Our Last Night in Polynesia
20 September 2020 | Pension Tiare Nui
William Ennis | SO hot
We visited the boat for an hour this morning, our last of the trip. I performed a few remaining tasks, as did Conni. We departed the Carenage about noon (neither of us favored our usual early morning wakeup!) and then went on a long drive down the East side of the island.
We had noted the Faaroa Bay Garden on our trips around the bay, but it had been closed before. After a multi-year upgrade, it was opened again and was a beautiful place to visit.
Their paths, all nicely planned and executed, followed through several areas of local plants, including a small boat landing on one of the two rivers at the head of the bay. As Conni reminded me, the Faaroa River is the ONLY navigable river in the country! We both wish that there were more informational plaques naming and describing the many local plants we saw, but I suppose that for locals, there would be no need. I've never been a flower aficionado, but the variety and colors of the local flowers have grabbed my imagination. When I see color combinations of locally made clothing, I used to wonder where the got their notions of what colors went together. Not now! They get their taste for riotous colors by looking out the window! Scarlet and yellow Birds of Paradise flowers. Orange and yellow Birds of Paradise flowers. One of my favorites, wild ginger, a startling red. The colors are vivid and very saturated and they're everywhere, so no wonder that's how they want their clothing colored.
We continued South on the belt road that circles the island, and took in the magnificent ruins of Taputapuatea, now a United Nations World Heritage Site. They have done some restoration and have placed some areas off-limits, but otherwise it's still a wonderful and open place to visit. Although the small walking guide given by some masked guards was in Polynesian, we were able to glean that a particular section on the water was the departure point for all of the various voyages to Hawai'i, for example. What might that event might have been like? A double-hulled sailing canoe filled with men and women, food and water, animals and plants, all departing for a future completely unknown. They trusted their navigators, those men trained since childhood to memorize the ocean currents, stars, and other esoteric signs that allowed them to accurately guide these explorers across thousands of miles of ocean. I've done that with modern electronics, and knew for certain that our target island existed, but it's hard for me to imagine the mindset they must have had to simply cast off and hope for the best. Whatever accolades those people have were well deserved, in my opinion.
We also learned that there is actually a marae called Taputapuatea and it's still considered the heart and soul of Polynesian religion throughout the Eastern Pacific. The site has certainly earned its Cultural Site significance.
The heat was just stifling, so we stayed our hour and crawled back into the rental car where a bit of AC and water revived us for the drive home. We enjoyed our last several beers with our meal, a can of cassoulet heated and eaten from a pan, since the bungalow offers no dishes: we've brought from the boat any that we've used, and we returned everything today.
We're packed, we think, and have as much stuff on our return as we had. I've got a blue box full of used Raymarine electronics that we'll give to a friend: chart plotter, radar, depth sounder, the works. We're usually a bit more wistful that we are this time, but we've worked so hard for so many days, that we're somewhat relieved to be heading home.
We have had a great time on the water. We had 4 weeks on the water, visited a pocket lagoon, a first. We visited and enjoyed Bora Bora for 9 day's, a first to spend so much time there. We stayed in Tapuamu Bay on Taha'a, as well as Conni's favorite (and it's growing on me now that it's safer) Haamene Bay. We dined at Taha'a MaiTai and the Hibiscus, two of our very favorite restaurants.
On the working front, we removed a complete set of older electronics, installed a new set with an all-new network. We painted the hull. We re-caulked 4 chain plates. Conni got three coats of varnish on the cap rails. Some things broke that we'll need to replace. We have a lot of ideas on how to do things better, so several items will be purchased to do that. As hard as it's been, it's also been one of our most successful trips: Wings is in much better shape now than when we arrived.
We depart Raiatea at 1000 tomorrow, and don't arrive in Alaska until Tuesday night, so we'll look and feel our very best.