Monday, January 10, 2022

12/8/21: Oops - Do-Over of Raiatea Kayak Ride!

I didn't realize until after I hit 'publish' that the post wasn't in fact complete as I had neglected to upload photos I'd taken that day with my phone camera. So, here's the rest of the story!

After dropping off our rental car that morning that Steven and I'd used the previous day to explore all of Raiatea, we had oodles of time on our hands in the island's small town of Uturoa before snagging a ride back to our 'villa' with the property owner's mom who was running errands in town. As always, the vibrant murals caught my attention.

This was one of several traditional places on the waterfront that sold local crafts.

The ferry dock where locals and tourists could get rides to Bora Bora and Taha'a, Raiatea's neighboring island:

We spotted lots of yachts in the large marina near the waterfront as Raiatea is a favorite island for sailors traveling in French Polynesia.

As we waited for Johnny's mom to finish her errands, we must have seen this Mum's Taxi stop in front of the Farmers' Market to pick up or drop off passengers a dozen times. Wow, could I ever understand the concept of being 'Mum's taxi' after having four kids in five schools and in two different school districts at one point!

If you saw the photos about the 'villa' we rented on the island of Raiatea in French Polynesia, you may recall it was pretty barebones. One of the few nice things about the property, however, was that Johnny had several kayaks for guests to use at no additional cost. His property was far from Uturoa so having the kayaks at our disposal gave us something to do that afternoon.

Chris and John: You both were in my mind the entire time we were kayaking that day since you both love to kayak in Grant Ranch Reservoir all summer long!

We had to make sure to dodge coconuts drifting in the current!

Johnny had suggested we kayak up the Faaroa River, the only navigable river in French Polynesia. As the river was a good piece from his property, that seemed pretty daunting initially but we got in the rhythm soon enough. Steven had far more rowing experience than I so he often had to remind me to steer left or steer right when I got us off course!

After reaching the channel, we were in the middle of a dense tropical forest with palm trees that seemed to reach the sky on both sides of the river!

I read that, according to legend, the river would have been the departure point of all Polynesian migrations to Hawaii and New Zealand.

We spotted another kayak on the bank but absolutely no sign of anyone else out on the river or bay the entire time we were out. 

Many of the trees along the river were the same as we'd seen at the botanical garden the day before with the pale yellow blossoms. Several of the flowers had dropped into the river and were still floating there.

Looked like the mangrove swamps we saw in South America but don't hold me to it!

Unfortunately, I got water on the lens of the underwater cameras these were the only halfway decent photos of our enjoyable escape on the water.

I confess to feeling pretty wiped after the kayak ride as I had mistakenly thought I was in decent shape after consistently walking close to 15,000 steps a day and taking hour-long water aerobics classes five days a week when we're home. Sitting on the villa's deck while gazing out at the motu or small islet in the foreground and Raiatea's neighboring island of Taha'a in the background revived me after a while, however!

Later that afternoon, Johnny and about eight of his friends took out one of his large canoes for a very energetic ride. I was just exhausted watching the fast rhythmic pace they kept up.

They reappeared close to three hours later with Johnny telling us they'd rowed most of the way to Uturoa before turning around. He said the group of friends gets together about three times a week for long rides like that.

Next post: A day-long boat tour to neighboring Taha'a which included three snorkeling stops as well as a visit to a vanilla farm, pearl farm, and a rum distillery!

Posted on January 10th, 2022, from the Denver suburb of Littleton. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kazakhstan, a country Steven and I enjoyed visiting a few years ago, as they struggle for civil liberties against the government.

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