Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Living Afloat in Huahine

It feels as if Mark and I are living in Fare, Huahine, these days. We have become used to the island pace and the Polynesian way of life. We go to the hardware store on a Saturday morning and are not surprised to find it closed. We take our jerry cans to the fuel station, never expecting to be helped the first time around. Once, they were out of gasoline on day one, and a month later, the station was already closed at 11am. A second attempt, usually has us carry full jugs home. As Mark states: “Whatever we want to do, count on about 50% of it working out.” And, he is right when it comes to local matters, like a store or food van being open, fresh fish being for sale, coco glacĂ© (coconuts on ice to drink the deliciously refreshing coco water inside - $1 a piece!) vendors being present, a planned event, a given direction, a previously reliable internet connection actually working, and so on. When it comes to boat parts or other pieces we need, to fix or maintain the boat, the percentage of finding something on tiny Huahine drops to zero.

Eggplant gnocchi with boat grown spinach
Every day, fresh baguettes await in the one grocery store, where a variety of produce is sadly lacking. We have the habit of walking the refrigeration aisle, just in case there is more to be found than the usual eggplants, cabbage and carrots. So far, we have no luck. We haven’t eaten a tomato or lettuce in weeks, or other dinner veggies in months, and even cucumbers are becoming sparse. We manage OK, though, and our creativity with meals is still existent. Having a constant supply of basil and sprouts helps. One thing we (I) can’t get used to in French Polynesia is the early time everyone rises. People get out of bed around 4am and start the day before 5! Most stores open at 6:30am. It makes sense, since the early hours are the coolest. Mark is also most productive before 7am, but I still have a hard time waking up with the sun.

On Irie, we have the unwritten rule that whatever we haven’t used for a year (or two) – except for parts and tools – needs to get off the boat. Having quite a few things that belong in this category, we looked forward to a planned flea market in Fare last week. When the event was canceled, we decided to take a tub of stuff to shore anyway and set up shop next to the vegetable sellers. As “new providers” we were the hit of town, and gear unavailable on the island went quick. Mark and I made enough money for lunch at a roulotte and happy hour that day, and for a Valentine’s dinner at the Yacht Club on Saturday!

As we set about our daily routines, we enjoy being comfortable on one of the free mooring balls in Fare’s multi-hued lagoon. The view of the surrounding reefs, islands, beach and water is pretty and the wind has recently been helping us out with electricity and keeping the temperature bearable. Thanks to our friends Rachelle and Patrick on SV Namaste (now in the Marquesas), who told us where to find abandoned fruit trees, we go “shopping” in nature for avocados, grapefruit, limes and bananas. The gusty wind had knocked over some plants and branches to make the pickings easy!

Since the sun gave us a break yesterday, we braved the 120% humidity and swarms of mosquitoes to go on a walk in the jungle. Besides getting some exercise and feeling as if we were the only people on the island, we enjoyed exploring the remote interior to the sounds of birds and a rushing river. The lush foliage of the tropics and the beautiful flowers of Polynesia never cease to impress me. We even found some hot pepper bushes to spice up our meals. Huahine, as most of the fertile islands of French Polynesia, truly is a piece of paradise to visit or live in and its abundance of natural wealth and beauty is a fact. The locals realize this and love their island. And we do, too!

Leaving civilization to head into Huahine's interior

Little waterfall along the river

Following the river into the jungle

Narrow trail into the foliage

Colorful flowers along the way

Easy avocado pickings

Tiare flower bush

Tiare Tahiti

Valentine's dinner: tuna carpaccio for me and fish burger for Mark

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