Andre the wild boar slayer
09 August 2020 | Faa Roa, Raiatea
Russ Whitford | amazing
“It's about the people we meet...” Jeff and Terry McClellan did a video of Lisa and me when they visited in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Terry asked about some highlights of our first year cruising.
We continue to treasure the chance meetings with amazing people everywhere. I spent some time alone on Uproar and a few weeks with Jim Leguizamon while Lisa was back in the US visiting family. Several times Jim and I dinghied up the river at the foot of Faa Roa (Polynesian for big bay). It's an interesting jungle river with a few homes along the way. James is the unofficial tour guide. The first time in the river, James paddled up to us in his plastic kayak and gave us a running commentary as we putted along. James is a simple guy and not at all the pushy tour guides who sometimes latch onto cruisers for an expected fee. He told Jim and me to visit his brother, Andre's farm, further up the river.
We found Andre working hard on his patch of paradise. Andre eagerly showed us around and filled our bag with fruits and vegetables. He lives in the adjacent mountain and runs up and down every day. Andre also competes in local marathons. He told us once he ran down a wild boar and killed it with his machete. I asked if he had “dent de cochon savage” wild boar teeth. He replied, oui, but the one he killed had only one tooth, the other one was broken. I asked if he would part with it. He said it is a great honor to give someone a wild boar's tooth. In return, I had pay him the great honor of $10!
The next day, Jim and I returned with some fellow cruisers. Andre had not only the boar's tooth but handed me the entire lower jaw. Gross! But I got my prized tooth after hacksawing the jaw apart.
Andre is one of the most enthusiastic people we have met. He speaks very little English but his running commentary in French and animated gestures are easy to understand. He tells stories about the mountains, one being the profile of a woman and one a man and how they marry to form the fertile valley. He expertly plucks fruit from his laden trees and generously fills our bags. With Jim and our cruising friends, Andre insisted we take a 40 pound banana bunch! Good thing we had three boats to share.
Yesterday, Lisa had her first visit to Andre's farm. Andre was busy with a weed whacker but quickly shut it down and spent an hour with us. He shared everything growing and even gave us some fruit from his own backpack. Several times he threw his hands back, looked up and exclaimed, “Paradise!” It is a paradise and this happy man has very little but lacks for nothing. His sharing is not just his farm's bounty but the Polynesian Spirit we love.