Raivavae

IMG_20130809_063608After the drama of the anchor dragging we settled into an amazing week on the island of Raivavae, a place I’d never even heard of which suddenly became home to us. Mostly we were working on the engine or trying to do other boat jobs to prepare to set sail so we didn’t see the stuff tourists go for – beautiful beaches off out by the reef, mountain walks with incredible views, diving, snorkelling, canoeing. Apparently that’s what tourists do anyway, when tourists visit. Chez Linda, the attractive pension run by the lovely Linda and John, where John and Deb were staying, organized all that kind of thing, along with lending bikes and cooking delicious meals. In the time we were there, though, I think only two other couples arrived. Interestingly there was a lot of local opposition to the airport being built thirteen years ago and you still get the feeling that, despite being welcoming and friendly, this is an island that is quite happy to not be inundated with visitors.

    
New church
New church
Police station
Police station
View from the galley
View from the galley
Euloge takes us to some ancient ruins
Euloge takes us to some ancient ruins

We would have seen almost nothing of the place save the workshop, the post office (for internet connection) and the outside of the nearby shop (which despite its ‘Ouvert’ sign was always closed), had it not been for the kind help of Euloge and his family. Euloge took us under his wing, giving us lifts to and from the mechanic’s workshop on the other side of the island so we could work on the injector pump. (I say we, obviously I mean Doug. I mainly stood around trying to work out the French for ‘vice’ or ‘diesel’ or ‘toilet paper’.) After we’d finished for the day, Euloge would drive us back to the boat, each time taking a slightly different route or stopping to show us something new. Even after we’d failed to fix the outboard motor on his boat (which we were trying to do as a favour to repay him a little for all his time and effort looking after us), he kept smiling and kept offering us more bananas, coconuts, papaya, grapefruit or whatever we drove past that he thought we might want – he would just stop the truck, jump out and start chopping at the plant to get us our fruit!

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“You want bananas?”
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“Coconuts?”
"Papaya?"
“Papaya?”

Without Euloge we might have had a disappointingly unsuccessful week (the engine still isn’t fixed – more on that in another post). With him, and his fantastic 15 year old daugher Atu, we felt welcomed, got to know a bit of the local history, customs and language, saw a whole load of cool stuff, had some hilarious laughs, found out where we could buy a can of beer (in a little shop which looked like somebody’s house and maybe was), and got an invitation to go stay next year: “but not on your boat, come to our house!”. They turned it from an anonymous, if stunning, island, to a place full of warm and unexpected memories. Thank you Euloge and family! Merci beaucoup! Mauruuru! We hope to come back some day…

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Coconut plantation by the quay
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Showing us where people used to be beheaded!
Great tour guide!
Great tour guide!

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