May celebrations

Monday May 17th marked the end of the season of abundance in the Polynesian calendar 'tau matari'i i raro', it was the day that the Pleiades set at the same time as the sun, and so disappeared from our night sky, we celebrated their rising back in november. This marks the start of the season of 'sharing' - a time when the communally harvested and stored food supplies would have been shared. Though frankly it's all relative, we still seem to have quite a bit of fruit here and there's always fish to be had! However, the weather is definitely cooler now and the nights are drawing in here in Rurutu, for the past few weeks we've been dipping below 20ÂșC which is pretty darned cool for here. Matotea's been wearing socks! I'm actually enjoying the cooler weather, particularly with the ever-expanding bump. Far from being the start of lean-times for us, it signals the very beginning of the busy season, this last week was a school holiday and we had a couple of families staying with us for a few days, keeping us on our toes! The month of May also marks a month of celebration in Rurutu, linked to the omnipresent protestant church - it's a time when the annual contributions to the church are collected and people are expected to spruce up their houses and deck themselves out in a new set of clothes (and of course a new hat - it's the busiest time of year for my mother in law who makes fine church hats by the dozen, mostly from niau, a beautiful white coconut fiber).

The celebrations are held over three weeks, each week one of the villages celebrates with a vigil, an all-night sing-a-thon followed by a day of reveling, visiting each of the houses in the villages, enjoying food and drink provided by the owners and admiring the fineries that are laid out.

Viriamu's grandma is particularly keen on this celebration and despite being in her eighties she is a vigorous little lady, who insists on new curtains and a clean coat of paint for the house each May! It also signals a time of year when large Tahitian ovens would have been prepared to cook 'ti roots (this traditional Polynesian plant has tap roots that make a good substitute for sugar or honey - when cooked slowly in a Tahitian oven for a week or so), and is still a time when pi'a is prepared (better known as po'e in tahitian), a sticky sweet substance made from roots, such as taro or ape (elephant's ear - Alocasia macrorrhizos), or alternatively with fruits such as papaya, banana, coconut or pumpkin, pulped and mixed with tapioca flour. The pi'a is then wrapped in 'ti leaves and cooked slowly in the Tahitian oven for at least 48h, it can also be steamed, but both the texture and taste are very different when it's been cooked in the ground.


Little friends!

Matotea and Elsa having fun throwing stones at the beach last week!

On thursday I had yet another prenatal visit, but this time, despite the fidgeting, it was clear that this next baby is another girl - just a rather large and fidgety one! Matotea is rather excited by the idea that she might be going to have a little friend to play with........though I suspect that she thinks that the baby is going to come out the same size and shape as her little friend Elsa! After just three days together, Matotea was heart-broken when Elsa left, even if things were not always harmonious while she was here - the reality of sharing ones toys was often a rather bitter and noisy pill to take!


Welcome Grace Isabella Claridge!

On May 4th around 2pm GMT Grace Isabella Claridge was born in a hospital in Belgium, far away from us here in Rurutu, but still my brother and his growing family remain in our hearts and minds. I am now an aunty for the second time (on my side of the family) and Matotea has a new cousin (that makes a total of eight first cousins now...). Congratulations to everyone!

She was a wee thing at just 2.3kg, but by all accounts she's doing well and growing fast.

It's just another little reminder of the big change that we're expecting in the next few months. I'm still feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension about the whole thing......particularly as we are enjoying a dose of double-trouble toddlers at the moment. I have a friend and colleague staying here for a few days, with her daughter, who is just a few weeks younger than Matotea - it's a lot of fun, but also a lot of work!!!!


Sunday Blog

It's sunday morning and I'm feeling lazy today, the sun is finally out, after almost a week of rain and it's just nice sitting here staring at the coconut-grove behind the house. Matotea is busy filling a thermos flask with puzzle pieces here at my feet (no, it's best not to ask!). I'm busy working on a website/blog for the guesthouse, so feel free to check out www.teautamatea.blogspot.com I'll be adding more pages and pictures very soon, but for now I think I might just kick-back with a nice cup of vanilla tea and enjoy that sunday feeling!