Monday, May 17, 2010
The Society Islands - Moorea
S/V Aspen – May 17, 2010 – Log #41
Position: 17 degrees 30.0’ S 149 degrees 45.0’ W
Tahiti is a typical French Polynesian island. Flowers float by in the water as we sail and the hustle and bustle of the island is everywhere. The old mixes with the new as people paddle their outrigger canoes that they now use to race each other in competition.
We toured the island and saw where Paul Gauguin lived and painted. The setting is nestled among the hibiscus trees and Australian pine trees. The warmth of the people emanates from everyone in the countryside and it is easy to see why Gauguin was inspired with his painting here.
Throughout Tahiti there are Marae, sacred sites guarded by Tikis that can be visited. We were warned that these are still sacred sites and it is forbidden to climb on them. The Marae are the roots of Polynesian society and have existed since these islands were populated over 1,600 years ago. They are the link between God and man and man and earth. It is upon these sites where one obtains Mana. Of course human sacrifice always gave the society Mana but we didn't see any of that during our visit!
We had a nice reception with the mayor of Tahiti and the Tahitian dancers put on a great show for us. We don't think that dance lessons will help us dance as well as they did!
During our stay the traditional sailing canoes made landfall at the Quay, where we were berthed. They sailed in from New Zealand, tracing the routes of their ancestors. The sound of drums filled the air and the dancing girls welcomed the wayward sailors back home. It was quite a sight!
We stocked up on French wine, cheeses, baguettes, and pate before it was time to sail onward to the next island, Moorea. There was another pass to sail through to arrive in Cooks Bay and we only took a little water into the cockpit on that entrance.
Now we are anchored at the head of Cooks Bay, named after Captain Cook of course. Moorea is vastly different from Tahiti; the pace is much slower, the island has far fewer people and the soaring peaks dominate the skyline.
Here we have Wifi on the boat and a calm anchorage so that Steve can work on both the boat and his geophysical projects. Maria learned how to make a Polynesian crown of flowers, and also learned how to tie a pareo, the typical dress in French Polynesia.
Polynesia is the birth place of tattooing and the chiefs and high priests were highly decorated with these works of art. Steve and Maria haven't taken their place among high society yet!
We have posted more pictures on our blog too (see address below).
Sail on sail on Aspen...
Steve and Maria