Adventures

I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Go Samoa


Manu Samoa rugby game.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I am feeling quite melancholy about leaving Samoa tomorrow. To be completely honest it is not Samoa that I have become so attached to, but the group of friends I have made here. Granted, they are on boats so there is a good chance that I will run into them somewhere down the line, but it is always hard to leave.


I have not had a group of friends that I could go out to the bars and shoot pool with, or just kick it with, in a long time. And I have missed it. I am in no way writing off the friends that I have made along the way - in fact I am excited to get to Tonga because I have friends arriving there who I have not seen since Mexico. It will be fun to rendezvous. But like I said before, leaving always sucks (unless we are in some really lame place, which is not often).


Ok, enough whining. Let's see: on Saturday a bunch of us went to the Manu Samoa vs. Australia Western Force rugby game. It was great! Of course I had absolutely no idea what was going on but fortunately Sean (my Saffa boy) explained the game to me play by play. I like it better than football in that there are very few pauses, which keeps the game moving fast. We cheered Manu Samoa, who killed the Aussies, drank lots of beer, and had a good time. After the game we all (my parents included!) went to our favorite bar to drink more beer and shoot pool. I think that night I passed out before 11 PM, way earlier than the 2 or 3 AM that I have been staying up until for the past week. Like I said before, those South Africans can party.


Speaking of parties, (I know I know, that's all we do around here) the Teuila Festival is happening this week in Apia. There are singing and dancing competitions, fire shows, and typical cultural events. I must say that it pales in comparison to the French Polynesia Heiva festival, but it is cool nonetheless. There are lots of traditional food stalls set up, but of course Lars and I ate hotdogs the first chance we got. Gimme a break, I have not eaten a hotdog since the 4th of July, and I have eaten plenty of taro and turkey tail to last me a lifetime.


Yesterday Mom and Dad did the last provisioning to stock up on food before we leave for Tonga. Apparently there are very few supplies in Tonga, so we got lots of fresh food, meats, cheeses, and good snacks. We are going to be very popular with our friends who have been in Tonga for a while and are living on beans and rice. I wonder what the beer situation is like in Tonga?? It is probably expensive and hard to find. Shit. Maybe we should go get another case.


Whereas I am melancholy about leaving, I am excited to see what the next port brings. You never know what is going to be around the next corner. And so I say goodbye. I hope we meet again, somewhere on down the road.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Drinks and Dancing

A few nights ago a guy on another boat asked me, "What is the most stunning thing you have seen in (Western) Samoa this far?" I had to think about it. The snorkeling is nice, but nothing compared to the Tuamotus. The hiking is cool, but much more dramatic in the Marquesas and even American Samoa. The locals are nice, the food is good and cheap, and there are a few unique tourist attractions that are worthwhile. But stunning? I was stumped.


This is not to say that I am not having a good time - I most definitely am. This could be due in part to the fact that I made friends with the crew of the 100 foot luxury motor sailor at the end of the dock. The two brothers from South Africa and the chef from Los Angeles are holding down the fort while the owner of the boat is back in the States, that is to say, partying hard every night. Let me tell you, those Saffas are a hearty bunch. I don't even try to keep up with them, but stay well entertained with their ridiculous stories and funny accents (I am a sucker for funny accents).


For my transition sentence I was going to write, "Fortunately not all of my recent adventures have involved liver damage..." or something like that, but then I realized that the tour of the Vailima brewery we took yesterday and the dance show we saw on Wednesday night both involved drinking.


The tour of the brewery of Vailima "Samoa's very own beer!" (TM), was quite cool. (Not to be confused with Robert Louis Stevenson's plantation of the same name.) Of course we all showed up wearing sandals, but were required to wear real shoes, so the management provided all 7 of us with work boots, neon reflector vests, and ear plugs. The tour was led by one of the microbiologists who explained the fermentation process as well as all the steps the beer goes through before it ends in my glass. Most impressive. The tour ended with us receiving a glass of the beer that was brewed today. It was probably the freshest beer I have ever had.


There is one funny quirk about Vailima beer. Their "export lager", which is delicious, has an alcohol content of 6.7% and can only be found in American Samoa and New Zealand (I think). However, they only sell a watered down version with 4.9% alcohol content - which is still good but not as good - here in Samoa. It is illegal to sell beer with any higher alcohol content here. Fortunately we stocked up with a bunch of cases before we left Pago Pago.


While Samoans don't hold their alcohol very well, they dance very well. All of them. Every time we go past a school there are kids outside learning dances or singing songs. In their culture it is cool to do the traditional dances and sing the traditional songs. Fire dancing is popular here and every Tuesday night the ice cream shop up the street, which only sells beer and ice cream, has a traditional fire dancing show. My favorite were the little boys who were about 8 years old, spinning batons on fire that were nearly as tall as them. The older guys were a bit more skilled, throwing their batons back and forth, catching them behind their backs, and sitting on the fires to put them out (yikes!).


The Samoan dancing is different from that in French Polynesia. As my friend Noel put it, "it seems like the men are on speed and the women are on valium." The men do not stop running in place, jumping up and down, beating their chests and whooping. The women's dancing, on the other hand, is very sedated with slow, graceful movements. Needless to say, the men are much more fun to watch, but they are all spectacular to hear. Their voices harmonize beautifully and can fill a huge room without any microphones. If you are ever in Samoa it is worth it to go to a dance show - or you can go to church to hear the same amazing singing. And ask for forgiveness for drinking too much Vailima the night before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The "Real" Samoa

The grounds at Villa Vailima

Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, is quite a place. The locals here are very friendly - perhaps too friendly. We are staying at a marina here in Apia (the first since Mexico!) and every time I walk up to the bathroom it is like running the gauntlet past the security guards and construction workers. "Talofa!", "Good Morning!", "Hey Baby!", "Hello! Where are you from?" "Hey, Where are you going?" Well, I have a roll of toilet paper in my hand so where do you think I am going? They don't mean any harm, but sometimes I would like to walk down the street without explaining every few meters that yes, I am American and no, I am not married.


Really, Samoa is quite cool - at least what I have seen so far. The marina here in Apia is far nicer than I expected it to be. There are real docks as opposed to a quay, and fresh water hoses (which means that we scrubbed the boat). There are bathrooms and showers at the head of the dock, although they are mosquito infested and the water in the showers is cold (no big loss). So yes, in spite of the bugs, I have been showering every night!


Part of the reason I have been showering with such frequency is the fact that it is hella hecka hot here. The temperature inside the cabin has hit 90 every afternoon, and drops off to the low 80's at night. It is very humid as well, which makes for hot and sticky afternoons. Fortunately there is a nice beach outside the bay where, for the bargain price of 4 tala (about $1.80 US) you can go swimming and snorkeling. The water is about 85 degrees, the reef is somewhat alive, there are lots of fish, and the water visibility is a mediocre 25 feet. Can't complain (too much) about that.


Now there is supposed to be some epic surf on the south side of the island. Of course we are on the north side of the island, so it takes some planning to get over to the other side on a day where the swell is good but not huge, the wind is calm, and the tide is high. Easier said than done. There are many surf tours offered here so on Saturday I called Manoa Surf Tours, and asked them what they though. They told me to call back on Sunday morning and they would tell me if the waves were good or not.


I called them Sunday morning - no easy feat considering we do not have a phone - and the guy said the surf was good and I should rent a car and drive over to Coconut Beach, about a 40 minute drive away, by 10 AM. Mom and I ran over to the rental car place across the street to see if they were even open (Sunday), which they were. We ran back to the boat to pull Dad away from scrubbing the decks. At this point it was about 9 AM and I wanted to make sure the guys would wait for me to arrive before they went to surf, so I dashed up to the security booth to beg the guard to let me use his phone again. When I called Manoa Surf tours back, the asshole said, "No, we won't wait for you, you had plenty of time to get over here when you called me this morning."


Excuse me? Yes, I was just sitting around waiting for my car and driver with directions right to your doorstep to arrive. I understand that he had other customers waiting to surf, but he didn't need to be a total dick about it. There are 2 morals to this story: first is that everything is a bit harder in a foreign country, and even more so when you live on a boat. The other moral of the story is that Manoa Surf tours is run by a jerk and I would not recommend patronizing his business. (HA, take that!)


Ok, enough of that. Mom, Dad and I decided not to rent a car at all that day because most things are closed on Sundays. We were going to rent a car to tour the island today, but instead we decided to take a bus up to Vailima, the plantation of the Robert Louis Stevenson clan. I was pretty excited about going there because I read "Home From the Sea", written about the last two years of his life there. For those of you who don't know, Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) wrote the books "Treasure Island" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" to name a few. He was tubercular and moved to Samoa for his health, but died a few years later at 44.


Villa Vailima


Stevenson's house is pretty cool, a sprawling, European mansion-looking thing, but the coolest part of the visit was hiking up Mt. Vaea to his grave. It was a solid hike through muddy jungle filled with mosquitos, geckos, and brightly colored birds. I couldn't imagine making the trail, first of all, and then carrying a dead body up it. But Stevenson was very popular with the "natives" and they treated him like royalty, giving him a chief's burial.


After our tour and hike we headed back down to Apia, where we cruised around the market. The market is pretty... vibrant. It is huge. There are tons of vendors selling huge stalks of bananas, papaya, coconuts, taro, breadfruit, and lots of other weird things I had never seen before. There are old men sitting in circles drinking kava and playing some sort of checkers game. There is a food section where we bought a local Samoan drink, some sort of sweet orange liquid that tasted somewhat like fruit, for 1 tala (44 cents) each. We also bought some kava to try sometime.


Local market in Apia, Samoa


Yes, there have been many adventures and there are still many adventures to be had. I am not sure if I will get to surf while I am here as the swell is supposed to pick up to 15 feet by the end of the week, and that is a bit too small for me. Regardless, there are tons of other cool things going on here, and I will be sure to keep you posted.


In parting, I will leave you with the poem that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to be inscribed on his grave:

UNDER the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me:
5
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tofa (goodbye) Amerika Samoa

We are just about to weigh anchor in Pago Pago harbor and head to Western Samoa. The passage will be an easy 80 miles, so we are leaving this afternoon to arrive in W. Samoa tomorrow morning.

American Samoa was a pleasant surprise. All of the reports we heard Pago Pago were not particularly complimentary: the harbor is dirty and smelly (somewhat true), the town is only good for provisioning and cheap beer (only half true), and there is tons of theft (not true at all).
The people here are very kind and helpful. Last night Lars and I wanted to go to the "Samoa Sports Center" where they advertised bowling, batting cages, and a full bar. The place is out in the boonies, but two girls driving around in their mom's car picked us up and took us all the way there, teaching us Samoan words on the way.

When we got to the bar it was completely empty, dark and quiet. The open sign was on so we went inside, and proceeded to order beers in probably the most creepy bar I have ever been in. The bowling lanes had been ripped out, leaving a huge dark, empty room with a bar at the far end. There were all sorts of empty rooms and long dark hallways through the building, and Lars and I made constant jokes about being the most perfect set for a horror movie. To make matters worse, there was a life sized replica of an alien from the movie "Alien vs. Predator". Freaking scary.

The batting cages had been converted into a driving range, so we hit a basket of golf balls (not my game) until we got thirsty (and brave) enough to go back in to the horror story bar for more beers. Don't get me wrong, the bar was run by very nice Korean girls, but it had to be one of the most strange set-ups I have ever been in.

Where was I going with this story? Perhaps it was in the direction that American Samoa has a lot of different kinds of adventures to offer and, although it is an American territory, is a unique country. People here are very helpful and also very curious. When I walk down the street people openly gawk at the palangi (white) girl and laugh at me when I say "talofa" (hello) or "fa'a'fe'tai" (thank you), but always in a kind way.

I have learned my way around the island and made a few local friends, which of course means that it is time to go. *sigh* Next stop: Western Samoa, where "everybody is crazy" according to the American Samoans. I don't think I will take their word for it, and I'll determine that for myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Am. Sam. (Sam I Am?)


View from the top: Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa


A lot can happen in a week, and a lot has happened in the past week, but I will try to relate events in a coherent, organized and interesting fashion, skipping over all the boring and trivial stuff only to report the most important and outstanding occurrences.

Perhaps not the most interesting, but by far the most important event (second to surfing which I will get to later) to happen is the fixing of our dinghy motor. Yayyy!! We have transportation again! You have no idea what a huge pain in the ass it was to row the dinghy into shore and back. People took pity on us and picked us up or gave us a tow, but it was pathetic. Not no more! The motor is now running better than ever thanks to my sister who sent us the part, thanks to the USPS who got it here to Pago Pago (a week late), and thanks to Mom and Dad who toiled all afternoon in the hot sun to put the motor back together while I went surfing.

Yes, I went surfing. It was gnarly. But also quite an experience. Lars and I headed toward the East end of the island yesterday morning, getting on the bus that would take us the farthest down the road. I was trying to concentrate on finding waves as we drove past many beaches and reef breaks, but there was a very intense Kung-Fu movie playing on the TV screen at the front of the very funky, homemade bus that I kept getting sucked into. We took the bus to the end of the line, stayed on the bus when it turned around and got off at a village where we saw a remotely friendly-looking wave.

The village of Tula is a "traditional village" according to the guide books, so Lars and I thought to ask the elders if it was ok for us to surf there. We went up to the fale where elderly, chiefly looking Samoan men were sitting around. Lars asked them for permission to surf and one man who I assume to be the chief of the village said, "Ahhh well, we have a funeral here today." Upon which the other men started laughing but Lars and I didn't know how to react. Lars said, "Oh ok, um, maybe we should go somewhere else then?" And the chief said, "Hmmmm, ahhhh, wellllll, I guess for you two it would be ok for you to surf here. But be careful not to get caught in the current because I won't come save you today." He was about 200 lbs.

We thanked him and headed to the beach. It was a nice sandy beach that turned into a live coral shelf where the water met the sand. I wanted to get in the water right away because the tide was dropping and you only surf in Samoa when the tide is high. Lars headed straight out and I followed him, tripping over coral heads and trying not to ding my board or myself. Kooky as it is, I wore booties because if I hadn't my feet would look like raw hamburger right now.

To make a long story short, I got washed around on the reef for about 30 minutes before I finally figured out that there was a channel just down the beach and I didn't have to walk in ankle deep water with waves crashing down on me... yep, I am a quick learner. I caught a few waves sitting in a little channel (break in the reef), sitting next to a coral head that would suck dry with every wave that came through. The waves here are gnarly, and I would rather catch a mushy, powerless wave then get smashed on dry reef. But I am working on that.

I have not been exploring exclusively for waves. A few days ago Mom, Dad and I hiked up to the peak that looks out over Pago Pago bay. Man, am I out of shape! It was about a 4 hour hike that we did 3 days ago, and I am still sore. That's what sitting on a boat will do to you. The hike felt really good in spite of the pain, and the view from the top was beautiful. I took lots of aerial shots of the bay as well as the stunning coast line on the north side of the island.

Today we took a tour of the island with my buddy Dimitri, who is also the security guard at the quay. Last night I was hanging out on the quay with him and his friends, when they pulled out their dinners to share. We had an impromptu Samoa feast. The food was, well, um... fatty. The laupipi is "turkey tail" cooked in taro leaves. I asked what turkey tail was and Dimitri laughed and said "turkey butt". I still don't know what it is but it was hard to eat. We also had lamb and cabbage as well as boiled green bananas with coconut milk. It was a very kind gesture and typical Samoan etiquette to share with me.

The tour Dimitri took us on was informative and interesting. He took us to spots along the coast with sheer lava cliffs that plunge down into blue green water, secluded beaches and other local spots. We went up a mountain to a village people call "Alaska" because it is a frigid 75 degrees there during the day. He also gave us all sorts of interesting insights into Samoan culture, telling us where the Samoan drug lord lives and how it is mostly the Western Samoans that fill the prison.

He seemed to be a bit biased, but Dimitri also told us that, "In American Samoa we eat good meat like ham and turkey and chicken. In Tonga they eat meat like dog and horse." I think we will be provisioning here.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saaamoa, American Saaamoa

There are no Starbucks in American Samoa. There is a McDonalds, a Carl's Jr., and a Pizza Hut (allegedly) on the other side of the island, but other than those restaurants and the United States Postal Service, there is not too much resembling American culture. Ok - check that - there are definitely American influences here, but it is nothing like Hawaii or even Papeete, which is refreshing.

While there have been reports of cholera from the drinking water and the disease that gives one elephantitus from mosquito bites, there are many luxuries of American life that I have learned not to take for granted. There is a laundry mat open 24/7 and loads only cost $1.50 each! This is down from $10 per kilo in Bora Bora, which made our laundry bill somewhere around $40. Not only is everything cheaper here compared to French Polynesia, but they use American money and everybody speaks at least a little bit of English, although most speak fluently (wow!). We went out to dinner the first night we got here (for the first time in months) and for four people (Lars joined us), drinks and big, delicious meals the bill came to $60. It was overwhelming to have every choice from steak to burgers to veggie plates and fresh fish; basically to have the opportunity to eat everything I have been craving for the past month.

It's not all peaches and cream - or bananas and coconut milk I should say - here. We tried to anchor for hours before we finally got the anchor set here in Pago Pago harbor. Every time we set the anchor it would drag, and when Dad lifted it up it would bring up trash, wires, rope, and even a car tire. Rumor has it there are even old dishwashers and washing machines on the bottom of the bay.

That's another issue here: trash. Trash lines the gutters and streets and floats everywhere in the water. There is a sociological reason for this. Samoan culture is about 3,000 years old, and for about 2,950 of those years everything the people used was biodegradable. Cups were made of coconuts, plates of banana leaves. When you were finished you threw your plate or cup on the ground and it went back into the earth. Not so with Styrofoam. With the introduction of all these synthetic products to the island there was no waste education/management. Oops. It is going to take a while yet for the trash issue to be dealt with.

I don't want to give you the impression that American Samoa is a dirty, polluted island. Yes, a few parts are, but it is also stunningly beautiful. The steep hills shoot out of the water and are covered thick with green foliage. The reefs fringing the island are healthy and make for some gnarly waves, although I have yet to snorkel or surf here. (Gimme a break, I've been here 2 whole days!)

Yesterday my friend Lars and I went to explore the island by bus. We hopped on a bus with loud reggae music blasting, painted bright colors, and filled with smiling locals. When we hit the end of the line for that bus we got on another, and ended up being taken to a very small village on the other side of the island where we helped an elderly couple take their groceries into their house. They offered us coffee, but we did not want the bus to leave us as it was the last one for the day. The bus driver offered to take us on an "extended bus line tour" and took us to his village. Even the smallest villages have big, well built churches. They are very religious. So much so that it is illegal to surf and swim on a Sunday.

On our way back across the island we picked up another local who, when we stopped at a convenience store, bought me and Lars beers. Just because. The people here are incredibly friendly. There are also a few Americans here. The Cal Maritime Academy arrived here yesterday, so Lars and I had a good time chatting with very drunk college students who have to let loose every time they get into port, which is not often. They leave tomorrow (fortunately). At the cell phone store I met three young guys who couldn't have been more than 30 who fly helicopters off the Chinese fishing boats. That has to be one of the most dangerous and awful jobs in the world, judging by their stories. Other than that I have not run into too many ex-pats, although there are some cruising boats that have been here 2 years or more. I could see getting stuck here. Hell, I could see buying property here and staying forever. But it's unlikely.

I am looking forward to further exploring the island. Last night Lars and I were chatting with Dimitri, the security guard at the dinghy dock, and he offered to take us around the island and give us the "local" tour. He also invited us to church with him this morning. People here are very kind and generous, open and trusting. When Lars asked the guys on the fishing boat docked next to him if he could buy a fish from them, they jumped up, grabbed a huge tuna, and gave it to him. Along with a beer. That reminds me! They have Coor's Light here. Ha! Maybe one of these days I will go all-out-American and eat at McDonalds and drink a Coor's light. But it's unlikely.


P.S. With my awesome, fast, FREE (pirated) internet I uploaded more pictures to FB. Check 'em:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.960569928068.2424178.6716829&l=3825be8ab7&type=1

Thursday, August 4, 2011

164 Miles to Go

We are currently underway to Samoa from Suwarrow. I am going to try to complain about passages as little as possible (which is why this post will be brief). Really, it has not been too bad - just a "short" 450 mile hop from Suwarrow to Pago Pago, American Samoa. The worst part, by far, was (and typically is) leaving Suwarrow. It is probable that I will never go back there again, considering how remote it is, although I loved it very much. It is also probable that I will never see the Rarotongan rangers, James and John - who I became very good friends with - again, although I will run into Yachties friends made along the was in Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand. This keeps my spirits up.

I am not sure what to expect of American Samoa. It is an American territory so people speak English (as well as Samoan) and sending packages there is no different than sending one to anywhere else in the U.S. Anybody want to send me a burrito?? I have heard there is McDonalds there, but I guess they are everywhere... maybe Subway or Starbucks? I could go for a Mocha Frappucino right now. There is allegedly good internet in Pago Pago which is very exciting. There is also supposed to be good surf and a national park that rivals Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. I'll report back on my findings.

I feel like we are coming up on our last leg of the journey before heading to New Zealand. This morning I was looking at the charts and we are only 1,500 miles from the north island. Pretty exciting - especially considering we have already sailed some 8,000 miles. And after we get to Samoa we will have short hops (1 or 2 days sailing) down south until we are ready to shove off for NZ sometime in October (the dreaded 1,000 mile passage of very rough water - uggggg).

But for now the ocean and wind are calm; the bright pale blue sky and the electric kool-aid blue of the water surround us 360 degrees. All is well aboard S/V Rutea, and will be even better when we arrive in Pago Pago tomorrow.
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At 8/4/2011 9:15 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 13°58.19'S 168°21.84'W

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Leaving Suwarrow Tomorrow

Yes - believe it or not - I am leaving my beloved Suwarrow tomorrow. I am not happy about it, in fact I have been melancholy all day. However, there are more cool places to be discovered in the South Pacific (I guess) and we are running low on beer (disaster!) not to mention fresh vegetables (which I dreamed about last night).

There are many reasons why I do not want to leave Suwarrow. There are the positive reasons: this place is bitchin', I have lots of friends here, there is always something cool to do; and the negative reasons: many of the boats that arrived in the past two days have described 15-20 foot seas, very squally, windy, and all around nasty conditions. Not very reassuring. Neither is the fact that I can see the ocean outside the reef and it looks choppy, confused and menacing, while the tranquil waters of the lagoon whisper to me to stay forever. I keep saying that if there were surf here I would stay forever - never mind hurricane season.

In all seriousness, this is one of the most special places I have ever been, and most people who come here agree. Our friends on Songline arrived two days ago but had a very rough trip so we sent them many emails of encouragement while they were en route. When they got here they said, "Yea, we thought you guys had gone off the deep end with all your mushy gushy emails about how great it is here, but... I get it now." Yes, I guess this is the kind of place that you have to experience in person to fully understand. I won't sugar coat it - it sucks getting here and it sucks leaving here, but being here is so worth it.

My friend Annette likes to play a game at the close of an event or day: Best, Worst and Funniest. I would say the best part of being here was learning - learning the ways of the coconut, learning how to free dive deeper, how to collect and eat clams from the reef or how to use hermit crabs as bait, learning how to cope being swarmed by sharks or searching for lobster on the reef at midnight. I did not encounter the willingness of the locals (in part due perhaps to the language barrier) in French Polynesia to teach me so much, and I am so thankful/stoked for my experiences here.

The funniest part of being here (save worst for last) was a jam session that went down at a pot-luck here a few nights ago. I was playing guitar with an Aussie guy, Lars was on the harmonica, and John - the sweetest, 300 pound Rarotongan guy you will ever meet (who also happened to be completely hammered) - was freestyling and playing the spoons. He is normally the shy type, but with a little help from Jack Daniels he was coming up with all sorts of crazy lyrics pertaining to Suwarrow, Yachties, drinking, and the island life in general. Something clicked in all of us and we were all laughing and rocking our socks off for hours. Maybe you had to be there, but it was certainly a highlight for me.

The worst part of being here (as always) is leaving. I hate it. I hate saying good bye to people and places I have come to love over the past few days (I know it sounds shallow, but considering the circumstances... ) knowing I will probably never see them again. What a heartache. But you might ask: is it worth it? And I would say: hell yes. You know how the saying goes: better to have loved and left than never to have loved at all.

Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic. Perhaps I am being totally incoherent. All I know is that tomorrow we leave the blissful comfort of this little piece of paradise and head out for the big, almighty and powerful ocean. Next stop: American Samoa.
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At 8/2/2011 7:22 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 13°14.88'S 163°06.47'W

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