Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun Times in Omaka

July 17, 2008--On Wednesday morning Andrew from the Ministry of Agriculture arrived at the boat to check us in. He was extremely polite and efficient. Steve filled out some forms and answered some questions, and we were done in about 30 minutes. Andrew had to hurry off because he was taking the island doctor across to the east side of the island to visit a patient so this helped to shorten the check-in.

Around 12:30 we took the dinghy into the village to look around. We had agreed to meet Larry and Tendra from sv Katie Lee in the afternoon to help get a single-sideband radio working for Alex and Christina, who live on the island. We first walked to Ru's house to take him a pair of flip flops and to get a scanned copy of our clearance papers from Papeete for our records. We talked with him for awhile and met his lovely family. I asked if I could take some pictures, so the whole family came out to pose for me. Ru asked if we could print out the pictures for him, and I answered that we could but only on regular paper, which he said would be just fine.

As we left his house and were walking towards Alex's house, a lady who was passing us on the road stopped to introduce herself. Her name is Flora Woonton, and she is the principal and a teacher at the school. Right after her came Cheryl who teaches the preschool. We had a lovely conversation with them, and they asked us what we had done in the States. They also told us that the children at the school were giving a presentation on Friday if we would like to attend, and, of course, we said we would love to. We continued on our way, but not 2 minutes later here came Flora on her motorcycle. She stopped and asked us if we would like to come by her house, so we followed her a short distance to a large two-story house. She lives there with her partner Tangaroa Ariki Tai. They both are originally from Penrhyn. Flora left and spent most of her time in New Zealand as a teacher. At one point, she was in South Carolina teaching for a short time as part of some international program. Tangaroa left and spent about 18 years in Australia working as a truck driver and forklift driver. He returned in 2006, and Flora returned just this past January. We enjoyed some ice-cold water and sat and talked while Tangaroa was cleaning a large catch of Grouper from a day out fishing. We loved visiting with these two people.

We were saying that we needed some New Zealand dollars in order to pay our fees before we leave Penrhyn. We had planned to get our bond in Bora-Bora back in New Zealand dollars; however, the teller told Steve they had none, so he took U.S. dollars. Anyway, Flora volunteered to take some of our U.S. in exchange for NZ money. She would be going to Raratonga the next week and could change it back. They were so helpful and so interesting to talk to.

We left around 3:30 since we had promised to stop at Alex and Christina's. We found their house and were introduced to everyone by Larry and Tendra. The guys went to a building in the back to work on the radio, and I stayed at the main house with Christina and Tendra. Christina was weaving a hat for Tendra's birthday on July 26. It was fascinating to watch her work--and it was a lot of work. Later Tendra took me to the back to meet some of the children. Annie, one of the older girls, now does the baking for the whole community. They have an oven in the ground made out of concrete. They put the loaves of bread into the oven, cover it with sheet metal, coconut husks, and finally a layer of cloth--anything they have available. Christina asked if I would like a loaf of bread, and I, of course, jumped at the offer. The cost was $4.50 so I gladly paid Annie when she brought me a loaf. It was a very large loaf, and it was still warm. It was going to be hard to wait until we got back to the boat to eat it. I learned from Annie that she was now out of flour until the supply ship comes back. Hopefully, that will be soon. We said our good byes and headed back to the boat. Before we left Alex brought us a zip lock full of fillet of grouper--wow!!!

When we arrived at the dinghy, there were about 8 young boys and girls swimming around the dinghy. When they saw us coming, they all decided to help us get our dinghy loose. A couple of boys got our dinghy anchor loose, and the rest held the dinghy while we got in. When we shoved off, they all hung onto the sides of the dinghy asking if they could go with us. They were all absolutely adorable.

When we got back to the boat, we got everything situated, and then we proceeded to eat about a third of the loaf of bread. It was absolutely delicious! We were quite tired after a long day so we enjoyed a delicious dinner of grouper in butter and garlic, rice, garlic toast, and a salad. We relaxed for awhile and then called it an evening.

Today we went into town around 9:30 to take in some cable for Alex's radio. We visited for a short time, and then left to stop by Tangaroa's house to drop off a picture. While we were there, he asked Steve to go spear fishing with him. Steve was so excited so we hurried back to the boat to get his gear ready. He took off with Tangaroa and two young men around 11 o'clock. They returned around 12:30 with just 2 fish, which Steve got to keep. The fishing might not have been good, but Steve had a great time. He said that the fish were all around the reef and so were the sharks. It was quite an experience, and I could tell that he loved every minute of it.

We ate a quick lunch and returned to spend the afternoon with Christina and Alex. Christina was still working on weaving Tendra's hat. Larry and Alex were able to get the radio working. Alex then asked Steve and Larry if they wanted to go spear fishing later in the afternoon, and, of course, they said yes. We returned to the boat, got Steve's gear together, and had a quick snack. Alex, along with three of his children, came to get them around 6 p.m. When they returned around 7 p.m., I was happy to see that they had caught about 25 fish. Steve got close but wasn't able to spear one; however, he had an incredible time. Once again he told me about all the fish and the sharks that he saw. This trip they had gone outside the reef to the ocean side, and Steve said that it was one of the best things he had ever done--he has never been in the water with so many sharks before. Luckily, they are all black tip sharks that pose no threat to the swimmers.

It has been a very busy two days here, and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. A cruising friend of ours will arrive Saturday morning so we will probably stay on this side of the atoll until then. At some point, we want to move over to the other side and visit the village there.

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