Mopelia, day four, Mopelia Beer
21 October 2020
Russ Whitford | better than where you are.
Mopelia, Day 4, September 22
Slept well last night, weather settled. Spent all morning with Chris and Magali visiting Uproar. Chris and Magali are cruisers from Le Pukeko, French for Kiwi. They have two girls Anuk and Alize, 14 and 15 with them. Their plan is to sail soon to New Zealand. Chris is a Kiwi so will be allowed entrance with his family. Magali is French Canadian and they lived in Brittany where Chris worked building high performance racing boats.
I enjoyed talking with Chris about his boatbuilding career as well as his participation in Mini-Transat racing. Mini-Transat boats are 21 foot single handers that race long distance ocean races. Chris came in second in the prototype division (custom boat he built himself) in the 90's. That's some serious racing!
Magali and Lisa also talked for hours about...most everything. We plan to visit them tomorrow afternoon with 2K to play some games. Their daughters didn't visit as they were working on schoolwork.
Lisa suggested we take a dinghy ride south where there are some more homesteads. Our dinghy, Houdinky, is our little sport boat. It is quite fun to go skimming over shallow, turquoise water. About three miles down the coast, we saw a homestead with a boat on the beach and some small buildings. A lady on shore waved us in to visit. We did.
Rava and Terai welcomed us ashore. Lisa and I were shown to a small table where another lady, Hina, sat. I'm pretty sure she couldn't stand up, she was pretty drunk!
They were all drinking Mopelia beer and soon we were too. Mopelia beer is not from a bottle. They make with rain water, sugar and yeast. That's all. We had a taste of it at Norma and Harry's, aged three months. Reva was drinking some that was only aged three days. The beer has a little zing and definite sweetness. It packs a punch, probably 14% alcohol. Mana arrived on his bicycle with hugs all around. He heard we were in the atoll. I told him we were quite sure the Coconut Vini was working well. Vini is the cell phone carrier in the rest of FP (none in Mopelia). They laughed and said agreed, word gets around this small community.
We had the usual conversations (in French) about where we sailed from, how long we would be in Mopelia, children, mutual people we knew, etc. It was a very pleasant time with these gentle people. We joked about our stumbling French and they about their English (Reva was the only one with some English). They gave us coconuts to drink and kept filling our beer glass, over my half-heart-ed protests. They showed us fish they were grilling for dinner. On Mopelia, they more smoke than grill fish. There is a special wood they use for a sweet, smoky flavor. They offered us some fish but we told them we had chicken to grill for dinner. In spite of our protest, a large plate of fish appeared in front of us, wrapped in plastic wrap. Then a bag of fresh ginger roots appeared. We were offered some lobsters but declined for now. Next time we will take some!
We departed with promises that we will sail south and join them for a meal soon. We told them we were going to share the fish with the other cruisers. There was one cruising boat we hadn't met yet. Anchored in the south bay was a 31 foot French boat. We dinghied over to them before heading back north to Uproar. Pascal (French) and his wife, Anise (Chilean) were delighted to receive the fish. We didn't visit for long but look forward to spending more time with them. They will probably sail north to our anchorage tomorrow, hearing about all the fun we are having.
More fish was delivered to 2K and Le Pukeko. We still had some to eat with our grilled chicken. The flavor of the smoked fish brought me back to Port Washington, WI where we savor the smoked trout from Ewig Brothers Fishery.
We sure enjoyed our boisterous visit but are a bit saddened seeing local people dead drunk in the middle of the afternoon. Chris told us the alcohol from their local beer is particularly damaging to the brain. We have now met 11 of the 20 residents on Mopelia. We look forward to meeting the rest.
Dinner tasted especially fine on Uproar. It was a peaceful evening. We spent most of the day just talking with people. But Lisa, struggling with French, said it was exhausting. We let others do the talking by watching three episodes of "The Crown" before bed.