Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Taravai, 19th of January 2018


Leaving the Paradise


Checking out of the Gambier Islands turned out to be a considerably longer process than we had anticipated. On Friday the 12th, when we went to see the gendarmes in Rikitea, their office was closed. It was also closed on Saturday, and when it finally opened on Sunday, the main office in Tahiti that deals with the clearance documents, was closed. So, instead of leaving on the 13th as we had intended, we did not depart until the 19th, the additional delay being due to our decision to wait for more favorable winds before commencing our long voyage to Chile. 


We were at anchor in front of the village on the island of Taravai which we hadn’t visited earlier. The village grounds were like a magnificent orchard gone wild, with avocado, banana, chirimoya, citrus, lychee, mango and papaya trees lining and arching over the footpath that ran parallel to the shoreline. Along the path stood a church, somewhat neglected but still beautiful, dating back to the 1820’s. The entire place had a lovely, old-world feeling about it. 


We spent the few days we still had left of our time in the Gambier Islands swimming, snorkelling, studying the GRIP files in great detail, and trying to defeat Valerie, Ervin and their son Ariki, one of the three island families, in p├ętanque. Although we were clearly beaten by the Taravaians, the competition, not to mention the company, was most enjoyable all the same!


Before we put to sea, Valerie and Ariki garlanded us with beautiful leis which we threw into the sea while still inside the barrier reef. According to Valerie, our return to the Gambier Islands was thus assured!

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