Travel makes one modest;
You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
|White terns flying above lagoon|
We thought we felt trapped visiting atolls by land rather than by water but it seems we may have the best deal after all. On the first atoll we stayed on the lagoon side, here we are on the ocean side. Better breeze to keep things cooler. Even though it is winter, weather is still very balmy. Winter is supposed to be the drier season and to date it doesn’t feel very dry.
Their publicity claims that Rangiroa is the 2nd largest atoll in the world but it’s more in the ranks of 23rd. It could fit Tahiti inside its borders – it is very large.
|Palm tree shadows in shallow lagoon|
|Baby palms, mature palms, beach line|
Rangiroa has a green lagoon where the sand is so white that the overhead palm trees reflect their green foliage in the water making the water a beautiful green. It has a blue lagoon that is used as a shark nursery for two types of sharks: the black tipped and lemon. There is also an area called God’s Aquarium, a favorite of divers and snorkelers. It has the reef island, a motu still covered with jagged pieces of reef of many shapes, one in particular becoming somewhat of a Jacuzzi with the right waves/tide. ‘Vin de Tahiti’ grows its grapes here and makes 3 white wines and one rosé. Two of their wines have won silver medals in Parisian competitions two years in a row… We will try to find a bottle or two when we return to Tahiti just to say we have tried wines grown in corals. Before deciding on growing vines here, the owners went to all 5 archipelagos to decide which one had the best growing conditions.
|Even in 20 knot winds, the locals paddle|
|The birds face the wind - waiting|
The government is trying to legitimize the French Polynesian market again but it will take a while to recover from this and the fact that there are too many pearls being produced. Grafting for other pearl farms in French Polynesia is done here. They have the best conditions to grow young oysters and pearls when they are in their most sensitive stage of growth. They also work the nacre once an oyster is done producing their pearls (maximum of three per oyster). They can make beauty products with the powdered nacre, buttons, inlays, jewelry, purses, pareo ties, etc. Many beautiful nacre carvings can be found.
|Made of over 400 flowers in a twist pattern - Thank you Manahiri|
We unknowingly chose a pension where the wife is the baker for Rangiroa… You can imagine the breakfasts we are being served each morning - - - easy on the palate, not easy on the waistline… Delicious warm and fresh croissants, pains au chocolat, sesame seed baguettes, homemade pamplemousse marmalade, Jesuits (a type of pastry with almonds), etc.
|Shrine made with pearl oyster shells|
|Close up of shrine|
|Three small tombs - unmarked|
|Pink to turquoise to green to blue hues|
We miss having fruits - - - hard to find in the Tuomatus. At one store we saw oranges but when another customer asked about purchasing them, they were told they were reserved for someone else. Other than fruit juices and coconut and at times bananas, we have not been able to find fruits here. Thankfully we were still carrying some of the apples we bought in the Society Islands.
Dive club gives tide charts in Fakarava, the neighboring atoll only 200 km from here yet they cannot figure out the tides here in Rangiroa… Therefore the passes can be tricky.
We take a speed boat to the blue lagoon on the only day we had nice weather. It took us 40 minutes to do the 30 km to get there on the way out but 70 minutes on the way back. Winds were still strong and the waters very choppy. It was worth the trip and to get out of our room at the pension… We also walked to Bird Island nearby. Pictures tell more than words.
- We have yet to see anyone with dryers in all of our travels in French Polynesia. Everything is dried outside on clothes lines. It makes for stiff towels at every pension we’ve stayed at – just like home sweet home.
- In the Tuomatus, they collect and drink rain water – not good for our consumption. One has to purchase bottled water.
- In most of French Polynesia, they import frozen French fries from Idaho…. Instead of cutting their own potatoes…
- The first and last moons rather than being sideways ( or ) are more like a bowl right side up or upside down…
- Who would have ever thought we’d be tired of poisson cru (raw fish) in any form: sashimi, sushi, carpaccio, etc.
- Who would have ever thought we’d be tired of baguettes, croissants, pains au chocolat, etc… Give me oats, fruits or veggies – please.
- In Marquesas and Societies we could have firi-firi (donuts) any day of the week, here only on Sundays…
Only one more atoll and we are back to Papeete for one night before heading to the Austral Islands where we heard they have 50 knot winds and the weather is truly wintery. Yikes.