Journée de la Mer

The day after the tsunami was international Ocean Day! Our environmental association put on a display of posters and went into the local schools to talk about why it's important to protect our oceans, we also had Elie and Frere Maxime here with us to help spread the word, they are environmental activists from Tahiti and are here to help us get the ball rolling.
In particular, we're concerned about the whales here in Rurutu, French Polynesia is one of the few places where you can actually swim with whales, and as Rurutu is particularly well blessed with whales, the island attracts a fair number of visitors who come especially for the whales, but the activity is not regulated (or at least the rules are not enforced). It's both important from an economic and an environmental perspective to protect the whales, to insure that they continue to return to our waters, year after year. This year has been a rather disappointing year for the whales, they weren't so numerous and kept leaving for several days at a time - this coincides with heavy work being carried out on our harbor, it seems quite likely that the vibrations caused by the pneumatic drills could have scared the whales. Likewise the fact that the whaleboats themselves do not respect the rules of approach (you should cut your motor at 50m distance and never approach within 30m), they often approach the whales to within a few meters without cutting the motor, which is a great experience for the visitor, but could easily be upsetting our whales. But as no one really monitors the whales, we don't really know why some years are better than others.



Today was quite an eventful day here on our island, around 10am we got a red alert Tsunami warning, there was a siren that went off and everything! However it was not until some time after 11am that we actually got confirmation of the potential tsunami danger......there had been a reasonable sized earthquake in Samoa earlier in the morning (Samoa was the region worst hit, with a 4m wave and about 100 dead). It's a funny kind of feeling waiting for the wave to come, it was only expected to be in the region of 90cm here in Rurutu, but still we weren't quite sure whether we should pack our bags and head for the hills! My mother in law was most concerned about the bikes left out front of the house! I didn't really know what to do, my first impulse was to go down on to the beach to wait and try to take pictures. Matotea got sent home from school...
...not quite sure why, maybe so we could spend our last few moments together as a family, or for liability. Anyway as it turned out there wasn't too much to see and by 3pm we were in the clear. But it does make you wonder what you really could have done, if it had been a big one. Actually the chances are pretty slim that we'd get anything much over a couple of meters, being as we are slap bang in the middle of a fairly flat piece of ocean floor. And we can count our blessings - at least we don't live in the Tuamotus where even a 2m tsunami could be enough to cause some serious trouble. The only advice offered to those folks living on an atoll was to find the highest point possible and pray, short of shimmying up a coconut palm (which might be more hazardous than braving the tsunami) you'd be pretty hard pressed to escape......living on an island is kind of funny like that, there really is no escape, so you might just as well relax and take life as it comes!


September Rush

We're just emerging out from under a crazy few weeks, chock full of guests. It's always like this in september what with the whales being here combined with the school holidays in Tahiti, but this year with the added bonus of a young baby in the house and jealous sister, it's been quite a season! It's actually been a really good season for us and the house has been at max capacity for the past few weeks. We celebrated the end of the big rush with a ma'a tahiti (tahitian oven). It's been a while since we did one, so it was fun, I always enjoy the kind of festive side of entertaining a whole bunch of people (we were 18 at table yesterday) and the tahitian oven is a little bit like Christmas, the night before you bury all the food in the ground and hey presto the next day you get to dig it all up and unwrap it, then stuff yourself silly and get a bit tipsy on tropical punch! After all the excitement I'm looking forward to things calming down a little bit.....we all deserve a bit of a rest!


My beautiful daughter

Here is a lovely photo sent to us by one of our guests - how gorgeous is Matotea?



Heimana has her two month check-up tomorrow, she's not quite two months, but she's already grown up a lot and now little bubbles of personality have started to break to the surface. She has a beautiful smile (it shines through from the inside mostly, though she is mastering a reasonable grin)..

...she loves to play....watching people wiggle their fingers in front of her eyes makes her almost pass out with pleasure, her whole body shakes, we even got a few gurgles yesterday. It quite different than from with Matotea. I guess every baby is a bit different, or maybe it's just 'cause I've already done it once, but she seems much easier to read and more responsive. Looking back over Matotea's pictures it's amazing how similar they both look, Viriamu can hardly tell them apart!

Both of them are/were able to mimic facial expressions at this stage (it's a common phenomenon that I first read about in Dr. Sear's Baby Book - and it really is true!). I spent hours teaching Matotea to stick out her tongue when she was about two months, and she was able to do it, and I can see Heimana trying to copy me now too. It's so much fun having kids (in between all the sleepless nights and dirty nappies)!


Feeling better!

Well, we finally seem to have got the flu out of our systems here. Heimana remains the least effected by the whole business. Matotea is back in school and bright as a button again. I got a secondary bout of sinusitis after the flu, so was probably the sickest, but finally the sickness seems to have left us. The Medical Center is also remarkably quiet now, so finger-crossed that the wave has passed!