After our warm reception on the atol we prepare to set sail. We want to stop as briefly as possibly but it is practicly impossible to leave. The weather is great, the lagoon gorgeous and the people are very warm. We get a lesson in human warmth and experience what reall hospitality means.
Visiting the homes of the people
A number of boats arrives and the owner of a local pearl farm invites us all for oyster eating and pearl hunting. We take fresh fruit for him and he invites us both after the evening mas. We never go to church so two masses in a week is a bit steep. Nonetheless we agree and during the service all families and ourselves are blessed one by one in front of the altar. After that we enjoy a simple meal at home of the people.
Barbeque in between the palmtrees
The pearlfarmer asks us out for a barbeque under the palmtrees with his family. We are busy with the boat but he understands and agrees to pick us up at 11:00 and promises to bring us back 13:30. We have our doubts as we are familiar with island time but it is an offer we cannot refuse. When we arrive after a short trip, the food is prepared, the fish is put on the barbeque and we drink from fresh coconuts. It is delicious and exactly at 13:30 the good man drops us back off. His wife and him give us necklesses made of shells and fresh dinner for the sailing trip.
Cocktails from the priest
The local electrician (Make) and his wife open up their hous for us. When they are working we can use the internet at their place. What bliss! Make also organises a goodbye dinner in his beachhouse with some friends. We barbeque and he lights up a big bonfire on the beach. Evertything has been prepared and is perfectly organised. We dance on the beach and enjoy but the surprise of the evening is the priest from yesterday’s mass. All night he makes and serves delicious cocktails to the ladies!
Nuclear tests in paradise
After a gorgeous meal Make wants me to drive us back to the pier in his luxureous SUV. I decline but he insists; “ you are a fine driver, also with some beers under your belt”. We talk for an houre or so and I feel ashamed when he tells about his grandfather which is in hospital with thyroid cancer. “We tolerate the French but we don’t like them. We where naive and agreed to nuclear testing as they where said to be safe. Now we suffer the consequences; 193 tests they did here! And worse; they close our borders for friends which we like to welcome.” What a strange world we live in I think to myself. The sweetest people ever, the most gorgeous place on earth and just that spot was chosen for testing hundreds of weapons of mass destructio untill 1996!
Damage in storm.
The next day we set sail and 150 miles further we get hit by a passing low. The wind increases to more than 35 knots. The main tears, some stuff goes overboard and two solar panels break on the winches. Later we hear that a old sailor I interviewed a week earlier got in trouble close to our position. His yacht got damaged and got smashed on the reefs of Tahiti. We are reminded how important it is to stay sharp at sea, also in the trade wind areas. But is part of this life. The ups and downs make this life so special and we are increadibly gratefull for the uniue experiences we carry with us.
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Hope is proudly saling with a Carl Stahl Yachting rig
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