Festive times

Christmas is pretty low key here, as is Easter for that matter, I've never quite understood why. But it is a favourite time for weddings, as all and sundry are home to visit - here's one of the weddings. Not a real big traditional deal, but big enough!

Then we headed north to the big city, for a quick dose of Xmas cheer from her highness the uncrowned queen of Tahiti Tracey. A couple of days with the kids and supermarkets.......can't say it was relaxing, but it was certainly a change of pace! Before being back to the grindstone with the guests.




Roland Kaehr - the odyssey of a Swiss gentleman in Rurutu

Back in November we visited a small waterfall and pool, behind the taro fields in Moerai, purportedly the Queen's bathing spot (though after heavy rain, I wouldn't be the first to leap in). It's the first time I'd been there, despite living here for over eight years now. Viriamu told me he used to use the stream as a shortcut with his friends, when he was coming or going to football matches in Moerai as a little boy.

We were visiting the spot with an elderly Swiss museum curator, Roland Kaehr, the editor of a book of memoirs by Eugène Hanni, who visited Rurutu at the end of the nineteenth century. Roland was trying to locate sites from his book. The memoirs tell the exploits of the young Suisse entrepreneur who came to French Polynesia, hoping to make his fortune, he made some money eventually from postcards of pictures he'd taken, he was one of the first to trade vanilla. His impressions and accounts of daily life give an interesting snapshot of life in Rurutu, a while ago, and in particular there are several pencil sketches of everyday life at the "King's court" (where he was staying, as an honoured guest) and scenes from Rurutu that you can still recognise today. The editor was in French Polynesia for the launch of the book at the annual "Salon du livre" (Book Festival).
We enjoyed the visit and the book - published in French by a great local publishing house Haere Po, who have also published an eclectic assortment of other books focused on Polynesia, including a book from a Rurutu authoress. Taaria Walker, is a remarkable old lady and local character, who was born here in Rurutu in 1930, she earned a scholarship to go to school in Tahiti and became the first Rurutu qualified nurse. The book is a funny mishmash of stories, legends and anecdotes, but I love her autobiographical writing about her childhood, and particularly her boat trips to and from school - it was really another world, back then.

In the kitchen

As always I'm busy in the kitchen all year round, and it's a lot of hard work here at the guesthouse, but I hardly ever get fed up of cooking (good job really!). Sometimes when I do start to feel boredom creeping in, then I know it's time to shake things up, new recipes, new ideas or re-visiting forgotten favourites, all do the trick! This year I had fun making pizza-dough with the girls, even if you can't get the good cheese here.

I also had some serious cooking challenges on with long-stay vegetarians and a 'limited' choice of ingredients, but I love the challenge - enter my poi-burgers (poi is a slightly fermented pounded taro purée), this wasn't entirely original, but by gleaning inspiration from the net I managed to perfect these vegetarian burgers, I even made my own burger buns (oh yeah!). I was amazed how delicious they were, just need to have enough coriander in the garden to do them again! I also got inspired to make poi profiteroles too, quite tasty, but more of a novelty trick than anything else, my vanilla poi crémé anglais needs some more work!

Amaiterai, however, doesn't seem to have quite understood the idea of kitchen art!!!!



Le cross!

The much awaited primary school cross-country race day arrived. Matotea and Heimana had been "in training" for the last few days, doing circuits of the house! Both desperately hoped to win a medal, sadly neither made it into the top three, Mato got fourth, Heimana fifth in their respective classes, which is not that bad. Amaiterai, however, came in second, which is hilarious, because apparently for half the race he hadn't actually got the idea of running in a straight line, he was laughing and looking around, until his aunty started shouting at him to run, then he came from behind and got silver! Here he looks just as confused by the medal and certificate as he was by the race!


Nine candles

Matotea celebrated her ninth birthday with a trampoline - I thought it was a bit pricy, getting it shipped over and everything, but I don't regret it for a moment, the kids LOVED it, and we still get a lot of use out of it, without any major mishaps so far!
She also got a fair bit of halloween makeup! (gifts from her friends and cousins, what can I say, her birthday is in October, and there's not so much you can buy in the stores here!)



Little orange bonnet!

Matotea's class have been working on Little Red Riding Hood, and the numerous different version that there are out there, some even turn the story on its head - the wolf being the victim of a bullying little girl! Matotea re-wrote the story, placing it here in Rurutu - Little orange bonnet, who went to visit her Meme in Vitaria, with a basket of taro, meeting a ferocious, grey, man-eating cat and a brave warrior called Amaiterai, who saves the day! The book was illustrated with popup images, another class project.


Celebratory wontons and pickled palm hearts

And there's a lot to celebrate! Wales have made it into the Rugby World Cup quarter finals, I celebrated by making wontons with our leftover sunday BBQ pork and a few other odds and ends!

Another thing to celebrate is that I've got five minutes spare time to write the blog, after almost a year, of not quite blogging. In no small part due to the fact that  Amaiterai has started school, so I am blissfully 'free' to concentrate on the guesthouse!
Spring is in the air, we have flowers on our wedding gift lychee tree (for the first time ever), so hopefully some fruit in december. We're busy, busy, busy with guests - the salon du tourisme in september was the best yet for us. Unfortunately, with a strong El Nino it's really quite cold here, and it seems that the whales move further north, up towards Tahiti, making whalewatching a little more challenging, but it's nearly the end of the season, so that's another thing to celebrate too! Another downside of El Nino is the risk of a super cyclone season this year. There is general panic in Tahiti, but at least it's motivated Viriamu to cut down a few of our older, taller, menacingly close to the house coconut palms - which means: timber, green coconuts for mitihue, lots of coconut palm mulch for the taro fields and palm hearts. I'm trying pickled palm hearts for the first time.
I like raw palm hearts thinly sliced with some balsamic vinaigrette, but after parboiling they are also good and taste a bit like artichoke hearts, today I tried pickling with a few veggies, Philippine-style - it looks pretty good - can't wait to try in a few days time.......


.....Nine months later (and no I'm not pregnant again): Backblogging again

OK, so I feel I need to do a little penance for my broken resolution! Nine months have gone by, and I find myself looking back on the year and wondering where did it all go so fast.....

JANUARY - Saw us all sick here in Rurutu, with the dreaded chikunguniya (if only spelling it were the worst thing about it). Even my poor old dad, who was here on holiday, went down with it. This mosquito-born disease spread across Tahiti over the Christmas holidays, arriving in Rurutu after the New Year, it literally paralyzes you with joint pain and high fever for a short while, and leaves you with arthritic pains for weeks afterwards. Fortunately, we're all finally recovered from that.

FEBRUARY - We did our usual Tahiti hop for the salon du tourisme, leaving the grandparents with the girls in Rurutu, quite a handful for them. We took the little one, who was quite a handful for us too! And even made a quick dash over to Moorea on the ferry, to find our little hut in Pihaena under 2m of brush!!!!!

MARCH - Had its ups and downs, with a heap of guests, but Viriamu wrote off our old rusty blue Mitsubishi at the end of the month - fortunately no-one was badly hurt! And maybe it was a blessing in disguise, as we have now replaced it with a rather flashy, used Toyota Hilux, the kids approve!

APRIL - The guests continued, as did our problems, poor Viriamu was struck down with kidney-stones, extremely painful, but fortunately not life-threatening. He was sent to Tahiti for treatment, leaving me holding the fort! Trying times....

MAY - Saw us homebodies. My passport expired, so I had to get it renewed and sent courrier to Rurutu. But it meant I missed another family trip, following the traces of Viriamu's ancestors in NZ.

JUNE - Saw more problems, this time it was my laptop that exploded, taking with it a fair few documents and the most recent version of our guesthouse calendar, yikes. Fortunately Viriamu was in Tahiti for a first aid course and able to save the day with a new computer, but reconstructing the calendar was a bit of a business, resulting in unannounced guests showing up at the airport - what's next! The summer holidays that's what...

JULY - Heiva was here, and what fun. The cold weather was really here along with lots of anglophone guests - it was really fun sharing our célébrations with everyone, july is getting to be one of my favourite months. Heimana turned six, our horse association put on a show for the opening ceremony, and our village won the dance competition, hurrah for july.

AUGUST - La rentrée, and everyone is happy to be back. Amaiterai has started STP (the very small childrens class!), he's already two and a half so totally ready for it - but some of his younger classmates were a little less convinced. There was still bawling to be heard 3 weeks into the new term. Me, for one, I am just high on my 'new-found' freedom. It's so nice to have some quiet time at home, aaaah, bliss! I'm ready to appreciate them even more by 4 o'clock.

SEPTEMBER - Viriamu and I headed to Tahiti for the september salon en amoureux, that is without the kids, what a luxury break! I also had a couple of extra days in Tahiti to see the optician, because, yep, I need glasses, and boy does the world look clearer with them on. Oh well, we don't get younger do we! Here I am eating lasagne at an italian resto in Papeete, a rare luxury in Rurutu, and the girls favourite dish (maybe second only to pizza).


New Year's Resolution

2015 is here, twelfth night (la galette du roi) and the TERE are all over and done with so there's really no excuse not to get back into the blog, a year of post-maternity (read toddlerhood) leave is enough, not that we are over it yet, but every day Amaiterai is getting more independent and more capable. He talks away nineteen to the dozen in three different languages, he really is quite a big character (and that's saying something in the wake of my two girls). To start back gently into blogging I've decided to back-blog for the last half of 2014! A story for each month.......well it'll be a good start!
The annual Tere (traditional island tour) a test of my flower lei and car decorating skills!