Forced vacation time!

It is, once again, school holidays, but instead of being busy with guests we find ourselves absolutely free …….what a refreshing change ! It is usually quiet in May but that’s not it, AirTahiti's are, in fact, on strike, and of course the flights to the Austral islands are the first to be canceled ! So, for the past week there have been no visitors.

It has its advantages, we have had some free time with the kids – Matotea is getting a few riding lessons from her dad. And of course Heimana and especially Amaiterai want to join in too !

We can also work a bit on our kitchen renovations in peace. Viriamu’s pouring the floor of my new improved « office » as I write. We also got to attend a family wedding over the last weekend (more about that in another post).

However, we do still need to pay the bills, just like the guys at AirTahiti, and we don’t have a retirement fund or paid « holidays », so without flights we aren’t going to get by very easily ! On a broader level the whole island is rather dependent on our air link, to get to and from Tahiti, for medicines, medical evacuees and the post service. Only a strike of the cargo boat would be more debilitating.


A flora of Rurutu and the Australs

An old field colleague, and excellent field botanist Jean-Francois Butaud(below left, in Rimatara 2004, photo: R.Englund) has just produced a flora of the Austral Islands (except Rapa, which is clearly a distinct entity), published by the Direction de l'Environnement in Tahiti in french, though it's nicely illustrated with photos and will be a great addition to our little library! It's also downloadable here (or so I'm told, our internet is really not up to it!).



One of the things I love about Polynesia is that we really don't sweat the big stuff, or the little stuff for that matter. In fact we do our best to stay pretty zen, in the moment at all times. A lesson for us all.......But, the down side is that sometimes, trying to get things done can really feel a lot like swimming through a huge vat of treacle! And quite often you don't always feel like things are really thought through - we get a bit caught up in the grandeur of the moment, without seeing the nitty gritty of annoying details. The example we all like to quote in Rurutu is the cargo boat, the Tuhaa Pae - the old boat actually used to come into the Harbour in Moerai, it looked a bit like a floating cardboard box, but it did it's job. The new Tuhaa Pae, which was designed and built by the company, much larger and flashier than the old one, is big and beautiful and modeled on the Aranui (a boat which supplies the Marquesas, yes, we have archipelago envy as well!), however, it does not fit through the pass in Moerai, and it's touch and go in Tubuai. So now we have big fancy containers for shipping our goods, but they do a precarious dance with the cranes trying to unload the unwieldy boxes onto the barge that deposits them on the quay! It is now up to us on Rurutu to dredge the Harbour, or worse still re-dynamite the pass - not a great solution or a cheap option! We're told they did it for the 'tax relief', it had to be a certain size to benefit from financial aid proposed for tourism projects BUT the boat is not allowed to carry large amounts of fuel as well as tourists. We need diesel, more than we need tourists, as our famously windy and sunny island is 100% reliant on fossil fuels for generating the electricity on the grid, and we all have thirsty cars...... so no tourists, just a boat too big for the pass!

Now, the same kind of issue is arising with internet. Two years ago it worked very well, I was positively ecstatic when we got DSL here! But since they introduced 'higher' speed internet (an offer that quickly saturated the network, even before we were offered access here in Vitaria, where we live) there are days when you can hardly connect at all, and surfing the net is nearly impossible - Hrrumph, it's enough to make me grumpy! It also makes it complicated to blog. And this is all since the "magical" optic cable Honotua reached Tahiti from Hawaii, a technological advance that was supposed to bring us up to speed with our larger Pacific neighbors! Now we are told to be patient and wait until the cable makes it to the Tuamotus and Marquesas, that way we in the Australs get more bandwidth on the satellite! We'
re getting there, we're getting there, slowly, slowly! Be zen!


Changing faces

I imagine you are all pretty bored of seeing endless cute pictures of the kids, but I do think it's fun to see how they change over time, and the variety of headwear also - some more successful than others!