Yesterday after we anchored behind a motu at the head of the pass in perfectly calm, clear water. I could see my new favorite wave breaking in the distance through the palm trees, and decided to go check it out before friends on other boats showed up to surf it... I couldn't wait. After checking it from the dinghy I decided it looked good, but suuper shallow so I decided to wear my 5 millimeter surf booties (for the cold waters of Santa Cruz) for foot protection.
After anchoring the dinghy right outside the surf I jumped in the water and paddled out. I caught a few waves that catapulted me down the line, popping out into the shallows, but where I could still paddle back out. Then the wave came that I decided I couldn't make, as I was dropping in, so I bailed and fell flat on my back in the water. Of course, the wave was not done with me so it dragged me across the reef, bumping me into all sorts of coral and rocks. I tried to break myself with my feet, feeling the rubber on the soles of my booties shredding on the sharp coral. When the wave let me go, I found myself in six inches of water, surrounded by coral. Miraculously, I only got a few coral kisses on my shin. I could be covered in reef rash right now (and so thankful I am not) - a huge thanks to my booties. After that I was more careful with my wave selection.
In the afternoon, our buddy boat Songline showed up, and Fred, who just bought a surfboard, wanted to surf. I made it very clear that this is NOT a beginner break, but he was still game to go out. We paddled out again and the waves were nice; he got washed up on the reef a few times but made it out relatively unscathed. Last night I fell asleep thinking about the waves I caught - the thrill of looking down from the peak at the coral reef below and the brilliant blue of the face of the wave down the line as I dropped in.
It didn't take long for me to get back in the water this morning. This time I had two friends with me - Fred and Fleur, both of whom have surfed maybe 5 times in their lives. I was a bit hesitant to take them out, but I have not had any surf buddies to surf with in so long, and there was nobody else out. They were also excited to go, so I just told them to be careful, avoid the reef. Haha.
The waves were beautiful, again. I won't rant about them anymore, but... the waves were as close to any in surf films that I have ever surfed myself. As were the surroundings. At one point, we saw a shark cruising around in the water, so Fleur, naturally paddled right over to it, I kept surfing, and Fred paddled the opposite direction. Just a harmless reef shark.
Moving on from surfing, this afternoon we took the dinghies up a river at the end of one of the bays. The banks of the river were covered with giant stalks of bananas, wild ginger, papaya trees, coconut palms, and lots of other green stuff. At the end of the river we met James, a local who volunteered to give us a tour of his plantation. He showed us many different edible plants and flowers, saying, "this not good for me this good for you in the morning of the polynesia it very smart in the morning. Is it good for you?" Oh yes, it was very good for us, although he was a bit hard to understand.
James climbed coconut palms and threw down the nuts - we drank from young coconuts and feasted on coconut meat. He cut us a huge stalk of bananas. This stalk must have 200 bananas on it. Hard to believe, I know, but I will try to post a picture. I'm not exaggerating. He showed us many more places and plants, and just as he was going to show us his marijuana plantation we had to get back to the boat because it was getting dark. Maybe next time.
We have T-9 (legal) days left in French Polynesia and I feel like we have only scratched the surface of the potential of this place in three months. So many more waves to be surfed, people to meet, passes to snorkel and plantations to visit!
At 7/1/2011 10:13 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°47.79'S 151°22.95'W
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