I nearly missed our turning coming back from the croissant run this Sunday morning because of a big trunk washed up on the beach..... it wasn't there the previous day.
OK, so clearly it doesn't take much to distract me, but it's rather intriguing, where did it come from? We think it could have been a tree washed out to sea by the storm back in Tahiti a month ago. I've been trying to figure out if that works with the ocean currents, and I think it's possible (though am not 100%), there were a few tiny gooseneck barnacles just starting to colonise the trunk. As an aside I've just discovered that in the 16th century the gooseneck barnacle 'tree' was thought to give rise to barnacle geese (before the phenomenon of bird migration was understood).

Anyway this log is a gift from the ocean, much appreciated by the kids ......

As a biologist I worked on a group of weevils that have managed to colonise the remotest islands of Polynesia and even diversify across the Pacific, without having wings or any obvious means of dispersal. It had been suggested that they moved around by hitchhiking on birds, or on drifting vegetation. It always seemed hard to imagine, so it's nice to see some proof of such phenomena(though any living insects would have got a good drenching on this ride). We also frequently find pumice on the beach (a volcanic rock that is light as a feather, produced by explosive volcanic eruptions), again I have no idea where it comes from, though a likely suspect must be the active volcanoes found in Vanuatu (Yasur and Ambrym). This little lump of floating rock must have been on the ocean for a while, long enough to develop several colonies of bryozoans (small encrusting marine invertebrate), not surprising if it is actually from Vanuatu, as it must have done a big tour on the South Pacific Ocean gyre, riding the big circular current before arriving here!


Orero, a revival

 Straight after the birthday extravaganza we launched into the orero competition.
An orero is a Polynesian orator, who recites history and legends, each family here has a designated orero who is responsible for reciting their genealogy. In Rurutu they get to use the skill during traditional wedding celebrations, but now the Ministry of Education has started French Polynesia wide competitions, to promote and preserve this dying art, and also the regional languages that go with it. It's a refreshing change - Viriamu spent much of his time at school in the corridor or corner, punished for speaking Rurutu in class (as a child whose parents didn't speak French he was rather doomed, Rurutu was banned at school, in a similar way to the Welsh language). Now Matotea is encouraged to display her Rurutu language skills, a proud moment for her dad.
This year Matotea was finally selected from her class, after several years of hoping! She was one of two representing Avera (along with one of her best friends). It was both an honor and an ordeal. She had to have the right sort of costume and be word perfect.
Viriamu's mum and my sister-in-law came to the rescue as costumières, Viriamu whipped up an omore (lance), she looked fabulous - if petrified, in front of the huge audience. She came fifth out of thirteen at the competition this morning, just qualifying to go to the Austral Islands final in Tubuai next month. Bravo my little girl. Such fire, such passion!


Turning four

Amai celebrated his fourth birthday on Sunday. Amazingly Viriamu suggested that we have a birthday party (well that was a first)! Generously he proposed that I cook a Sunday roast for the twenty odd people that he invited - so I generously proposed that he do a BBQ instead. Anyway it turned out fine, we made a pinata (well why not, I'd never done that before) and there was LOTS of meat: lamb, chicken, sausages, beef heart kebabs from the grill and a huge vat of goat curry, in true Polynesian style accompanied by starch, starch and more starch - breadfruit, taro, green bananas, sweet potato salad all served with rice.
There were also two cakes, turned out one of our guests was also turning 8 on the same day, happy coincidence! Less happy was the news that the day's flight was cancelled, more rain in Tahiti. Enough to close the runway in Fa'aa, it's the danger of building a runway on reclaimed land! Fortunately there was less damage this time, though being stuck in Rurutu may have taken the shine off for a couple of our guests, particularly those who missed their first day back at school



Chasing onions

Yesterday was a good day, not because of any Valentines surprises (let’s not get crazy now!)– it was as romantic as you can expect life to be with a pressing translation deadline and full house (including nine children, only three my own), school holidays already! It was a good day because the boat came in, carrying materials we bought in Tahiti to continue fixing up the house, a new chainsaw for Viriamu and some fruits and veggies…….oh what joy, carrots, pears and onions. I spend a good part of my life chasing onions, traipsing halfway around the island to find this kitchen staple. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but, it’s been stinking hot these last few weeks. As hot as I have ever known it on Rurutu.  A pressing heat that demotivates and makes tempers fray.  So, over the weekend when onions were nowhere to be found, stocks in Moerai depleted and the stores in Avera closed for that extra-long afternoon nap, I roasted for an hour in the car, hot and sweating, waiting for the shop's doors to magically open, I did get the last handful of rather tatty golden orbs, no less precious to me than gold nugget. Making hopes for a squash gratin and sashimi dinner reality. Don’t even hope for greens or salad, there aren’t any, everyone is too hot to plant them this year, or others say there are too many insect pests – think I need to grow green fingers and get some organic farming tips…. I also need to rediscover my permaculture plans.


Sunday at the salon

It’s the lazy last morning at our Tourism Fair. We’re indulging in our Tahitian Sunday morning ‘gourmet treat’ of roast pork, poisson cru, taro, with pain au chocolat and firi firi (coconut milk doughnuts twisted into a figure eight) from the market, our imported Rurutu coffee and Viriamu’s favourite: breaded pork-feet ! It's sweltering again, yesterday was abysmally hot, we were pretty much steamed alive, today is sunny and clear, already hot but less stifling.
Friday it rained, and our stand flooded, there was mud everywhere - the site is far from ideal. To add insult to injury, there was no internet, or not enough to allow small businesses like ours to have a connection.
But, as usual, our clients were loyal to the rendez-vous. There were slightly fewer than in past years, understandable given the heat, recent flooding and upcoming French elections. We’re grateful to have been able to break even and fill our rooms as much as we did. Now, we can go back to Rurutu, after  a productive few days talking boats. Viriamu has been invited to go on tour of the Austral Islands with the voyaging canoe Fa'afaite , so he's happy to be able to pursue his dreams of following his ancestors.....