Adventures come in many sizes. Us setting off on our sailing trip from the UK back in July 2016 marked the start of a fairly big adventure. Often though it’s the micro adventures that provide most pleasure.
We’d spent all morning trying to sort out an online food order through a website in Tahiti. Here in the Gambiers (we sailed for four days and nights from Amanu in the Tuamotus to get here) the internet / data is transparent. See through. Fickle. Lacking substance. Miso soup like.
But we managed patiently to get a “shopping cart” together only for the technology to fall over when it came to the payment bit, loosing in the process all the items from the cart. Rude word. We started the process again. There’s a deadline to get the order in “the system” before 1pm local time. We started this pursuit at 8am. At 12.45pm, we press the payment button again. The spinning wheel of gloom and doom appears. After 10 minutes, we get a message which says “Hey suckers! You’ve spent all morning trying to order cheese from Papeete but, guess what, it’s not happening. You’re never getting these 5 hours back. Let me say it again, suckers!”
I decided a walk was in order for an hour or so. I headed out of the village to explore a new bit of the island. I passed a class from the local school flying drones. It was a fine reminder to me not to assume what kind of lives other people live. Don’t judge Helen just because we’re on a remote island in the Pacific. They had a big 42 inch telly set up under a terraced wooden gazebo to be able to watch the footage they’d taken from up high.
I slip from high end tech to low tech living. There’s a shack next to the beach, built of wood from the forest, salvaged sheets on the roof. A fire burns in an oil drum. The path I’m walking seems to disappear so I ask if it’s okay to pass. A BIG Tahitian man lounging in the sea, his body covered in tattoos smiles broadly and say yes yes yes.
I’m wearing flip flops and the path is not so defined and really requires different footwear so I turn back. It’s then I get engaged in a french / english / pointing conversation with this man and his wife. They both ooze warmth and joy. He says we have little or no money, we fish, we grow fruit. He’d previously worked the pearl farms which are extensive here. The pearls are the reason the Gambiers have a financial wealth that other areas of French Polynesian do not have.
I explained that my husband Dave was on our boat doing some chores. My new tattooed friend said you must both come back, bring Dave, let’s get some photographs. I was presented with a carrier bag full of mangos and bananas. It’s what happens here. Generosity and sharing appear to be an essential part of the culture. We will go back. I’ll take some cake or cookies. I’m looking forward to another ‘collision” with this kind uncomplicated couple.
And a quick word about the Gambiers. They are beautiful islands. A mix of reefs, clear water and hills with paths to walk. We’ve been here 6 days now and will be here at least a month. We walked the outer edge of the main island, Mangareva, about 20km on road and tracks. There are a couple of small peaks to tackle too, Mount Duff and Mount Mokoto. Not particularly high at 430ish meters above sea level. I’m looking forward to the great views both offer of the whole archipelago.
Thankfully the hideous lightening storm we came though one night to get here is long forgotten. Don’t put one of these on your Christmas list.
Footnote…I wrote this about 2 weeks ago. Haven’t been able to upload it or any piccies. For an explanation, see above!! Sending it to the UK for help. Piccies will follow, sometime.
*(headline created by pesky brother after being asked to submit post due to lack of pacific interweb access)