sabato 15 agosto 2015

Maupiti & Mophelia the perfect unknown

















After a week of rough weather in Bora Bora, finally the Maramu (a typical strong local wind) calms down and lets us sail to the close and mysterious Maupiti. We heard about a heaven on earth, an isolated and preserved paradise that very few people have the chance to discover. Apparently many yachties avoid this island and our next one, Mopelia, because of their ultra-dangerous passes: most of the people are scared of the legendary waves and currents that could easily smash their boat against a shallow, naughty coral reef. Our captain feels confident and, thanks to his skills and the good weather conditions, Lazy Jack enters the Maupiti pass with no problem at all. And... Yes!!! If you're maybe wondering if we are a bit getting used to these beautiful places, well, the answer is: Bingo! Maupiti is an enchanted pearl, a kind of Bora Bora but instead of luxury resorts you'll see fishermen colored tiny houses, instead of the restaurants you'll be invited to drink and eat for free during a local party, instead of the marinas you'll have lots of smiling people to talk with and from which you'll learn that, yes, happiness is real only when shared. After all these gorgeous blue, green, fantastic waters and beaches, the real treasures of these islands are the people and their natural smiles. These uncontaminated waters hide a unique and rare creature you cannot fall in love with at first sight: every morning we are amazed by a solid group of 7 huge mantas, 3 mt wide, they move so elegantly and softly and are not scared of you at all. They know you'll respect them. Polynesians used to call them "the sea devil", because of their black mantel. They just stay around a single rock for hours. It's easy to dive down and lay on the sand not more than a meter close to them. Their big eyes are just following you all the time, we really had the feeling they wanted to know more about us and on the other side we were amazed to spend some minutes face to face with them. This is really the place to be. If we consider all the society islands we visited, Maupiti is definitely the most complete, friendly, colorful, different and organized island. We had also the chance to be there for the annual event: the "heiva". It's a dance competition that involves almost all the island. Anticipated by few days of sport competitions and the ceremony of the 14th of July. I could describe for hours how amazing it was, however I'll tell you only about a very simple thing that happened during the ceremony. We were probably ten tourists in the middle of three or four hundreds locals, listening the chief of the village and bla bla bla. So a nice lady came to everyone of us, just to inform and make sure that we understood that the food and beverage the Maupiti's shire was offering for free to his community, it was also for us. So don't be shy and take everything you want to eat and drink. They were so honored we went to visit them and happy to have us with them in that day. Again the people are really the greatest quality of French Polynesia. We'll be never grateful enough with these persons that showed us Europeans which are the true values after all.

So to thank them for their kindness we spread the news that we were heading to Mopelia, a very isolated island 90 Nm from Maupiti, where only 11 families live. These families are originally from here and they live on fish and copra, the dried coconut pulp that the French government supports with generous financial aids, and they get supplies only once a year from a small cargo boat. Later we'll explain better why a “small” one!

The morning after the party we wake up with three boats full of all kind of goods in front of us: bread, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, rice, cane sugar, water, letters, baskets, dishes, clothes. Lazy Jack is going to be a big cargo full of supplies and surprises for Mopelia's community! We are so happy that somehow we found a way to help these smiling people out. Vahine, the woman who organized this transfer, is also bringing us a little boy that doesn't see his mom since one year and his dad since 5 years!! After a double check with the major of the island, who gives his permission, we welcome on board the cute Taumihau, a 10 years old boy, very strong and with a wonderful smile. Lazy Jack is ready to set sail and face the famous pass in a creative condition: 4 mt waves right against our nose make us shake and jump like hell!!! 2 minutes of fear and we are spit out the pass. That's why we call this the heaven through the doors of hell!

After a sleepless night with 25 knots of wind, heavy rain and solid waves around, we arrive to the remote Mopelia and immediately understand why only a “small” cargo comes once a year and get in that lagoon: the pass is very long and narrow enough to make us wonder... are we really gonna make it??? A lonely ray of sun shows up and lets us see what you'd love to discover while snorkeling... Great and uncontaminated coral heads are everywhere, schools of fish and sharks follow the boat and flow around. After slaloming all the gorgeous but dangerous coral heads, we get close to an enchanted sand bay, where Taumihau's family is already waiting for their most important gift: big hugs and smiles, Hére is the happiest mum in the world right now. She invites us at her house for an opulent dinner to thank us of all the things we brought her and the community. Even if it's raining again, the 11 families of the island are now on the beach recollecting all the goods their relatives in Maupiti sent them. This is a very happy moment for Lazy Jack. The rain forces the tired crew to sleep and chill out a little bit. The day after our arrival, three more boats enter the difficult pass and join us in this idyllic anchorage: Good as Gold with Deana and Malcolm from Canada, Free Spirit with Laurie and Jim from the States and our friends Melinda, Ed, Jade and Gus from Lorien. Hére and Taria, Vahine's son, are organizing a huge dinner for us and invite all the crew of Lorien to join us for the night. Walking along the beach, I spot an octopus and Taumihau's dad grabs it with his hands and puts it directly on the grill with the other 50 lobsters, 7 parrot fish, 12 rosins and 2 x 5kg coconut!!! Alice and I look each at other in the eyes very often that night, we don't need to talk, we are thinking the same thing. For us, bringing all that stuff was nothing, but for them it meant really kind of all.

We check the weather forecasts the next day and realize the time to leave has come. We have 600 nM before Niue Island and a storm approaching in two days. As people that received a big gift, we look at this perfect island again while she disappears under the orange horizon thinking that we couldn't expect anything better than what we had to say goodbye to the French Polynesia.