2008-06-27 to 07-03-08 Friday to Thursday
The tourism department of French Polynesia goes all-out to welcome sailors each year and sponsor the
Tahiti to Moorea Rendevous. The Rendevous is like a rally in that boats
“race” across from Papeete Harbor to a tiny bay on the eastern coast of Moorea. This is
only about 10 miles in distance and only takes a couple of hours or less. The Rendevous is also promoted by magazine
Latitude 38 and several other well-known entities in the sailing
community. Last winter we had signed up
with the Yahoo! Group known as the Pacific Puddle Jumpers. The annual fleet of cruisers departing from
Central America enroute to French Polynesia is
known as the puddle jumpers. Almost all
the PPJ folks depart from Mexico
and skip the Galapagos Islands. As you know, we opted to depart from Panama and visit the Galapagos on our way to French Polynesia.
Only 3 of the PPJ group departed from . At any rate, we have all arrived in Panama French Polynesia by now; so it is a good time to have a
There was a song and dance performance at
exhibitors on Friday afternoon. We
received tee-shirts and a pack of tourist literature. There was a large family from the Tuamotu who
performed for us. The men sang and
played instruments while the women danced.
The two youngest men did a few dances.
The men’s dances are totally different from the women’s dances, as you
would expect. They also gave a Blessing
of the Fleet for all of us who were to participate in the rally on Saturday
morning. It was a very Christian prayer
led by the oldest male family member while we all stood in a large circle and
held hands. Then the women sang acapelo
while we continued to hold hands. Their
voices were incredibly beautiful. Would
have loved to get that singing on a short video but could not do that since we
were all holding hands. I did get a few
short videos of their dancing later, but nothing compared to their singing
during the Blessing of the Fleet. Papeete
Then we left those festivities and walked around
for a couple of hours before going to the Skippers’ Briefing and cocktail
party. Met a few new people, all of whom
were from either Papeete Oregon or .
There are a lot of cruisers out here who are from the Pacific Northwest
of the Washington . They basically do a circle of the Pacific by
visiting French Polynesia and then up to USA . Usually they then go up to Hawaii and return to PNW. Others go directly from Alaska Hawaii
to . There was a dinner after the cocktail party
and then dancing, but we opted not to participate in that. San Francisco
Instead, we joined another couple (one of whom was from
) and went to The Roulette. The Roulette is the place to eat in Houston – actually, it is
the only reasonably priced place to eat on this island. Dozens and dozens of food vans congregate
around the outdoor performance area near the tourist center on the edge of Papeete .
They come there each evening. You
can find any type of food that you might want (no Mexican, of course). They had various types of Chinese foods,
sashimi, sushi, pizza, French foods, steaks – you name it. Bill had a veal steak with Roquefort sauce
for less than the price of a McDonald’s hamburger. It was all very good. Papeete Harbor
Unfortunately, both Bill and I caught the cruiser crud from the other couple. There is a respiratory virus going around and we both caught it. That squelched our participation in the rally on Saturday. I was disappointed that we could not attend because we had been looking forward to all the activities. They had outrigger races and a traditional Polynesian lunch cooked in a ground pit on the beach, as well as other silly activities which would have been fun. But neither of us was in any shape to deal with any of that on that particular day. Bill recovered after only 3 days but I am still sick. I developed an upper respiratory infection and am now taking antibiotics from our med kit.
So we have not seen much of Tahiti Nui and absolutely nothing of Tahiti Iti because we were sick. We had wanted to attend one of the Polynesian dance performances at one of the large hotel resorts but just did not feel up to it. As Bill said last night, “here we are in beautiful
Tahiti and we
are sitting on the boat doing nothing – we could do that anywhere – what a
Today we are sailing over to Moorea. Plan is to anchor somewhere in Cook’s Bay if there is room. There probably will not be internet service available in Cook’s Bay, so we won’t be updating the website again soon.
A little about Tahitian Dance:
Like the tattoo, Tahitian dancing was associated with nudity and indecency and the Christian missionaries convinced King Pomare to ban both in 1819. However, unlike tattoo which was documented by sketches by many sailors of that time period, the dances was not documented. So no one really knows much about the ancient Tahitian dances. Only oral tradition has preserved some of the dances. The “renewal” of Tahitian dance dates from the 1950s when a woman named Madeleine Moua and her Heiva group began performed their interpretation of Tahitian dance. This revived interest and grew with the tourist industry that also arrived in
Tahiti since the 1950s. Guess all those sailors who visited Tahiti during WWII went home and talked a lot about this
place, because tourism started growing rapidly after that time.
There are 4 major types of dance in today’s Tahitian dancing. The Otea is performed by men and women and probably was originally a somewhat warlike dance. It is one of the most famous Tahitian dances. The Aparima is a dance wherein the hands mime a story. It is like a pantomime and is usually performed kneeling and accompanied by a band. Singing might also accompany the Aparima. The Hivinau dance is thought to have derived from the English “heave now” that sailors of yesteryear called out while maneuvering the capstan or anchor winch. Male and female dancers move in a circle and a male soloist gives a phrase that the choir takes over. They are accompanied by a band. The Pa’o’a dance seems to come from gestures used in tapa-making. Male and female dancers squat in a semi-circle. A vocal soloist gives a them that the choir answers to. A couple rises and performs a short dance in the half circle while the other dancers chant sounds of “hi” and “ha.” All the dances except the Otea have one thing in common: the feet are kept together and motion radiates from the hips, either slowly or quite fast.
Sorry we didn’t get to see one of the elaborate dance performances while we were in Tahiti Nui. But we can console ourselves with our memories of the Tongan dances at the festival we attended there back in 2002. The dances were probably similar.
BTW, we were in the group photo taken at the Skippers Briefing for the Rendevous. So we might be in a photo in Latittude 38 soon. We were near the back row on the left side of the large group of people.