This is a view from the hiking trail on Motukawanui Island in the Cavalli Island group, looking north. The wreck of the Rainbow Warrior is located just to left of this beautiful group of outer islands. Following our hike we joined our friends on s/v Visions of Johanna and s/v Kastaway and anchored in the lee of the islands.
A little bit of history for you today.....
One fine morning in Auckland Harbour in July, 1985, there was an explosion on a ship and it sank, killing a man. The boat was the Greenpeace flagship, "Rainbow Warrior". It was in New Zealand preparing to sail for Moruroa Atoll near Tahiti to protest against French nuclear testing.
Two French foreign intelligence agents were arrested and charged with detonating 2 mines on the boat. The first mine was designed to cause the crew to evacuate and the second to sink her. Unfortunately Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was drowned below deck following the second explosion.
France eventually paid New Zealand $13 million and apologized in return for the agents being delivered into French custody on a South Pacific atoll. France also paid over $8 million to Greenpeace. French nuclear testing finally ceased for good on Moruroa in 1996.
The wreck of the "Rainbow Warrior" was resunk near the Cavalli Islands on the NE coast of NZ where it can be explored by divers. This past week we were anchored in the Cavalli Islands. We didn't dive the "Rainbow Warrior" but we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular scenery the area offered.
Thank you to Lonely Planet for the information on this story. It's hard to believe such an atrocity could have occurred in peaceful New Zealand.
The view looking eastward from the top of the Duke's Nose towards the narrow entrance into Whangaroa Harbour.
I coax my legs to work harder. One hand is firmly holding onto a chain, attached to a rock wall. I look up. I feel my chest tighten. It's so steep! Not far to go. I think I can do it. I take a deep breath and another big step up.
We're climbing up Duke's Nose, a steep hike with a rock face at the end. The reward for mastering the climb up the rock face is the view from the top. It's a gorgeous sunny day so the view should be outstanding.
Norm and I are anchored on Sarah Jean II in Whangaroa Harbour, north of the Bay of Islands on NZ's east coast. Whangaroa is a beautiful harbor, well protected with dramatic cliffs at the entrance and green, green water. Beside us in Rere Bay is S/V Visions of Johanna, friends of Paikea Mist, from Maine, USA. Bill and Johanna are hiking Duke's Nose with us and Bill is at the top of the rock face now. He's calling encouraging words to Johanna and me as we struggle to find a foothold.
I think happy thoughts and try to breathe deeply, remembering my yoga practice. I have to pinch myself to believe I'm really sailing NZ's coastline on Sarah Jean. The weather is warm with brilliant sunshine. It's summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. After exploring Whangaroa we'll head south to the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. Many cruisers and Kiwis have told us, "You must see Great Barrier Island", and so we will.
I've done it! I've climbed the rock face to the top of Duke's Nose. Not bad for an old gal. You see, it's my birthday today so my sense of accomplishment is even greater. There's still some life left in me.
I look up and around and the view from the top is stunning. Boats anchored in the protected harbors look like tiny specks. Fishing boats are heading out to sea, hoping to catch the big one. A sailboat enters the pass from the open ocean to the safe haven of the delightful Whangaroa Harbor, no doubt happy to be here, just like me!
Girl at Doi Shuthep Temple in Chiang Mai.
It's early morning in Chiang Mai. As I sip my latte, I watch The Old Town come alive. Tuk tuks and scooters fly by and young backpackers climb into minivans for their chosen activities for the day. There is trekking in the mountains, getting close up and personal with tigers at the Tiger Kingdom, elephant riding, and zip trekking.
I chose considerably less adventurous activities but they are still thrilling for me. Amanda and I biked to an Ashtanga yoga class, followed by a Thai cooking class. I held a perfect tree pose and made my own Panang curry paste and Pad Thai from scratch. I was more than thrilled!
The Thai massage we had later in the day was more like torture than it was relaxing. The small Thai women are very strong and pummel, stretch and twist your body in more positions you would think possible. I think it must have been good for me in some strange way?
Documentary Arts Asia, where Amanda is volunteering, showed a film one evening, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", a moving story about a very dedicated sushi chef in Japan. It was an inspiring documentary video and the editing was outstanding. Amanda and I both enjoyed it as well as meeting several interesting expats who are living here in Chiang Mai.
My week in Chiang Mai has been culturally rich and physically invigorating with daily biking and yoga. It has also been very emotionally satisfying for me. I've spent a special time with my daughter, chatting over lattes by day and wine by night. I love watching her smile, hearing her infectious laugh, watching her work at the gallery and listening to her hopes and dreams.
Amanda is a wonderfully free spirit, a gifted artist and photographer and a warm and giving person. She is choosing her own path that right now includes gratifying volunteer work in documentary photography and travel in Thailand. The future for her is full of limitless opportunities.
I have loved my week with Amanda in Chiang Mai and feel so very fortunate to have her as my daughter and my friend.
People have told me they think I'm adventurous because I have crossed oceans. Well today, I felt courageous and daring and I was nowhere near the sea. I was bicycling through the streets of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand with my daughter Amanda.
Amanda has been living in Chiang Mai, volunteering at an art gallery specializing in documentary photography. I've been missing her so I hopped on a flight from Auckland to Bangkok and then to Chiang Mai and just like that, there I was, bicycling with her. Life is good.
As I peddled along, I kept Amanda in sight at all times. She was my leader and tour guide. A tuk tuk passed me on the right and a family of three on a scooter was quickly approaching. At the intersection there were no stop signs or street lights. It was a free for all. Amanda confidently chose her moment and maneuvered her way across the street. I held back with one foot firmly planted on the ground, looking left, then right, then left again. It didn't help of course that vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road here. Figuring out which way to look for oncoming traffic is always a problem for me in foreign lands.
I was proud of myself that I made it back to our guesthouse in one piece, having stopped with Amanda to admire and photograph 2 or 3 temples along the way. I didn't cross an ocean today, but in my mind I had accomplished a task much more arduous...bicycling through the very busy Old Town of Chiang Mai. I won't even attempt to drive a scooter here. I'll leave that in the hands of the very capable local Thai people, and I'll stick to crossing oceans.
To the delight of all the good little girls and boys of Mayne Island, Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a surpise visit to the island. Leaving the sleigh and reindeer at the North Pole they arrived by boat at the dock at Village Bay where Santa kept busy making note of all the toy requests.
Hoping Santa finds you wherever you are in the world!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
Beth & Norm
Each island and each village has a unique form of traditional dancing, also known as kastom dancing. In this remote village on Ambryn Island the dancers wear head to foot costumes that include these colorful bearded masks made from dried banana leaves topped with feathers!
See the Photo Gallery for lots more interesting pics of Vanuatu.