Society Islands,
French Polynesia
June 21, 2005 - After leaving our rustic experience in the Tuamotus, we couldn’t face going into Papeete,
the "big" town in Tahiti.  So, we anchored in Port Phaeton which is located on the isthmus between Tahiti-
Nui and Tahiti-Iti.  This anchorage was so calm. The down side was that it was murky water.  There was a
marina nearby and they had showers we could use plus a washing machine and dryer that we could use
for 500 Polynesian Francs  (over $5.00!) per load per machine.  We made good use of the washing
machine and just hung the clothes out to dry.  

We were strategically located about 20 kilometers from Teahuopoo- a pro surf spot.  Inside of the
Teahuopoo is a smaller wave- Teahuopoo-iti.  Lou and I took the kids surfing there a couple of times.  
Sounds easy, right?  The public transportation system on Tahiti is sporadic at best.  There is some rhyme
and reason to it, but not that we could tell and not that we could get a consistent response to.  The
sources we used were:  bus schedules, other bus drivers, other passengers and the tourist office.  
Needless to say, this made us resort to the ancient ritual of hitching a ride.  This does not come naturally
to anyone in our family.  Plus, we had heard that sticking out your thumb was not polite!  Add to this that
we had four people, a surfboard and a boogie board.  We needed a pick up truck.  The rejection rate was
quite high sometimes.  But, when you got a ride, it felt great (to me it seemed to be the equivalent to
catching a wave!).  There were a couple of rides that we got, where the driver wasn’t necessarily going all
the way, but just took us all the way to our destination out of the goodness of their hearts.  One rainy day,
when there weren’t very many good prospects for rides, we did get a ride with a guy and his friends who
had been drinking quite a bit.  When we arrived back at the dock where our dinghy was, they didn’t want to
say goodbye.  The driver gave Martin a necklace and kept saying YO!    Later, Emily and Martin made up
a rap song in honor of this new friend and the only word used in the whole song is YO!     We also caught
rides with people visiting from the US and that was always very interesting for both parties.  I always left
them with one request:  Have a Starbuck’s cappuccino for me when you get back home!  

We have met many nice people hitchihiking.  However, we have discussed with Emily and Martin that it is
not advisable to do in many places in the world.

Martin had his teeth repaired by a dentist in a town outside of Papeete.  We are pleased with his work.  
Martin doesn’t look so gnarly.   The cost for this repair was $100 per tooth.  The dentist apologized for this
cost and asked us a couple of times if we had insurance.  It’s ironic no one apologized at McDonald’s when
we had lunch there (under my protest) and it cost us $50.  

We sailed from Tahiti to Moorea across the Sea of the Moon.  I belted out Bali Hai a couple of times as we
got a view of the renowned spires of Moorea.  Then Emily and I started singing all the songs we could
remember from the musical- South Pacific.  Moorea is where the movie was filmed.  I’m proud to say Emily
is well versed in Broadway musicals.

Ever been hugged by a stingray?  We have!  There is a place in Moorea where the tour groups take the
tourists to feed the stingrays.  We went there in our dinghy and brought along some shrimp.  The rays
circle you , glide in and then—start gliding up your body—like they want to give you a hug!  Their mouth
are not located on their noses, but further back.  And the suction is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner.  
Nearby, their close cousin the shark was hanging out in the pass, hoping to get lucky with the scraps that
might float his way.

We also went to the maraes, which were the spiritual centers of the Polynesian culture.  That was until the
missionaries came along and did an excellent job of destroying all of the tikis and a lot of the buildings.    
There were some buildings that were over 10 stories tall and you guessed it—destroyed by the
missionaries.

We had a wonderful experience with a Dutchman (Aad Van DerHyde) that settled in Moorea in the early
60s.  He is an artist and seems to enjoy his life on the island.  Although, there have been significant
changes since he first arrived—but he said that is true of everywhere.  His most famous work is of the
Madonna and child.  The piece is made of mother of pearl, black pearls and  human hair.  

After this experience, we got a ride with a couple from Minnesota in their rental car.  They were on a cruise
ship vacation.  Their cruise ship was anchored not far from our anchorage.  So, Emily got the bright idea
that we should kayak over to the cruise ship and see if we could get invited aboard.  Well, we headed that
way and just as we got close- they started taking up the anchor!  We could see our new friends waving
from their balcony.  Yes, we felt very small.  And Emily was disappointed—she was looking forward to
being invited aboard and have some ice cream.

The islands and the people in French Polynesia are beautiful.  Unfortunately, our interactions with the
locals have diminished.  We are kind of hanging out with the same boats all the time, which is a good thing
and a bad thing.  There are now about 6 kid boats with kids from 10-19 years of age on board.  It really is
wonderful how these young people all get along with each other.  The older boys have taken Martin under
their wing and have befriended him.   Emily for the most part is doing well with the older girls.   But, I think
the best experience for us is a combination of this cruising community and being off on our own.  Of
course, the comfortable path is to have our friends around us.  But, that is not the most memorable.  I think
we are getting our second wind.  And, of course, it will be easier when we are in countries where English is
spoken.  I have been quite surprised at how many people do speak English.  (Thanks to MTV?)

Lou has been getting his exercise by playing volleyball with the other cruisers and occasionally gets to go
surfing.  Mary has been practicing yoga in the mornings and then tries to get in some kind of exercise—
swimming or hiking during some part of the day.   The kids usually get to have some form of exercise
everyday.  Martin is still very intense about surfing.  Emily enjoys swimming and diving off the boat.  
July 21, 2005 - We are now anchored in Suwarrow, Cook Islands.  This is probably as remote as we are
going to get.  Only two people live on this island—the caretakers.  They live here only six months per year.  
They live elsewhere during hurricane season.  More about this in our next update.

Our final few weeks in French Polynesia were nice.  We did start feeling a little trapped by the prices of
things.  We didn’t do any paid touristy things because it cost so much.  Sometimes we thought this was
ridiculous to be get upset about spending money when we have already spent so much getting here.  The
economy in French Polynesia continued to stump us.  And we never got a consistent or straight answer on
it.  

From Moorea, we did an overnight sail to Huahine (Pronounced: Who A Heeney?  Like it?  Didn’t know
Heeney was a Polynesian name).  We celebrated Martin’s 10th birthday here on the 4th of July.  And yes,
we had fireworks!  One of our cruiser friends had some fireworks and Lou built a couple more of the
Colombian hot air balloons that he learned how to make from our friends in Costa Rica.   The hot air
balloons still need some refinement.   Martin had cherry pie and chocolate cake and lots of nice presents.  
It is amazing what cruisers come up with for gifts- brownies, a necklace, an electronic gizmo (that Lou
enjoys playing with) and wax sticks for his surfboard.  

From Huahine we went to Tahaa and Raietea.  We enjoyed snorkeling in these amazing coral gardens
where you are swept through a pass that is sometimes only one foot deep.  You glide through canyons of
corals amid lots of fish!   And suck that tummy in!

French Polynesia has the Hivea Festival that culminates around Bastille Day (July 14th-).  There are many
activities surrounding this celebration-  races, dancing, singing, eating and celebrating.  Our kind of fun!  
We had heard Bora Bora was an excellent place to see these festivities.  On the other hand, some cruisers
were negative about Bora Bora because of the increase in resorts on the island and the decrease of
places we could anchor.  We found Bora Bora to be wonderful.  Granted, we had not been to Bora Bora
before, so we had no comparison.  From the way some people were talking, we imagined an Acapulco with
oppressive high rise hotels everywhere.  This was not the case.  The people were very nice and the
provisioning was good.  We have a simple definition for good provisioning—ROOT BEER.  If Emily and
Martin can get root beer—it’s a well stocked store.  

The festivities were a lot of fun.  The dancing was amazing and very erotic!   Both male and females
participated in the dancing.  Those hips can really get going.  The dancing is usually accompanied by
drumming.   The drummers almost get the same work out as the dancers—with their intense and prolonged
beat.  You can hardly keep still when you hear this beat.  The mostly local crowd was swept up in the
performance.  Emily and Martin’s favorite part was that they could get cotton candy at the carnival!   

There was a parade in town reminiscent of our St. Patrick’s day parades in Topeka—as many people in
the parade as watching it.  The matrons in their colorful dresses and straw hats with lots of flowers were my
favorites!  

We also enjoyed watching the manta rays from the dock of the Bora Bora Hotel.  They were ethereal as
the swooped around the lights of the dock, feeding on the plankton that was attracted to the lights.  It was
a mesmerizing experience- one that almost put you in a trance.

We left French Polynesia knowing little more French than when we arrived.  C’est la vie!

Our trip to Suwarrow was rolly, very rolly.  But, we sailed the whole way and Ace took good care of us.

We’ll be here for a week or so and then we’ll head to Samoa.  

What we are reading:

Mary—Memoirs of a Geisha (I finally read this.  When it came out I was too busy with child rearing), One
Hundred Secret Senses  (Amy Tan—and I loved it!), Middlesex (about a hermaphrodite)

Lou-Over the Edge of the World (Magellan)

Emily-Ballerina, A Walk to Remember, Ballet Stories

Martin-Surfing magazines, Frankenstein (a junior classic version).
Ace and crew about to enter the pass
at Bora Bora.  Photo from friends on
the trimaran, Redwood coast.
Martin at Tahiti's famous pro surf site,
Teahupoo, pronounced "Cho-poo".  
We hitchhiked in the rain to get there,
but it was worth it!
Martin taking a wave at Teahupoo's
beach break.
Emily on a party wave with locals at the
beach break inside the reef at
Teahupoo.
Kate from Carmelita, and Emily and
Martin, in a little waterfall pool on
Moorea.
Martin and a French dentist on Tahiti,
finally getting his teeth fixed after
breaking them in the Marquesas.
This is Aad Van der Hyde, a dutchman who
has lived on Moorea for 40 years, making
his living as an artist.  He does amazing
and various things, like this sword of wood,
black pearls and shark teeth!
Leaving Moorea for an overnight
passage to Huahine.
Martin's 10th birthday celebration in
Huahine.  He was lucky to have lots of
kid boats and other friends in
attendance.