Well Holy Huahine!
Mike Moore gets to grip with P?anque, Spear fishing and Dengue fever
It was a chance meeting with some friends who were sailing their boat from Orcas Island to Huahine where I was heading. I had originally been planning to skip Huahine but I'm glad I didn't.
Huahine is actually two islands separated by a narrow channel (apparently cut by the demi-god Hiro's canoe, why he wasn't looking where he was going I don't really know, although I suspect there were beautiful women involved). The main town of Fare is located on the larger island Huahine-Nui, I headed for Huahine-Iti.
I stayed in a campground which also has some rooms to rent. Traditional Tahitian dwellings are called "fare" (pronounced far-ay), the rooms are all separate buildings. A fare may consist of five or more separate buildings. Each is made with a frame and covered with woven coconut palms applied in layers and overlapped, a real example of sustainable housing well adapted to the climate here. I got a chance to do some weaving of a new roof for one of the buildings, an interesting experience.
The local entertainment is playing p?anque which everyone seems to do endlessly. I think the game is originally from the south of France. It is similar to bowls but played on sand with heavy metal balls. The object is to get closest to a target ball (called the couchette) its also very possible to knock your opponents ball away (or your own I discovered).
After about a week I discovered I could hold my own with the French tourists but definitely not in the same league as the Tahitians. However I'm all ready for my next trip to the south of France.
One day I went out fishing with a Tahitian friend. We were spearfishing with harpoon guns inside the reef. There is something very primitive and stirring about swimming through a reef trying to get close enough to hit a fish with a harpoon that has a range of about two meters. Its very clear that the fish is in his natural element and we humans are really quite awkward in the water (or certainly I am!).
After about a week I decided to head back into town for a few days. I got a lift on a sailboat to Fare from a French solo sailor who had sailed his 27ft boat here from France. I arrived in town just in time to fall sick with dengue fever, the other name for it, breakbone fever is very appropriate. Imagine lying in a pool of sweat from a very high fever, with aches and pains in every joint in your body, and the worst headache you have ever felt so bad that getting up to go to the bathroom is a major experience in nausea.
It is a mosquito borne disease that is epidemic in Raitea right now which is where I'm sure I picked it up. There is no cure only bedrest, so I took it easy for the next week or so, or as easy as I could under the circumstances. Apparently I got off easy, some people had it for 15 days.
I have now returned to the land of the upright and living I'm happy to say. I'll be back in Seattle this week and getting ready for heading to Canada on the boat.
Mike Moore, 6 June, 2001
This is the last of Mike's dispatches from Polynesia.