Puppies, pearls, and parties!
09 June 2016 | 15 48.19'S:146 09.16'W, Anse Amyot, Toau, Tuamotus
Over our three days in this little cove in a coral atoll, Speakeasy has tied onto three different mooring buoys. Who wouldn't want more practice maneuvering the boat and picking up mooring buoys? I am getting very good at being on the helm! The first two buoys kept us up at night - we were in wind against current situations where the boat would sail around the mooring ball. Now, Speakeasy is sitting comfortably as we wait for a big set of ocean swells to settle down before we head back out to sea.
Laila's sister and brother in law, Valentine and Gaston, have treated us to a second round of Paumotu hospitality. Brightly colored flags and warm greetings brought us into their little kitchen and deck built right over the sea. Soon, a pregnant cat settled in at our feet, and a tubby two-month old puppy was dropped in my lap. Valentine said we were free to take one of the two puppies, or any of her other dogs, to our boat for an hour or so anytime. No way! We haven't "borrowed" a dog yet, but we've both enjoyed the novelty of napping puppies nuzzled into our laps. I'm hoping that Mama cat gives birth while we are here as well, as I'd love to see the newborn kittens.
We've also been offered black pearls. "Take as many as you'd like," Valentine says, as she points to two large bowls filled with the black, grey, silver and blue tinted pearls. Valentine and Gaston used to run a small pearl farm, but " people no longer want them," Valentine says. Certainly, we keep hearing that the Gambier Islands are now the hotbed for black pearls.
Thus, like many families in the coral atolls, Valentine and Gaston turn coconut into copra as part of their living. They also keep many pigs, and chickens run wild around the property. "Do you want one?" Valentine asks. This is the third time a local has offered me a chicken, and I just can't say yes. This family has a breadfruit and a banana tree which appear to struggle in the coral sand, and they're just starting a new garden with rich dark soil that they bought and brought in by boat from the Marquesas Islands.
Valentine and Gaston have been opening their home and property to thirsty and hungry sailors for four months of the year for more than twenty years. We leaf through their many guest books and see names of boats we met in 2006 and in the past two years. We enjoy chilled Hinano beer, along with a delicious homemade fruit beer called komo. Deliciously different appetizers keep appearing on our table - smoked fish, warm coconut bread and shaved coconut in herbed black soy sauce. Every boat in the anchorage makes it in for happy hour because our hosts create a welcoming party atmosphere, with several languages being spoken at each table. And the party keeps going onshore even after we get in our dinghy to call it a night. What fun! And tonight we'll have a new experience - a special lobster dinner. I can't wait!