Papeete Whirlwind Part 2

File size exceeded SSB sailmail transmit capability, so here’s the second half of the blog post…..

Somehow, the timing of our arrival in Papeete perfectly coincided with Heiva-related events. Our next day in Papeete, July 15th, we learned, was the second and last day of traditional Polynesian sports events, held on the beautiful grounds of the seaside Musee de Tahiti and Ses Isles, a short bus ride from Papeete. What a memorable day it was. The stately grounds of the Musee provided a perfect location for these sporting events, which celebrated traditional Oceanic games and/or activities. Several hundred people, mostly locals, and some French ex-pats and a few tourist types comfortably fit into the roughly 5 acres of grassy, tree-studded open space. The sporting events took place in three different areas; multiple food tents, a well organized location for full meals, and tents for vendors of Oceanic artwork (wood carving, jewelry, woven goods, etc.) rounded out the scene and provided sustenance for the attendees of the day-long events. The sports events included throwing lances at a coconut attached to the top of a pole, shouldering a large, smooth rock (different weight categories, the largest being 175 kg!!), coconut husking contest, and the world championship coconut tree climbing race. Dance troupes from the Marquesas and the Austral Islands also performed. Space limitations keep me from writing a long paragraph about each of these events, but suffice to say that each was extremely well organized, featured competitors from all over Oceania, was riveting in intensity and emotion, and showcased people with unbelievable strength, agility and skill. For example, at the end of each lance throwing session, the target coconut, some 50 feet high up, absolutely bristled with the lances that had impaled it; some of the coconut tree climbers broke the 6 second threshold for climbing approximately 10 meters up a coconut tree with nothing but a figure eight of cloth around their feet, and the winning coconut husking team celebrated their hard earned victory in an emotional group hug of bodies glistening with running sweat and coconut water after a fearsome 20 minutes of cleaving coconuts in half with one stroke of the ax, removing the coconut meat from the shell, and packing it all up in the burlap sack. These events, as with the dance and singing elements of Heiva, celebrate and valorize life in Oceania.
After such a high energy beginning to our Papeete visit, it had to become a bit less intense, and thankfully it did so. After two nights at Marina Papeete and an early morning (6am) visit to the famous Marche Papeete (Papeete Market) to purchase fresh vegetables, fruit, chicken and pork, we shifted four miles eastward to the free anchorage near the other primary marina, Marina Taena, (which also has a glorious view of Moorea). Prior to departing Marina Papeete I replaced Mr. Perkins’ primary and secondary fuel filters and bled the air out of the fuel lines and changed the oil and filter – service tasks I prefer to do at dock than at anchor in case I run into problems. On our way to the anchorage we called to request permission to cross in front of Papeete Airport’s runway; it was a good thing we did as the friendly Port Authority officer requested us to pause for 15 minutes to allow two incoming jets to land before proceeding and thus avoid running the risk of the low flying planes clipping the top of our mast. Yesterday (Monday 17 July) we went to Papeete by bus; on our to do list was visiting a black pearl merchant, picking up the parts we ordered weeks ago from Ocean 2000 chandlery (which arrived from Australia in the nick of time), seeing our friends on Bela Serena, and visiting the French Patisserie. Yesterday we began the provisioning process with a marathon 12 hour long day (the last major provisioning was in La Paz in early April and this provisioning needs to last an equally long time). Today, (Wednesday) is a low to the belly on board day; tomorrow the provisioning will continue and occupy the better part of three more days. That work, plus important internet work (like uploading photos to the blog), and possibly a Saturday dance performance, will round out our time in Papeete. Oh, and I would like to find a DVD of recent Heiva performances – they are truly unforgettable.

Mark

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