24 August 2008 | Raiatea
The island of Ra'iatea is not known around the globe like Bora Bora. However, in the 18th century this island was the center of religious beliefs for much of Polynesia and the home of the principal Marae of "Oro", the god of war. Polynesians from New Zealand, The Cook Islands and Hawaii came to pay homage at Taputapuatea where the God Oro was worshipped. Coming to French Polynesia by modern sailboat took some time and I can not say it was always fun and comfortable. So influencing people to come to this island from so far away by canoe demonstrates the great power this religious site possessed.
Before we reached the marae, we drove from the Northwest of the island around to the South side the long way. Once you leave the main town of Uturoa, there aren't that many cars going by. It was a very relaxing drive.
We saw many huts built on the shallow lagoons about 5 seconds by boat away from shore. I wonder if these are island versions of tree houses that kids can play in. There are many rivers on the island and we spotted a water fall from the side of Mt. Aahinui. Many breadfruit (when you cook breadfruit, it is like potatoe), banana, mango and papaya trees were growing along the road.
The most important marae, Taputapuatea was in about 5 acres of land right by the water. There were not just one but a several different marae of different sizes in the park. The small black coral stones were laid on the floor and bigger coral stones with flat surfaces were standing very impressively. It was hard to imagine that this was one of the most sacred place to worship the Polynesian gods. When we were there, there was only one other local couple visiting.
As we drove the islands we saw churches full of Polynesians, not marae. It was Sunday so there were many dressed up people, women with fancy hats singing, most singing inside the churches.