With only 3-4 days available for exploration at each remaining island we are developing a more focused technique. Step 1: What is this island known for? Identify the best way to explore it. Step 2: What’s under the water here? Step 3: Where is the grocery store? Usually, these three steps invariably lead us to see a good chunk of the island, meet some new people, and find something unexpected. All three of these highly desirable outcomes occurred in Huahine.
Huahine is known for is sacred blue eyed eels. The locals believe these eels house the spirits of dead ancestors. Rumor has it, the ancestors like to eat canned mackerel and/or sardines. So, our first order of business was to find a rental car to carry us to the sacred eels. We all know finding a rental car can be an 8 hour project, so we started early. This car was easy, though, so we were all locked up for the following day in short order.
Next, we decided to snorkel the reef. We are truly spoiled from our snorkel experience in Fakarava. The coral here in Huahine is covered in algea and other grey plant life. Nonetheless, we find a large moray eel to play with, swim through arches, and find plenty of colorful fish to hold our attention.
That afternoon, Crystal and I were hunting the perfect paero (sarong) when we met two new friends - Gina and Jose on S/V Carthago. We taught Gina a few of our new sarong wrap skills and headed off to the grocery store. We ran into them again at the grocery store, and when they stopped in at Sonrisa to inquire about happy hour, we invited them aboard. We enjoyed dinner and beers with our new friends.
The next morning, we gathered up a few cans of sardines and our Swedish buddy; we headed to shore for our circle tour of Huahine’s two islands.
We enjoyed a lot of beautiful scenery. We took a tour of a marae where we found a wood carved Va’a and a beautiful grass skirt on display. We hunted for seashells, drove up, over and around green covered hillsides, and stopped at several spectacular overlooks. We enjoyed lunch on a beach.
We found the eely-ancestors in a canal on the side of the road. I don't know about you, but if I was an ancestor, I would choose to inhabit eels who enjoy a more scenic area of this beautiful island. But, these blue eyed eels are blind, so maybe the ancestors can’t see anything anyway. We fed the ancestors sardines, pet them and took some photographs. With their blue eyes shining up at us, and their mouths opening into their eel-smile, we decided the eels were worth the trip.
As our final attraction, we were supposed to find another snorkel spot at some other area of the island. Each place we stopped, though, was either murky or subject to a swiftly moving current. The wind was honking and we were feeling a little discouraged about the clarity of the water. The mood dampened as we feared the close of our trip to be a bust.
Then, we remembered the distillery. On the first day in town, we took a walk down the main road and found a liquor distillery. It was closed that Sunday, but maybe it is open now? We head in that direction, to find the doors wide open.
Inside, we find rows and rows of bottles sealed with a special wax seal and a red or yellow ribbon. A French expat in his 50s with his long white hair pulled into a pony tail offers to let us taste his liquors. He hands us a book with countless flavors listed and begins pouring from a series of bottles. “Prend un photo!” …Take a photo, he says, instructing us to focus on our friends’ faces as we try something new. We try all sorts of liquors made with tropical fruits: star fruit, mango, lemon, pamplamousse, dried banana brandy, and coffee mixed with hazelnut and Tahitian vanilla. Almost every liquor was well liked amongst our crowd. Andrew was feeling bent out of shape now that he was the driver and had to watch us partake. I promised him I would buy him a bottle of his choice to drink later.
Pretty soon, we had gathered so many bottles for purchase that our French friend’s wife offered us an extra bottle for free. You know it’s time to stop when they are happy to offer you an extra bottle for free. We returned the car safely, loaded our unused snorkel equipment and our boozy booty into Grin, and returned to Sonrisa to share dinner and our free bottle of “Doux Citron Liquor” — a favorite among us all.
#1: Andrew decided to challenge the Swede to try Tahitian Noni. It isn’t alcoholic, it is the fermented juice of a Noni fruit — which smells and tastes rotten before it is fermented. It is supposed to be very good for you and we bought a bottle back in Nuku Hiva. It’s ….not tasty.
#2: I’m not sure how this came up, but we wanted to learn whether Swedish people can understand the Swedish chef on the Muppets. The answer is no, they cannot. I feel cheated and sold a bill of goods. The Swedish chef is not actually speaking Swedish.