The cocktail party was good fun, particularly because it marked the convergence of about 50 cruising boats, many of whom we had met in Mexico or along the way. Everybody was in good spirits, not only because of the Polynesian punch, but also because this rendezvous marks an important milestone for all of us who crossed the Pacific together. There was music, dancing, lei making, and a dinner down at the Roulottes (my favorite dining experience in Tahiti).
The next day was the rally (not a race, cruisers don't "race") from Tahiti to Moorea. We all tried to sail, but there was absolutely no wind, so the majority of us kicked on our engines and got to Moorea quickly (a few hours) while a diehard few sailed the whole way. I cheered them on when they came in while I was relaxing with a cold beer. The anchorage at Opounohou Bay was packed with the cruising fleet, but it was fun. I paddled around from boat to boat in water that looked like a swimming pool, chatting and enjoying beers, remembering what it is like to have a nice community of friends.
After a dance show on the beach (in which I myself participated- albeit unwillingly), I went to Sundowner for dinner and met a bunch of other nice people. My group of new best friends formed quickly- Adam and I made friends with two other young people who flew here and were visiting their families (cheaters). One of them is a banana slug (UCSC student) so we had lots to talk about. The four of us did all activities together, including consuming copious amounts of beer and rum from early in the morning until late into the night. I had almost forgotten what it was like to hang out with people my own age!
The next day, Sunday, was the big day of the event. There were va'a (traditional canoe) races, swimming races, stone lifting and fruit carrying contests, dance lessons, live music, a traditional Polynesian meal, and all sorts of other fun things to do. Although my team did not do particularly well in the competitions we had a great time, as did everybody who participated. It was fun to be immersed in the games of Polynesian culture for an afternoon without having to wrangle an invitation from a local with whom communication is difficult (although quite possible). Plus, we North Americans are much better off competing against each other, as we are absolutely no match for the Tahitians.
The cruising community is incredibly friendly and welcoming. I have made more friends with "boat neighbors" in 15 minutes than I have with my real neighbors in 15 years. I think this is because we are all in foreign places and feel the need to bond together in order to survive -- or at least have somebody to share a drink with come sunset. It really is quite something. However, the down side of meeting all these wonderful people is that there is a good chance I won't see most of them ever again. Many of us have similar destinations, New Zealand or Australia for cyclone season, but the South Pacific is HUGE and it is easy to miss one another. No worries though. As the saying goes, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Or, more accurately: better to have kicked it and had some fun and then said goodbye forever than to never have kicked it at all.
At 6/29/2011 12:00 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 17°29.51'S 149°51.17'W
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