Friday, May 20, 2016

Tour de Huahine

For the last five years I’ve wanted to rent a motor scooter to explore the islands. Meryl, remembering our epic motor scooter ride around Tahiti 43 years ago where I returned to our hotel with third degree sunburns all over my body (remember, this was our honeymoon night), has been very cool to the idea ever since. So I was ecstatic when she said OK to us renting a scooter ($35 for four hours) for a tour of Huahine.
A little older and hopefully a little wiser, we began our tour of Huahine lathered in sunscreen.
We basically left Fare and headed north on the coast road around the island clockwise.
It was a little difficult to steer and certainly not in the class of my former BMW RT1100 touring bike, but it would do. We headed north of the main town of Fare along the coast road along Lake Fauna Nui to the small village of Maeva where they have reconstructed several marae along the shoreline. Essentially large meeting places with floors of large flat rocks and vertical flat rocks and stone tikis, the marae are places reserved for the ceremonial, cultural, and religious activities of the village. In the early days the marae was a place where the heads of households came to ask for help from their deceased ancestors. The marae were also the place of chiefs and priests, and of the political structure of the island. Officials from the Bishop Museum in Hawaii came and helped excavate and restore the marae to their present condition in the 1950s and 60s. 

A rendition of what the marae looked like in ancient times.

The marae site after reconstruction efforts by locals and the staff of the Bishop Museum in Hawaii.

The interior of the Fare Potee which now serves as a museum for the archeology site.
Fishing traps not much changed since the ancient days of Polynesia.
A large thatched roof house, called the Fare Potee, sits on stilts over the shallow Lake Fauna Nui and serves as a museum housing various artifacts found on the site, including mortars and pestals, fishing implements, and knives.

The late Bobby Holcomb sitting in his house in Maeva Village.
One of the many paintings by Bobby Holcomb.
One of our cruising friends, Steve on Liward, raved about a local guy named Bobby Holcomb, who he described as "the world's true free spirit.' There was a nice display at the Fare Potee about Bobby with examples of some of his art work. Bobby is now passed away, but his memory lives on with the people of Huahine. Bobby is best know as the lyricist for the highly popular Jimmy Buffet song "One Particular Harbor." He was born in Hawaii and was a back-up singer to Frank Zappa. He then traveled through Europe and lived with Salvador Dali where he gained an appreciation for painting. From there he traveled to the Middle East and Africa. A wealthy patron in France paid his fare to Tahiti, telling Bobby that Huahine was his place of destiny. Bobby spent his days in Huahine writing, painting, and being a spiritual beacon for the locals. Bobby had little material wealth but he lived a life beyond anything that money can buy.

The ancient fish wiers on Lake Fauna Nui 
As we continued our ride past the marae's we came upon the ancient fish traps in Lake Fauna Nui that are still used to this day. Shallow rock dams begin in a wide “V” shape and narrow down at the end. Fish enter the large V and eventually end up in nets at the narrow end of the V, a very efficient method of fishing for the locals. 

Further down the road began a very steep ascent up a mountain. I wasn’t sure our poor scooter was going to make but it just kept chugging along until we were at the top where we were treated to a beautiful view of Maroe Bay on the east side of the island. As slow as the ascent was up the mountain, the descent was equally hair-raising given the 14% grade of the road. I wasn’t sure how good the brakes were on the very well used scooter but we made it alive.

Photos of the Maroe Bay community clean-up.
Maybe the Mayor, maybe the President, who knows?
The gang that Shanghai'd us off our scooter. 
Meryl enjoying some really fresh coconut milk.
We crossed a bridge between the large island of Huahine Nui and the small island of Huahine Iti. It was ironic that we both commented as to how clean and beautiful the area along the bay was because just around the bend we were literally pulled off our scooter by what can be best described as the "Maroe Bay welcoming committee." The local community had just completed a clean-up of the district and were celebrating with a street-side party. Everyone came to shake our hand and learn our names and regale us with stories. Of the two guys in the picture, one claimed to be the Mayor and the other the President of French Polynesia, but I'm not sure. They treated us to a table full of local delicacies including fresh bananas, dried bananas, breadfruit chips, taro, and fresh-cut coconut juice with a straw inside. We had a hard time getting them to let us continue on our trip.

This is typical of the views around Huahine with the dark blue navigable water and the shallow sand areas colored baby blue.
We explored the south end of the island with expansive views out over the South Pacific with the deep blue color of the navigable waters and the baby blue of the sand and reef areas. We did go into the baby blue waters at times but you really have to keep a sharp look out for bommies and reefs.

We ran into a young French woman with two kids on a scooter who flagged us down. Her scooter wasn’t working and she wanted us to go ahead and find her husband (on another scooter that wasn’t working when we first passed them on the bridge). We finally connected with him and hopefully the family was reunited. Amazingly we did all that without speaking a word of French.

Back in town we ran into Steve and Lili from Liward with an Australian lady named Libby who is backpacking through the islands. We had lunch and chatted for awhile before returning to the boat,  a little road weary and in need of a nap.

1 comment:

  1. Walt, I continue to marvel and enjoy the stories of your incredible journeys. Thank you for such comprehensive and well done chronicles. Phil Cogan