We are anchored in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The hills are covered with coconut palms, banana, papaya, and mango trees, and other lush vegetation. The water, which is totally glassy because there is not a breath of wind, ranges from a deep clear blue to bright turquoise in the shallows. The bottom is mostly sandy with coral heads scattered here and there.
This morning we celebrated our 6 month milestone by cleaning the hull of the boat (yeah!). After the hull was sufficiently cleaned I practiced my free diving by pulling myself hand over hand down the anchor chain. I bet I got down about 25 feet, not quite to the bottom, but close! I have not really swam since the Tuamotus, and it feels grrreat to be in the water again.
After lunch I got this restless, pulling feeling that I get when I know there might be a surfable wave nearby. Yesterday I checked out a wave at the pass just to the south of us, and it looked rideable, although nobody was out. I figured I couldn't rightfully ignore it again today, so I talked Dad into going with me to check it out.
We set out in the dinghy and planed at full speed over the sheet-glass water. When we hit the light turquoise water it looked like we were in about 6 inches of water, although it was more like 4 feet deep. The bottom was crystal clear and we watched huge bat rays dart away under water as we sped by. We had to navigate very carefully through the coral heads, some of which stick up to a few inches under the water and are no fun to hit. We managed to make it to the pass without hitting any coral, and came across a very nice looking right (wave) breaking from the point of the reef into the pass. I saw one guy surfing and that was enough for me: back to the boat! I gotta grab my board!
Going back to the boat was a little slower because the tide was going out and the shallow lagoon was getting even more shallow. Back over the coral heads, back over the rays to the boat where I ran around like a whirlwind getting my stuff to go surfing. If you have ever gone surfing with me you know that when I am on my way to surf I get tunnel vision and will run over old ladies and little babies to get in the water.
Fortunately there weren't too many obstructions, except for a few more coral heads on the way back to the pass, and soon enough I was out of the dinghy and into the crystal clear, 80 degree water, surfing nice lined up waves over a coral reef. Yes, this is what I came here for. Granted, the waves were not as good as some of the waves that I have surfed in my own backyard, but the fact that I found this place, sailed here on a boat, and fulfilled a dream, is too fucking cool.
Okay, sorry, sometimes it just... takes me away. Anyway, yes, very cool. On the way back to the boat I navigated through the coral heads while drinking a cold Hinano as the sun set. We also saw a shark (first one I have seen in the Society Islands) and I saw it as a good omen because sharks are a sign of a live reef (Live reef = fish = sharks).
Well, that is one adventure, but let me tell you about yesterday - yes, more adventure!. Yesterday we rented bikes from the dive shop on shore. As we set out down the nicely paved, flat road lined with fruit trees, I couldn't be happier. Except for the fact that my bike was stuck in first gear, which is no bueno for the riding we were doing. First we came across the pass/wave that I surfed today, which is also a ancient, sacred, archeological site. We rode and rode, and although I did not have a map or a good idea of how big the island is, I had it in my mind that I wanted to ride around it.
Mom and Dad weren't opposed to the idea, but soon enough we were all thinking, "who the hell had the stupid idea of circumnavigating the island on these shitty little bikes?!" Not to say that it wasn't cool. On the windward side of the island we saw huge rain squalls over the ocean (which are very fun to see from land, not so fun to see when on a boat); on the north side of the island we rode along the pass in between the 2 islands (Huahine is made of 2 islands surrounded by a reef); on the east side we went up a huge mountain, and nearly collapsed with exhaustion by the time we got back to the south end of the island.
When we got back to the dive shop we stumbled into the restaurant and ordered the "Killer" sandwich - grilled fish, french fries, and coconut vanilla sauce on a baugette, with a cold fruit juice to go with it. We calculated that the bike ride was about 14 miles, which isn't so bad if you have a nice bike, but if your bike is stuck in first gear or the chain keeps popping off or you have been sitting on a boat for the past 6 months, yes, it is a most hearty adventure.
Six months. It seems like it has been both the fastest and slowest six months of my life; the most interesting and exciting, as well as containing some of the most boring and exasperating times of my life. I just can't wait to see what the next 6 months bring.
At 6/16/2011 12:31 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°48.72'S 150°59.57'W
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