Thursday, July 24, 2008

Penrhyn Birthday

July 23, 2008--On Saturday Steve went in to help Alex work on his antenna while I stayed on the boat cleaning and doing laundry. Steve returned in the early afternoon, and we just took it easy the rest of the day. Around 6 o'clock Alex suddenly showed up with his two older boys and his daughter Annie to go spear fishing again and asked Steve to join them. He was thrilled to go. They returned about an hour later with about 20 fish, none of which were Steve's. His one good shot bounced off the fish and left it only bruised and battered.

Sundays in Penrhyn are strictly "no work" days. We had planned to attend church; however, the waves were pretty high, and we were going to get very wet. We had a few other things to consider, so we just stayed on board working on things that had been delayed because of our busy social calendar. We were waiting for a cruiser named Ernst on sv Accord to arrive. We met him in Cabo San Lucas in March when we stopped for fuel, and he was also making the crossing, only he was not with the Puddle Jump group. He headed south to the Gambiers and to the eastern Tuamotus. Steve and Ernst have kept up a radio schedule since then, and now we were going to be in the same place once again. He did arrive right at 11 o'clock and dropped his anchor where Katie Lee had been.

On Monday morning we decided to go for a walk on the beach and do some shelling. We went in and stopped by Alex's, but no one was home so we continued on to the beach. This beach has a large breaking surf that is just spectacular to watch. We did find a few shells, but nothing very exciting. We decided to return to the village and walk down to the northern end. We were making the circle back around to Alex and Christina's when a couple called out to us to join them. William and Jamima are an older couple who have lived on Penrhyn all their lives. We sat and talked for awhile, and they were kind enough to give us some bananas and a squash before we left. Alex and Christina drove by on their way home, so we left for their house. Steve and Alex sat outside working on fishing gear while I joined Christina in the back house. The smaller children were there so I blew up balloons for them to play with, and soon the older kids were all coming home. We asked Alex and Christina if they would join us for birthday cake the next day, and we agreed to come over around 6 p.m.

Tuesday morning, Steve was busy making my German Chocolate cake, complete with home-made coconut pecan frosting. I got to do another load of laundry since it did not look like rain. Around 3 o'clock Ernst invited us over for a visit to have a glass of wine for my birthday so we joined him aboard Accord and had a very nice visit. Around 5 o'clock we took the cake in to Alex and Christina's so that we could visit for awhile, and Ernst joined us about 30 minutes later. They sent me to the front house because it was my birthday, and I was not allowed to do any work, so I sat and visited with William, Alextine, and Sylvia, who are 5, 3, and 11 respectively. I felt quite honored because Alextine actually took my hand, which is very unusual because she is so shy.

We had just wanted to have the family share some cake with us, but as usual we were invited for dinner. Before dinner, Christina made me close my eyes, and when I opened them, she handed me a home-made shell necklace. But best of all, she had made me palm frond fan. The center is a beautifully polished oyster shell and then the intricately woven fan is woven to the shell. It is so beautiful, and when when she gave it to me, I almost started to cry. I never expected such a lovely and memorable gift. Next, everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me, and I blew out my candles.

We all sat down at the table for dinner, and Alex said a prayer for me for my birthday and followed it with a prayer to bless the food. My next very special treat was "Varo" or Squilla mantis. This is a shellfish that has a head that resembles a praying mantis and a body that looks like a lobster. We had read about them in the Tuamotus but had never had a chance to try one. These were cooked in butter and garlic, and they were absolutely delicious! They have the taste of lobster, but they are not quite as rich. We also had breadfruit salad (just like potato salad), rice, pasta salad, and parrot fish. We also had rolls that were made with flour, water, and baking powder, and then fried in oil. It was very similar to Indian fry bread.

After the meal we all sat around talking, and then it began to rain. And it really rained and the wind blew. All the kids ran to take showers while there was so much water coming down. It has been pretty dry here for the past few months, so the rain was very welcome. Houses here collect rain water by using gutters on the roof to divert the water into large (500 gallon) black plastic holding tanks that stand above ground. We waited for awhile for things to settle down before we left for the boat, which it did around 8 o'clock. Alex gave me his raincoat, and we headed back to the dinghy. Ernst took off in his kayak, and we followed him to make sure that he got back to this boat without a problem, which he did. We returned to our boat and got the engine off and the dinghy hoisted. I was grateful for the raincoat. The good thing was that the rain had done a wonderful job of cleaning off all the salt that had accumulated on the deck.

It was hard not being with family and friends for my birthday this year; however, I must say that I had a wonderful birthday that was quite unique because of where we were and because of the people who were with us to celebrate it. I will certainly always remember this one.

Well, at noon today we moved across the atoll to Te Tautua Village on the eastern side. It is a much smaller village, but the people are just as friendly. Katie Lee moved here last Saturday, so right after we anchored, Larry dropped by to tell us to come to shore. We took the dinghy in, and as soon as we had landed, a couple was calling us over to visit. After them, we met another couple before making it to the home where Larry and Trinda were visiting. We spent the afternoon with them enjoying peach cobbler and visiting with everyone. Soloman is a fisherman, and so Steve has someone else to go fishing with, which made him very happy. We plan to spend several days here before returning to Omoka.

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