This will just be a quick update since the last. As you can tell by the amount we are writing we are extremely blessed to have stopped at this wonderful atoll and enjoy the company of these wonderful families.. We have had an amazing time and will often in conversation come back with a "Remember that time when we were in Maupihaa....." We will be leaving here tomorrow for our 600 mile voyage to Suwarrow and I just wanted to finish up our Maupihaa story.
As Chris left off we were going coconut crab hunting, lobstering and egg collecting.... We started our Friday off with going in to get our Copra making lesson and to see where and how the families live. Like we said there are about 21 adults and 4 kids on the island. I think we have been greeted by or waved to by all of them in the 3 days we have been here. Taira really went out of his way to show and tell how they make a living here with the copra making and then showing us the beautiful simplicity of their homes... No electricty, no plumbing except for the garden irrigation line creeping out of the wells located right outside of each of the homes that lead to an outdoor bathroom/shower with 4 open walls made of palm fronds... The houses are made of corrugated tin and palm tree trunks.. with windows that get closed by a board. They typically have a coral floor and just beds inside. Then the kitchen is outside in another open sheltered hut with more corrugated tin and an oil drum for cooking... Even with the simplicity of the homes you find that they are filled with little decors that they have made along the way. Electrica had made beautiful curtains and bed covers and then little soda cans slit down the side for candles and wind toys... They had also cut a pearl bouy in 1/3rds and kept the middle to make a basketball hoop for their little boy. So good for the kids to see this amazing little home that is so warm and well kept and something they are very proud of. They collect the rain water for drinking and cooking and then they use the well water for bathing and doing laundry and dishes... When I say well water it is basically a whole in the ground with the walls lined with rocks about 2 meters deep and I believe the rain is collected in the whole... We were able to give them some of blow up solar lanterns to help with some of the lighting... hopefully it helps a little.
After seeing Tiara's and Electricia's house we decided to go and try to snorkel the pass and collect bird eggs off the north end of the island. So Tiara and Electricia gathered their snorkeling gear (a mask) and a couple towels and some fritters she had made that morning and we headed back down the only sort of dirt road to our boats... Along the way we met Pappi (electricia's father) and he joined our excursion.
We ended up going on Shine down to the other end and anchoring closer to the pass and the birds... Tiara driving the way with Pappi on the front of the boat pointing out expertly each of the coral heads and bouys on the 4 mile drive. On the way Electricia told us of the hurricane that came through a few years ago and wiped out all their homes. The waves were coming over and through the atoll. They had to hang on to the coconut trees so they didn't get swept away... and people say we need to worry about earthquakes... We ended up anchoring just in time for a squall to come thru and then it was time to collect eggs in the rain. Another family joined us for the adventure and we headed down the coral road to the reef where all the birds are. When I say some birds I am talking right out of Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" THEY WERE EVERYWHERE. The kids had a blast finding the eggs which at first seemed hard to find because they are the same color as the coral... but the more you stop and look there is are eggs everywhere... in a football field size area and there were eggs laid with in 2 feet of each other in every direction.. You really had to pay attention to where you stepped. It was beautiful. Since they don't have chickens here they collect and use the tern eggs.
After the easter egg hunt...... it was still too windy and rainy to snorkel the pass so we decided to head back and take a rest before the nights activities of lobstering for the men and coconut crab hunting for the women. We have to wait until it is dark because both of these crustaceans are nocturnal and don't come out until after 7. The boys packed up their dive lights and got on their wetsuits because it is really chilly out there while us girls waited on the beach for the crabs to come out of hiding. After the boys left it was time for the girls to pile in the truck and make our way back down the same road we had traveled earlier that day. When the truck stopped it was a wonderful sight to see Pappi standing there with his headlamp on ready to lead the way. We weren't quite sure what we were looking for but they just said to watch our step (meaning our toes) and the crabs are really big... as he showed us from his elbow to the tips of his fingers and then a circle the size of a basketball... UGH>>. All I could think of is I know these things are called coconut crabs because their pinchers are so lethal and strong they can rip open coconuts... So off we go and head into the woods... Pappi took us into the deepest part of the coconut trees where there is old and rotting branches that have fallen down and the old discarded husks of the coconuts are rotten and falling apart... I am walking along with my little flashlight and trying to keep tabs on Amaia and Alina who is running around trying to keep up with Electricia's little 5 year old boy with no shoes on... and I turn my light to the right and right there a foot away is a giant blue crab about the size of a watermelon... just looking at me. "PAPPI!!!!!" I yelled and he came running over and said yes.... bon bon... These crabs are the most brilliant shades of blue I have ever seen on an animal... They are truly beautiful. When they catch them they quickly step on their backs and then actually grab the crab from the top so the pinchers can't get at them... then they put them in burlap sacks and tie a string around the top... I found out later that my crab was actually one of the smaller ones. Pappi found a much larger one and at the time we didn't have a sack so he tied a string around the body of it with a knot at the top of its back and then hung it on a branch to come back and get it later... When I came back down the path I saw Amaia standing next to the big crab hanging in the tree... I looked at the crab and saw that it was now holding a branch that was about and 1 1/2 in diameter.... I looked at Amaia and she just shrugged and said, "What he just grabbed it"... not that she wasn't playing with it or anything. We ended up catching 3 crabs for our farewell feast for Saturday night...When we got back to their house the boys had already returned to the boat and so we asked if they had caught any lobster. Oh Yes! 20 of them so we were definitely having a feast. In actuality when we caught up with the boys they said they hadn't caught any because they couldn't get the dinghy out to the reef in order to try... it was to dark and their guide couldn't find a pass for the boat... so the 20 lobsters that were caught were all caught by Tino the known fisherman in the family.
It is now Saturday night and I am getting ready to turn out the lights... I ate way to much along with everyone else. The families had put on an amazing array of dishes for us to choose from. Of course the beautiful crabs, lobsters, fish and rice... along with muscles in a coconut cream sauce, pumpkin tapioca desert, poisson crue... and fresh coconut water for each of us.... the kids had a blast with that one drinking straight out of the coconut. Again they wouldn't eat with us but spent the entire time getting us more food and cracking crab legs for us... the hospitality is beyond what I could imagine and the genuine warmth and good humor they have with their wonderful smiles and giggles that are always present... I just kept thinking to myself.. good lord how on earth is all this amazing food prepared on an open Tahitian fire pit. (which is an old oil drum cut in half with a grate over the top). They really put me to shame! Again we left in a timely manner along with the dishes we had prepared so that they would be able to sit and enjoy some of the amazing food they prepared... We kept asking why it is that they would not eat at the same time as us... we had heard that it is a strict polynesian tradition to feed the guests first... but the response we got was from one of the men at the end and pointed to us and said, "just in case... and then proceeded to pretend to throw up" of course laughing the whole time... Hmmmm... not sure if that was really meant to be a funny for all of us or funny for them... Just kidding. As we were leaving they gave us gifts to take with us of coconuts and home made fritters. The most special part was not only the food but they had woven a large basket out of palm leaves for the coconuts and then a sweet little basket for the bread fritters. We enjoyed all of the food immensely, not sick, and had an amazing evening and are now trying to wrap our heads around leaving these amazing islands and wonderful people.
We are now anchored at 16.49.72 Latitude and 153.55.572 Longitude. Our next stop is Suwarrow at 13.10 Latitude and 163 something Longitude.. The winds are a little strong but it is suppose to be a downwind sail with the swells in our favor at 1.5 to 2.5 meters and 10 seconds apart... we will see what it turns out to be but it should be for the most part a decent ride to Suwarrow.
Hugs and love to everyone,
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