Entering the lagoon of each atoll is all about timing. Slack tide is the best time, and even then the current be wild to ride! Combine that with extremely shallow coral ledges on either side, and the adventure can be quite thrilling!
We entered Makemo around 7am, and was met by a quaint little town with an old lighthouse.
Homes with ocean view varied from run down metal shacks to brightly painted concrete structures.
After anchoring we decided to get some things done on the boat before exploring the town, and immediately got to work. There has been an annoying leak every time it rains, right outside Mycah’s bedroom door, and she was a woman on a mission to fix it. She removed all silicone from between some decking, then taped it off and applied new material to seal it tight.
We scrubbed the hulls until we were exhausted and dizzy from holding our breath for long periods of time, cleaned inside and did laundry. It is always so satisfying to be productive.
Town was so clean and well manicured, with mostly concrete streets and plenty of coconut palms, breadfruit trees and lemon trees.
Though there were several cars, bicycles are the main mode of transportation. I thought it curious that most of the bikes are three wheelers, but after being there for a short time, realized why: The basket in the back is for transporting children. We saw many adults with infants and toddlers laying in the back, completely content and enjoying the ride.
Young kids were also hauling younger siblings around.
Little kids also peddled around, the bikes huge compared to their little bodies.
Coconut husks are used by some to create privacy fences,
And in some yards, coconuts neatly lay, drying in preparation to prepare and sell as copra.
We found out that the grocery store opened at 5:30am and that fresh baguettes would be available, so Jude, Mycah and I set our alarms to return at that point.
At that early hour, the town was awake and busy. Everyone was out on the bikes and buying hot, fresh baguettes, music was blaring and the streets were filled with smiles, laughter and ‘bonjour’s’. Those that were asleep, had their mattresses out on their porches in the cool air.
Warm baguettes filled trays and stood out in the open for all to reach for. The smell that filled the air was intoxicating and even if someone entered not needing baguettes, they couldn’t help but leave with at least just one.
One of the interesting things we have found in the stores, is canned butter, and it is so delicious!!!
As we walked back to the dinghy, we heard a man calling to us from behind his fence, saying ‘Are you American?’ We told him where we were from, and he asked, ‘would you like some coconuts?’ We told him we’d love some, and walked back into his yard. He introduced himself as Tahi, and opened green coconuts for us to enjoy the delicious water.
He also opened others and fed us the coconut hearts, which are spongy and have such an intense coconut flavor.
After we drank all the coconut water he cut the empty coconuts in half and made us spoons from the husk, so we could each the meat inside. What an amazing breakfast!
We thanked Tahi over and over, and as we were leaving he asked us if we would like to return to his home for what he called, a BQ that night at 6pm. We were planning on leaving in a couple hours for the next island, but felt honored to be invited and told him we’d be there.
The bbq was wonderful. Tahi had prepared chicken on the grill and cooked rice. We brought pasta salad and our friends, Gary and JoAnn, brought potato salad. It was a feast.
Tahi showed us around his home and told us his plans for it.
I loved his kitchen.
Tahi told us that he is retired from the Army, and placed his hat on Aidan’s head and explained all his medals. He’s kind of a big deal!
Tahi also taught us how to catch huge crabs to eat. You pull out a tuft of coconut husk,
and tie it onto the end of a palm frond. The crabs come eat the coconut and you catch them!
Tahi played Danny’s 10 string Teton guitar, and loved it. He has a beautiful voice.
We also listened to Danny and Mycah sing. Tahi asked us if we’d like for him to show us how to fish local style and to find lobster, so we told him we would love it. We made plans to meet the next day for more adventures and lots of learning. The adventures of this tribe continues, and plans for leaving will be pushed back a couple more days.