You would think we were smarter than the average bear, but sometimes, no. After 5-days of constant rain we decided we needed to stretch our legs. There was a hike to the top of the ridge of Taravai that had several ascending peaks. We decided to shoot for the first peak and if we were feeling “jiggy” after that we might go to the next one. Ha, that is funny because we did not account for the swamps which quickly turned us into the mud buddies!
It was Leela (Graham and Janicki), Pitufa (Birgit and Christian), and Matt and I. We all met on shore at Edouard’s house. He is one of the 7 inhabitants of this island. He and his wife are the only people who live on the southwest side of the island and they have a huge property. It is amazing to see the ingenious things they have done. Edouard and Denise have the only home in the Gambiers that has a natural water fed source. They have a pipe leading from a waterfall pool, down the hillside, direct to their home. They also have a large solar panel system that provides all the electricity, and a strong breakwater wall to protect their home.
Garden of Eden
Edourd and Denise sustain themselves with their bountiful garden. They have a large green house that is currently being replanted, where they grow tomatoes and cucumbers. In addition, they grow sweet potatoes, lettuce, and mint. They also have an abundance of fruit trees (pomplemouse, avocados, bananas, papaya, mangoes, lemons). We each received bags of fruit for 1000xpf ($10 USD) which included a small stock of plantains, stock of bananas, avocados, lemons, and pomplemouse – a huge score for us!
Our friends on Pitufa knew of a trail that went around the Taravai ridge. Thank goodness Christian led the group with a machete in hand. The start of the trail was not actually a trail, but a break in the bushes. We tromped through the knee-high grass and fallen trees right into a giant muddy swamp. For the most part we could walk across the fallen trees to avoid the majority of the mud, but a few weren’t so lucky. Janicky and Birgit became our first mud buddies.
Spirits high, we forged ahead. Under giant tree limbs, over rocks, through the bushes, as we continue to look for the “trail.” It was a slow hike up because of the mud and slippery hillside. In addition, whoever was in the lead had to whack the bushes to make a space for passage. Poor Matt became the lead whacker.
The other fun thing we had to contend with were the wasps. They build their nests in the tall grass and bushes. They were fine until we came through with the machete and our feet. Several of us got stung which was certainly unpleasant. We had planned ahead and brought several lemons with us as that takes the “bite” out of the sting (sort of).
There were several beautiful views along the way. One was of the boats (the left photo is Sugar Shack and Yelo – both Catanas). The top right is a view of the Taravai village and the bottom right is a photo of another island.
We finally made it to the “flat” ridge point, albeit wet and muddy. The mud buddies made it!
We decided it was too wet to continue on and frankly we were too tired. It was not terribly far or high, but for some reason we were all tired. Total of 2.5 miles up 29 floors and 6,603 steps. We tracked our trail on the way down, but the silly track is yellow on a yellow background.
We descended down the mountain with no issues but decided to take the beach route back to avoid the muddy swamp. It was truly beautiful.
Paradise After Mud
We made it back to Edouard’s house where we collected our fruit. He is a super nice, albeit shy man. He only speaks French so our friends had to translate for us. We were super grateful for the fresh produce and his hospitality.
Some pretty shots