Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Festivities at Penrhy

July 21, 2008--On Friday, a large squall came over the island, and we had a very nice rain shower that helped to clean off some of the salt that was still attached to the boat. Around 2 o'clock we went in to shore to drop off a pasta dish for Alex's birthday party that evening. Steve helped Alex with his single-sideband antenna while I visited with Christina while she made grass skirts for the school's performance at 6 o'clock. She and her daughter were making the skirts as well as flower leis. As always, it was fascinating to watch them work. I talked with Christina and asked her all about her 11 (yes, that is 11) children, two of whom are twin boys. She told me all of their names and ages. I am still trying to remember them all. In addition to her own children, she and Alex are raising one grandchild and an adopted daughter. To say that they have a "full house" is an understatement.

After awhile Steve and I left to find the manager of Telecom on the island because he sold postage stamps. We try to buy a stamp at each new country that we visit. We thought that we could just walk up to his house and buy the stamp--wrong. First he asked us to sit down and started asking us questions about where we had come from etc. Then his wife came out with cake, doughnuts, and juice. She joined us for a visit. After about 30 minutes we hopped into his truck, and he drove us to the Telecom office on the one dirt road on this side of the island. There he pulled out a folder with about 20 different Penrhyn stamps inside. They were all so beautiful that we ended up buying 8 stamps, 4 for each of us. When we finished, we had to wait for a few minutes while he took care of some business--we walked to the beach to enjoy the beautiful view--and then he drove us back to the wharf where our dinghy was. We climbed out of the truck bed and thanked him for all his hospitality. He asked us if we had some blank CDs that we could spare, and we said that we would bring some to the performance that evening.

As usual, our dinghy was covered with children who were playing in the water. They love to climb up on the dinghy and then jump into the water. Most of the kids were boys, but one or two girls are usually present as well. We climbed into the dinghy and then started the difficult process of getting them to let loose of the dinghy and move away from the engine propeller. They always ask to go out to the boat with us, but we usually talk around that idea.

We went back to the boat to get ready for the evening in town. We returned around 5:15 and went to find the Community Center where the performance was to be held. We missed it but found the Protestant church, which we hope to attend, as well as the remains of a World War II Liberator bomber named, "Go-Gettin-Girl." The U.S. built the airfield here during the war, and a few buildings remain, although the foundations are about all that remain for most of them.

We decided to walk to Alex's house to go with them. When we got there, we were given beautiful flower head leis to wear. Larry and Tendra from sv Katie Lee were also there. We all walked to the Community Center together and found our chairs. Flora, the principal, made sure that we were sitting on the front row so we had a good idea of what was to come. The presentation started a bit late, but when it did, it was wonderful. The small children were the first to perform, and the groups progressed upward in age. A special treat was a beauty contest where the contestants were the senior boys dressed up at women. They had on dresses, heels, hats, and jewelry, and the people loved it. There were cat calls and whistles, and a vote was taken for the prettiest one. The boys really got into the spirit of it and put on quite a show. The older kids then came out to perform. One dance was done by just the older girls. Their head pieces and hip belts were not made out of flowers but were made of plant materials, and they were gorgeous. We found out that in French Polynesia the hips are moved in circles; however, in the Cooks the hips move up and down.

Next, the kids all came out to the audience and picked a dancing partner. One young lady was headed for Steve, but someone else beat her to it, so she grabbed me. She was very friendly and told me to simply follow her dance when it was our turn. Two pairs at a time went out to the center of the floor with the kids leading the dancing and the adults following. Steve and I did our best, but I don't think that we would win any awards. At the end of the presentation the adults began making speeches, which were in their native language, and donating money to the school. We were happy to make our contribution to raise funds for sports equipment for the school.

We all went back to Alex and Christina's for a late dinner. The children put out rice, hot dogs, meat patties, and the traditional tuna in coconut milk along with a huge cray fish (more like a Maine lobster). I brought some pasta salad and Trenda made some spaghetti. Their daughter Annie had baked a chocolate cake for Alex's 50th birthday so we all worked to light the 50 candles on the cake, and then Alex worked to blow them all out. The family sang "Happy Birthday" to him with those lovely harmonized voices. We ate a wonderful meal and enjoyed a delicious piece of cake. It was after midnight when we returned to the boat, tired but delighted to have been part of such a lovely evening.

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