North Gambier Islands - Pictures

Probably you slowly get bored, but blue ocean is all I can take pictures of right now....Here some new shots. We went back to Rikitea / Mangareva today and watched the practicing of 2 of 3 Mangrarevan groups for the competition in the local music/dance tonight. Fun. I forgot the name of the competition, but it takes place on all islands in July and usually the winners of each island then go to Tahiti to compete. Unfortunately the winner from Mangareva does not travel anywhere, but they are practicing hard anyways. Almost every night for 3 months!

At the aiport, waiting for Sebastian
 Our crew with the new T-Shirts:

 Just above the black calm water you see a silhouette in the sunset: waves at the riff, where wind against the wave direction blows the top of the waves back

 A stingray (Stachelrochen): looks like an UFO - unidentified fish object ;-) - just as it starts its engines
 and then takes off
 It's the biggest I've ever seen, and the closest. I was only about 4m away.

 Marcus caught a wondeful fish with the new fake fish - a gift from Sebastian
 This fish serves us for 3 dinners. Already had 2: filets on the grill and today a fish curry that Sebastian cooked. Yummy


Christmas and birthday on one day

Yesterday Marcus and I left Rikitea again to head for my favourite swimming and snorkling spot to enjoy the peace there again. We went snorkling in my big "aquarium" yesterday and I went swimming in the morning before we headed off to the airport (20 min drive) to pick up Marcus' friend Sebastian. That for sure is a unique experience. There are not many places in the world where you can pick up people with your boat. That is sooo cool. We "parked" Alita to the right of the little harbour in a nice swimming pool again and wiated for the plane. The plane landed right behind our boat and that made us jump into the Dinghy and drive over to the little harbour, where the ferry was already tied to the pier. Actually the only way to enter the airport is via this pier, so you can only get there with and leave by boat. Sebastian was quite thrilled when he got out of the plane and saw Alita in the water waiting. There was another boat, a catamaran, who picked up visitors as well.

Sebastian had quite a trip to here: 31 hrs from Munich to Papeete, one day there so visit one of the first 5 hot surfing spots in the world and early this morning he left to come here with one short stop-over on another island where they could go to the beach while waiting. Well, he'll be with us for 2 months, so it's worth the trip...At the airport the baggage is being delivered on a table. Very funny. As soon as we were on board Sebastian started to unpack his little bag. Amazing, how much stuff he pulled out of there, about half this bag full of stuff we had ordered and gifts for us. Fishing equipment for Marcus, some spare parts for Alita, a new keyboard for the computer, a new polarizer filter and a lens cap for my camera and, a big and wonderful surprise, Classic Guitar strings and Alita-T-Shirts for all of us: Skipper Marcus, Skiperess Michaela and Prawler (Herumtreiber) Pone. I'll upload pictures when we're back in Rikitea on Friday. I love these shirts, had been wanting to have some made but did not have the time last year to make the design. So this is a wonderful surprise, we're all wearing them right now on our first evening. Next thing we know was Sebastian jumping into the water, the first time in the pacific waters. You should have seen his happy face. While he was in the water I prepared fruits to be able to offer some fresh vitamins. A wonderful day, especially when you have a new guest enjoying the beauty here. Sebastian is especially impressed by the blue colours of the water, no wonder.

From the airport we went back to my favourite anchorage, Sebastian and I went swimming / snorkling a bit and then we had dinner with a wonderfully dramatic sunset. Perfect for a first day of a visitor...Now it's music time. Sebastian changed the strings on the guitar (the ones I had put on were country guitar strings) and is now playing. Now we can be creative to make music with him on the guitar, me playing the echo harp and Marcus has to play the rhythm egg Sebstian also brought with him ;-)...Another happy day in paradise.

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Community day

It’s for days like this that I am travelling those thousands of miles on the water. A day where I was able to witness the comfort and love of a community in a distant island. A day in which I experienced the generosity of a lonely elderly man in connection with his joy for having company and cooking for them, and in which I experienced seeing his eyes light up with happiness as he took the first bite of my apple pie. A day with beautiful weather and calm seas to lay down and look into a gorgeous sky full of stars.

In the morning at 9am, after having put dirty clothes into Fritz’s washing machine, I went to church to participate in the most important weekly event of the community of this island. Only at Christmas at home would I see so many people go to church. When I arrived a couple of minutes before 9 the choir was already singing. Entering the church a cold shower ran down my back from hearing them sing, it was so beautiful. Their naturally different, full voices themselves already give a beautiful harmony in the choir. Most churches I know would envy this church here for its choir, especially since the choir is added by the rest of the people in the church. Sitting there and listening to their singing prayers in Polynesian was very touching. Most of the time during this 1,5 hr service was used for singing. The rest was prayers in French, some communion and twice a speech of the pastor. In the first he wanted to draw the community’s attention to the fact that we’re only strong in the group, a lot stronger than as individuals. In the second he talked about problems in the community. The problem is not the others, it’s you and me.  Meaning we should look after each other, stop fighting each other and become a vivid group with respect towards each other. Anyway. Most people were dressed nice, but not as many as I expected. I had heard women wear hats, but only 4 did. The “good” clothing here is colorful, just as I like it. I took some pictures so you can get an impression of the islanders.

When we came to Fritz’ home, he and Regina were already preparing lunch. Vegetables, Schnitzel, Ceviche from fresh Bonito fish, potato. Quickly I found my place in the kitchen to fulfill Fritz’s biggest wish: an apple pie. I chose a classic recipe from my mom’s cookbook I carry with my on board and added a personal touch: some Rum and cinnamon in the “Streusel”, crumbles of wheat, butter and sugar which cover the cake. I have never made the cake like this, especially not without any measuring device, so I had to guess the amounts to be used. But the cake turned out to be very good. So good, that Fritz, who had cooked for us but not eaten with us, just allowed us a little piece each and has reserved the rest of the cake for himself. I am happy about that, I was able to fulfill his wish. He said “it’s just like home”, like his mother used to do it and like his sister has made it for him the last time 10 years ago. It made me happy to see him happy. We had a wonderful lunch all together (with Regine and Michael from the boat “Anico” (SYAnico.blogspot.com)) and went back to our boats in the afternoon with full stomaches and Marcus and I with all our washing done. 

No dinner cooking necessary. Til way after sunset I made my ballet and Jazz exercises enjoying the calm seas and warm night. Streching on the deck I looked up to the sky and here it was again, the beautiful sky of a million stars which I have come to love so much on this whole trip. If you’ve never had a clear night out in the desert or out on the ocean, without any background light, you have missed the most beautiful night skies so far….Under this sky, Marcus and I shared and enjoyed a coconut which Marcus had opened – one I freshly got 3 days ago. Soooooo good. Now I am looking forward to another night where I will sleep outside on my air bed. It’s already my fourth night out. Last night I moved out in the middle of the night -too warm down here and a mosquito bugged me.
Here are some pictures from today. Enjoy. 

 Traditional hat- with many flowers

Too bad I can't get a clear picture of the stars, I need a longs shutter speed and even at the quietest moments there is some movement in the boat...


Drift through snorkling (Schnorcheln im Vorbeitreiben) and other strange happenings

We just came back from almost 4 days of relaxing and enjoying the beautiful reefs and its inhabitans. We left on wednesday morning after the morning practice of the girl on the boat which was next to ours (she has a line hanging down from the forestay and does the ballet on the line hanging down – nice to watch during breakfast ;-)) and sailed back to our beautiful little island. 

There, Marcus had the fastest catch of fish I have ever seen. He put the fishing rod with old cheese from Easter Island into the water and 5 seconds later he had a fish for his BBQ dinner. Amazing. Marcus was VERY happy. Next morning the sea had calmed down a bit and it was low tide. We used the chance of a bit more shell-sand on the beach to play paddle tennis, which ended up being a test how much leather-like our soles of the feet are already. The “sand” of the island are all very small pieces of shells, yet big enough you can pick up every piece, like very small stones. Running over this sand is like sanding your feet with very rough sand paper. To make it a bit more challenging, there are even a lot bigger pieces of shells and dead corals in the sand. Acupressure massage on the feet. Well, we can still walk ;-) 
Later we tried to snorkel a bit but the current was so strong that we could hardly hold ourselves at the reef, so we went back to the boat. That evening, in the sunset, we BBQ’s sausages and for the first time in my life I ate “bread fruit” (I don’t know the English expression). A big green, almost round, vegetable with white dots on the shell which grows on trees and after cooking tastes like sweet potatoes, almost like Yuca. You peel the thick skin off and then cook it in water. I prepared it like a bavarian potato salad and it worked great!!

Yesterday we changed our position to a chain of islands, all connected by sandbanks, north of the airport. I LOVED it there, we finally found my big bathing tub. A huge area of turquoise colored ocean, where I was finally able to SWIM a distance and not just snorkel or stay at one place. But, we also did snorkel quite some time yesterday and I again today. What was so funny there? The sandbank / reef parts in between the islands have a good stream from outside the atoll to inside the atoll, especially at high tide coming in. We walked towards the outside and then just laid in the water with our mask and snorkel with no movement necessary. We drifted to the inside end of this reef, floating over this beautiful underwater scenery, which looks as if someone had put oriental gardens with bonsai trees and mushrooms under water. We saw different shells, riffs, corals (I love the purple one), sea cucumbers, crabs and much more. A whole different world. It is like swimming in a huge aquarium, tons of fish around you in the most beautiful colors. In the meantime I have even lost my fear of the little sharks, since now I know they swim away if they see you. My favourite are the big rainbow colored fish (parrot fish). They come in large groups, but they are shy – in contrary to the little blue fish, which are more curious. And, there were no jellyfish (Quallen). Did I ever tell you this? On the first day after we arrived here, Alita was just cleaned and the motor back in order when Marcus had the watermaker running. All of a sudden I hear a strange noise from the watermaker, we had to turn it off. Maybe something in the filter? I joked and said, maybe a jellyfish? You know the answer. Yes, indeed. The yellyfish came so close to the boat and to the inlet of the watermaker that the watermaker had indeed sucked one in. Having seen and touched this gelatine like transparent mass in the filter I now understand why you call it “jellyfish” in English. It is like jelly, only I would not want to eat it… 

This afternoon, in some light rain, we came back to Mangareva because we wanted to eat Pizza tonight and I am going to church tomorrow morning. Oh well, here on this island people have too much money, no need to do much. Pizza place closed, so is the only other restaurant. All sailors (and there are many here right now) stood in front of closed doors. You can’t buy vegetables here, shops are hardly open, baguette only in the morning, ….people live well here. Most of them work in the black pearl industry, most men diving. They are definitely not prepared for tourism, which on the other hand is good, everything stays original and there is no crime here. For the first time, I feel really safe in a place, I even already slept outside on deck twice already because I wanted to fall asleep under this beautiful star sky. 

Tomorrow after church we have a cooking party with the other germans at the older guy’s TransOcean Club house. I will make an apple cake – the wish of the Fritz. He plays old german songs all day long, for sure he’ll play the song “Micaela”.  
So long, here are some pix of the last days. The rest can be found added in the photo gallery of the “Iles de Gambier”. 

 A shark

The girl dancing in the boat

 Isn't he just too cute???