Sunday, July 27, 2008

Te Tautua Village

July 26, 2008--On Wednesday, we left Omoka Village around noon and made our way over to Te Tautua Village on the east side of Penrhyn. The coral heads were easy to see, and we made it in about an hour and a half. This side is different in that there is a sandy bottom in which you can anchor in about 13 feet of water. We couldn't see the bottom at all on the other side, and there were coral heads to snag the anchor. The other difference is that there are a lot more sharks on this side. They are mainly black-tip and nurse sharks, which are harmless, but they swim around the boat all the time. The locals believe that the sharks are the spirits of their ancestors, and one local told Steve that if you haven't done anything wrong, then you don't have anything to fear.

We anchored the boat, and Larry from sv Katie Lee stopped by to give us some information about the village. They had come over the Saturday before. We got the boat put away and then headed in to shore. As soon as we tied up our dinghy, two children around 8 years old came over to say that we should come see their mom. Her name was Samwa and a man sitting with her was named Toma. We sat down and visited while Samwa stripped palm fronds to make a hat. After awhile we moved on down the road where we met Rio and his wife Koora. We stayed to visit with them for about 30 minutes, and Koora wove a hat while we were talking.

The next house was Banapa and Repa's home. We had met them at Alex's house our first day at Omoka. Their son Soloman and his wife Lata were there. Their daughter Emily, and another younger woman were there as well. We were offered some lime juice--made from fresh limes--and chairs to sit on. We all got to know one another better while the three women worked on their weaving. The women send their hats to Raratonga to be sold for around $150 each. It sounds like a lot, but when you see how much time and work goes into one hat, it is pretty reasonable. Larry and Tindra were baking peach cobbler, so we enjoyed dessert in the afternoon. There were several small children playing in the area, and it was just a relaxing and interesting afternoon. We stayed until about 5:30, and then we headed back to the boat to take showers and cook dinner. It was a good day.

On Thursday morning I was doing laundry when we had a visit from a woman named Aroha. Back in 1978 a book of cruisers was set up, and her father had kept it until he passed away. Cruisers who came here recorded information about themselves and their boats, and many included pictures or drawings, so she left the book for us. It was very interesting to read all the entries, and when we were done, we added our own, which included some pictures.

Ernst arrived around 1:30 from Omaka, and then we went in to town around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We made our usual stops at the houses to say hello and chat for a few minutes. After Emily's house, we walked toward the end of the island and then over to the ocean side to look for shells--as usual. The beaches on that side have basically eroded away, but we still enjoyed walking along the shore and wading in the tidal pool.

We returned to Emily's house where Steve visited with Soloman, who is a fisherman, and I visited with the ladies. One young woman had a three-month-old baby whose name is Mary. She is so adorable and such a good baby that she let me hold her for about an hour. It was a very hot day, especially after our walk, so we went back to the boat to swim and cool off. As we left, Soloman gave us a large piece of delicious Wahoo for dinner.

Swimming is not exactly the word I would use to describe what I was doing. I was barely in the water and holding onto the ladder the whole time. Steve kept telling me, "If you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear." That didn't make it any easier being in the water with sharks close by. He dove in and swam around, but I noticed that he did not stay in too long himself.

Friday we stayed on the boat all day long. Steve was trying to finish a book on Magellan because he had promised it to Aroha's son-in-law, and we were leaving in just a few days. I did another load of laundry. I wanted to be sure to have it all done by the time we leave. Anyway, it was an enjoyable low-key day.

Today we went to town about 10 o'clock to take Aroha a towel that she had asked for. We found her house, and she introduced us to her husband. They were very kind to us and gave us two shell necklaces. They also gave us something to keep the flies away. They look like a broom made out of palm fronds except they are shorter and smaller; however, they work very well. When we were done, we returned to Emily's house. The women were working on hats as usual. Emily told me that next year the Pacific Games were going to be held in Raratonga, and there would be many tourists. That meant that they should be able to sell their hats for more than usual, so I think they are all working hard to build up an inventory to send there when the time comes. We had a heavy rain shower come through while we were there, which was good because the boat would finally get a good washing. Several people gave us cucumbers and tomatoes. Soloman took Steve to get some coconuts, and he cut one open for Steve to drink. Finally, we were invited to have lunch with the family after church tomorrow. As we left, Soloman gave us some cooked Wahoo for lunch. It was another enjoyable day on Penrhyn.

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