Almost all the promotional images you have seen of Tahiti and her islands include the abrupt mounts and bluest lagoons of Porapora. Here the welcome is warm and genuine, the smiles, the hei and the aroa come from a people surrounded by commercial tourism, yet the heart is still of the islands. What is the saying about taking a boy out of the islands...thankfully and surprisingly the island way is still very much alive in Porapora.
Like any small Island you get to meet the characters and personalities of the land. We were honoured to be welcomed by former President and current Mayor of Porapora, Mr Gaston Tang Song. The entire crew were whisked away for lunch at a beautiful motu, a magical introduction to the Island.
The following day the Captains are invited to lunch aboard the 6 star Cruise ship Paul Gauguin, we have a tour of the bridge and then a sumptuous lunch at La Grille on the 8th level around the pool. We lean over the portside rail and view the Va'a tied alongside at Vaitape, the main township. What a transition...from dining on the Va'a deck, eating out of a plastic bowl, trying to keep your salad from blowing away - to sitting at a table, with a table cloth, cloth napkin, selection of cutlery an a smorgasbord of food. Simply amazing. On behalf of the the Va'a Captains, thank you Captain Rajko. Now we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, so I was pleased to have an hour presentation to the Paul Gauguin guests about the voyage and the environmental messages we are carrying.
The same company that operates this cruise boat also operates a hotel, the Intercontinental, on a motu on the other side of the island. Since 2006 this hotel has been using the cool waters from the ocean depths to operate their air conditioning system and in turn have reduced their oil (diesel) generated power consumption by almost 90%. It is this kind of forward thinking that is needed throughout the Pacific and indeed throughout the globe.
On the Vaka we sail using the wind and our electrical needs are supplied from solar. To use another’s words, we are no longer using the dark hellish liquid energy from the bowels of the earth, but the bright clean warm glow from the heavens. It seems entirely logical when put into this context doesn't it?
So here we are heading to my home Island Aitutaki, the Va'a is heavy with gifts of food from our friends in Porapora. We have pompelamous (sweet grapefruit), niu, tiporo lime, Vi Tahiti, Papaya, bananas galore, oranges, apples and some beautiful books from avid photographer Erwin Christian. Erwin was in fact Gaualofas' first contact with Porapora, he was out in his 20 year old 20ft runabout, (it has twin 90's) in his words. "You are late" he calls out "ze ozers are vaiting"...hmmmf... I reply, Gaualofa is never late, she just wishes to make an entrance". And there he was again to bid us farewell on the last day out of Porapora. An Island I must see again.
It’s lunchtime, so I must leave now to help reduce the pile of fruits we have, the remainder of which will have to be dumped at sea before arriving in Aitutaki sometime tomorrow evening.
ka kite apopo