Daily Ramblings - Monday and Tuesday, September 29th and 30th

Before Captain James Cook arrival, was Huahine a paradise?  Is it only by contrast with the hectic life of the ‘west” that we find the laid back, sustenance life of these islanders a dream?  Did the Tahitians know they lived in paradise?  It was all they knew…abundant fish, fruit, vegetables – warm climate and calm seas protected by stunning coral reefs.

Did the missionaries bring salvation or suffocate a brilliant culture? And as we colonials invade and bring along our conveniences and moneyed economy, do we diminish the very paradise we seek to indulge?  What a contradiction, we are thrilled with our invitation to share a few very incredible days with our new friends in Huahine, but selfishly wonder if others should leave well enough alone. 

None the less, we have celebrated a delightful time in Huahine.

It all began as the pilot and humpback whales ushered us toward the pass in the reef.  Finding a protected Haapu Bay we anchored amongst stunning volcano slopes covered in lush tropical foliage.  Far less populated and developed, the beauty of the life style in Huahine became instantly infectious.

Of course we visited the main village, Fare and found local artisan treasures. We were treated to archeological reclamation of maraes – traditional worship sites where, 200 years ago the local chiefs would hold council and sacrifices were made during special celebrations.  A local pearl farm demonstrated how implants in the oysters result in the coveted black pearls 18 months later.  We shopped for fresh vanilla beans.  And the highlight, a stop at a local stream where huge sacred blue eyed eels are protected and fed.

While snorkeling in the pass Captain Cook entered in his first visit to Huahine we noticed humpback whales frolicking outside the reef.  We quickly boarded our tender and went in search…

This is Martin Murray’s account of what happened next:
Tuesday 30 Sept
We stood on the tender, ten of us, just off the entrance to the atoll on Huahine. A humpback had surfaced and we waited in the footprint she had left, the tension mounting, a cooling breeze soothed us, and then , magic , first one, then another surfaced, the sound and sight of their exhaled breath breaking the silence. Huge animals, forty foot maybe and nine feet wide, just laying there on the surface not twenty feet from our tiny boat, a boat they could have swamped so easily. They dived and resurfaced, this time three showed, two moved left to right on the surface slowly, the water boiling in their wake. The biggest of them then turned toward us swimming just under the surface. We all held our breath, enthralled, and watched  with ooh's and wow's as she slowly, so very slowly,  swam just under the boat, a perfect view of a magnificent creature. What a privilege.

Indeed, it was the most amazing experience, just ten feet below the surface, directly under our tender, glided this mammoth whale.  One flip of the tail and we would have been thrown amuck.

Although we found hundred of birds feeding on bait fish, only Hazel was successful in landing a skip jack.