Thursday, July 5, 2012

Canada Day with a Moorean Family

This post is by Rani... 

We met them on the beach - a young family sunning and swimming in the public park close to our anchorage. Ropa works at the Hilton resort as a sous chef and his beautiful wife Menita looks after their children. Menita is also a professional musician, with a lovely voice. We had picked up a small breadfruit (or uru) on our walk and we told them how much we enjoyed making fries with it. Menita laughed. “It is only a baby – no good for cooking!”, she told us and whispered a few words in Ropa's ear. He drove off in his pick-up and soon returned with several large breadfruit and papayas. Thus began our friendship.

Menita at the helm with and Ahei


We rowed back to Ladybug and returned with some Mexican snacks for them to taste – tostados with guacamole and salsa. They found the salsa hot, but even their little girl, Ahei, seemed to enjoy the impromptu picnic. They asked us many questions and we decided it would be fun to show them a little of our lifestyle. So we invited them for a day sail on Sunday morning.

Menita and Ropa made themselves at home in the galley

Ropa opens a drinking nut

On Sunday (Canada Day), Chris met them on the beach. They arrived heavily laden with bags of coconuts and a bucket of manioc, taro and uru. Apparently they had been up since 5am cooking the food and husking and shredding the coconuts for drinking and eating. Once on board, Ropa was set to work hauling up the anchor, while Menita and Ahei toured Ladybug and took dozens of photos with their cell phone.

There was a nice breeze blowing, so we put up the sails as quickly as possible and headed out through the pass. They took turns steering past the buoys, while Chris instructed them on some of the dangers of sailing. It was tempting to speak only English, because both Ropa and Menita speak some English, but we made the effort to talk in French as much as possible. Chris told me afterward that his brain ached from speaking French all afternoon.

With the full jib unfurled we tacked towards Cook's Bay at a good speed. Ladybug heeled and the girls tucked themselves in the corner of the cockpit while Ropa steered. They could not be induced to go on deck, even for a photo! Chris shortened the jib so we could enjoy the scenery at a slower pace – the lush mountains of Moorea with the surf on the reef in the foreground. “C'est tres joli!” was an oft repeated phrase.

Polynesian feast on ladybug

Rani with little Ahei

We anchored in the turquoise waters off a lagoon just inside Cook's Bay for lunch. Ropa demonstrated how to squeeze milk from shredded coconut using a handkerchief and brute strength. Menita fried up a can of corned beef with onions. We ate with our hands, breaking off a large chunk of each food and dipping it in coconut milk. According to Chris the corned beef combined with breadfruit was quite delicious. I found the taro a little too heavy for my taste but enjoyed the sweet flavour of manioc and breadfruit. My papaya salsa was the only spicy addition to the traditional fare.

Menita learns how to raise the anchor

Menita and Chris with Moorea in the background

We remarked that this was a feast, but they told us that this is the way they eat every Sunday when their extended family gathers. In addition to the food we were eating, Polynesians add poisson cru (raw marinated fish), roasted pig, and chicken. They have this for breakfast, lunch and supper on Sunday. In between meals they enjoy a siesta. After we finished our lunch, I could well understand why they needed a lie down between meals!

Ferry to shore

We returned to Opunohu Bay for dessert – papaya dipped in shredded coconut. Chris ferried our guests to the beach just as the first drops of rain began to fall. Our timing for a change was excellent as the rain pelted down for much of the evening.

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