! Cafe Shule’l makes me a green juice smoothie every morning (celery, nopales, parsley, pineapple, and fresh-squeezed orange juice – yum!!). Masala has a lovely wine selection. Ceviche is everywhere, and amazing. Several places make exceptional espresso drinks. A place called My Cakes makes the most indulgent chocolate cake you can imagine. Everything is fresh, home-made, and delicious.

There is the live music. Yes, there are traditional Mexican bands., but what I like is all the great Rock & Roll. There are a lot of musicians around here who play all over. There is an open mic night where they all just show up, group & re-group into various bands & play all evening. Notable are Leon, who plays the washboard, and Eddie, who plays the spoons!

Saturday nights, there are usually celebrations for the locals in the town square. That always includes music, but lately also rides & games for the kids, more food, dancing horses, and fireworks. The last few weeks have been a non-stop celebration of Pasqua (Easter), Semana Santo (holy week),and now La Cruz days. There are parades every night, and M-80s that explode every morning around 5:30. I guess it really doesn’t sound so sleepy.

There is, of course, a lovely beach. And there are very lovely people. Everyone greets you on the street. I make a point to greet all the dogs & cats (of course). And I’ve made friends. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends from “home” visit me while I’ve been here, too. It has made it easier while Chris is so far away.

Now I am counting the days before I fly out to meet him in the Tuamotus (look them up).