We left Moorea and did a one night sail (16 hours) to the island of Huahine. We read from the compendium about an anchorage just off of Murimahora Motu. We made the pass easily and found two other catamarans on the sandy bank – both Aussies; Miss Catana (whom we have met before) and Southern Man. We dropped anchor in 10′ of crystal clear water.
We puttered around the boat for a bit until we had a visitor in an outrigger – Paul.
Paul doesn’t speak English. In fact, we are not entirely sure he speaks any known language. I’m not sure if it is physical or mental, but Paul is a giving and very sweet man.
When he stopped by Starry Horizons it was to ask us to sign his guest book. He showed us a full book and then a 2/3 full book, which he stored in a waterproof case. I signed for us and taped a boat card to the page. Paul pulled out three husked coconuts for us. Through some hand gestures, Paul told us where the best snorkeling was and invited us to the shore to visit him. We said we were planning on snorkeling, but maybe tomorrow.
When Paul left I grabbed our biggest knife and cut off the top of the coconut. It’s was a mature coconut, so the water was a little bitter. I drank about half of it and then used the knife to give the coconut a few solid thwacks until it cracked open. The meat was the perfect ripeness for eating straight from the coconut – it was firm but moist.
We did go for a very short swim. The current here is incredibly strong, so much that we were concerned about getting back to the boat. Instead, I swam over to Southern Man to say hello and chat. The dinghy was gone from Miss Catana, but when they came back we took LD over to say hello and stayed for a drink. We left when it was starting to get dark, and we all watched a new catamaran come in to the anchorage (named Free Spirit, another Aussie boat). Paul paddled out in his outrigger to guide them in and give them anchoring advice.
The next morning, Thursday, we woke from a very restful sleep to find Southern Man and Free Spirit gone, and Miss Catana leaving. We had this lovely anchorage all to ourselves, so we took advantage and got Phoenix up.
Then we packed up for a morning outing. We left at 9:30 and took the dinghy to Baie Faie, about two miles away. Just like in Moorea, we followed a path of black and white markers, indicating a PWC channel. We found a small boat dock to tie up to and then walked about a kilometer into the town of Faie. We were looking for the blue-eyed eels, and had to stop and ask for directions at a little roadside stand around 10:45. They pointed in the direction we had been walking, so we kept going but they called after us – no, right there! The eels were in a small river next to the road. Their eyes are very blue, and the eels were pretty big, up to four feet. I had brought a piece of baguette to feed them and we enjoyed watching them suck the bread from the top of the water. While we were there, a bus tour group came too, and their guide got in the shallow water and fed the eels fish scraps.
From there we took the road towards Baie Maroe, to stop at the scenic overlook over Baie Maroe at 11:30. This bay is probably technically not a bay – it’s the body of water between Huahine’s north and south islands. The islands are joined by a small bridge. This bay is where the small ship cruise ships come in to Huahine.
We made our way back to Starry Horizons and ate our picnic lunch in the cockpit. Paul stopped by again and brought us three papaya. I asked if I could come to shore for a walk and he said yes. Through hand gestures and the help of my watch, I told him I’d be there at 2, and he pointed at my feet and communicated for me to wear good shoes.
Paul was an amazing guide. He immediately hugged me and gave me a bouquet of three kinds of hibiscus flowers. He walked me passed his home and boats to the other side of the motu, where the Pacific Ocean stretched out beyond the sandy beach. He made sure I knew we were going to be walking a while, and I said ok. Paul frequently pointed out the stunning views and the warm temperatures with his hand gestures. He told me he runs every morning and watches the boats come into the pass so he can run to met them in his outrigger. He also picked up interesting seashells to show me and we soon had a collection going. When it was too much to carry, he found a split coconut and removed the husk by hand to make a bowl of the shell to carry the seashells.
We walked passed what I think we some pensions (guest houses) and we walked all the way to the north of the island. Paul drew a picture of a cruise ship and conveyed that the ships come in and stop for 4-5 hours to do an excursion. At the very north of the motu, there is a beach bar set up with picnic tables, overlooking the stunning scenery. I guessed that perhaps the cruise ship guests can arrange a trip to the motu for a picnic lunch.
As we walked back down the east side of the motu, Paul made sure to point out when I could see Starry Horizons. He picked up a stick, and I wasn’t sure why until we passed a few houses with loose dogs running around. Paul made sure I walked on his right and kept the dogs to his left. He did introduce me to two smaller, friendly dogs.
Based on the houses I would say maybe a dozen people live here. Paul showed me the hose where they get their water supply. It comes through a submarine pipe to the island, and then a metered hose runs the length of the island to provide fresh water. Just north of Paul’s home is a estate that looks more like a vacation home for a foreigner – complete with a kid’s playground and outdoor kitchen. I think Paul keeps the grounds of the estate. He pantomimed someone coming in, looking around, and telling him he did a good job.
By then we had arrived back to the dinghy. Paul picked some more flowers for me – plumerias and another sweet smelling one I don’t know the name of. I think he offers me more coconuts, but I told him I still had two. As a parting gift, I have Paul some extra gloves we had lying around – perhaps they will be handy in the tough yard work he does.
All in all, I spent two hours walking around the island with Paul. It’s the sweetest and most welcoming experience we’ve had with a local, and I’m amazed how well we could communicate having no language in common and Paul only speaking a few syllables.
Back on Starry Horizons, David had been working on videos and we were still all alone. We had another quiet restful night and left Friday morning to sail around Huahine to the village of Fare.
Our visit to Fare was mostly administrative. We needed wifi to take care of some paperwork back home, in addition to getting gasoline for the dinghy, some groceries, and some medicines from the pharmacy (I can’t seem to kick a cough I brought back from the states). The Fare grocery store is surprisingly big and well stocked. I actually found pork chops!! In front of the grocery store were a few stalls set up, selling prepared food like crab beignets, something called retia (I think this is the dessert we had at Bali Hai Hotel in Cook’s Bay, recipe here) and fruit salad (papaya, bananas, star fruit, passion fruit, and vanilla).
This afternoon we leave for Raiatea. We need to clear out of French Polynesia in Bora Bora by July 28th, so we still have quite a bit of time to see Raitiea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora.