Beauty is all around us as we spend Christmas in the Gambiers! We celebrate a few days before Christmas in a small bay on the West side of Taravai called Onemea. We are all by ourselves and have an unobstructed view of the sunset. Once inside the bay you are surrounded by reefs on three sides which provide excellent snorkeling. Matt flew the drone and captured these beautiful photos.
A beautiful rainbow over the hillside.
Matt gets the drone out and captures a really pretty photo of Sugar Shack with the sun and puffy cloud.
Cookie Baking Day
Our family used to do a cookie baking day where all the ladies gathered together to bake dozens and dozens of cookies. When I moved to Texas, I continued the tradition by inviting my girlfriends and their daughters over for baking and decorating. It was a great way to get out of decorating the cookies and getting sharing the cookies. I love to bake but decorating does not bring me much joy. Last year, I invited several gals from other boats and we decorated them together…but this year I was all on my own. I made the dough for two recipes (gingerbread and sugar cookies) one day and then put them in fridge. The next day I baked 288 gingerbread cookies (with red hots) and 130 sugar cookies (stars, hearts, sea horse, bells, and a mermaid).
The next day I made 75 white mice (or Mexican wedding cookies) and 75 chocolate candy cane cookies with white chocolate drizzle and peppermint topper. Then I made frosting for the sugar cookies and decorated the bells, hearts, sea horses, and mermaids. Whew!
Christmas in Gambiers is a day of Sharing
Part of the joy of baking is being able to share the cookies with others. So, Christmas in the Gambiers came on Christmas Eve. Each boat in the anchorage (6 of them) received a cookie care package and 5 different local families did too. What fun!
Christmas Eve Activities
There are only 8 boats in the entire archipelago right now which is amazing, albeit shocking! One of the boats is a family of 4 with a teacher from the UK. They invited everyone onshore to do caroling. They even had song sheets. I must say we sounded terrible! But it was great fun.
After caroling, we headed to St. Michael cathedral for evening service. We were not sure how they would handle service with the pandemic restrictions, but it went off really well. Everyone wore their masks, no hugging or kissing (which is huge for French and Polynesian people), and we all tried to sit with at least 2 people space between us. It was crowded and hot though. I can only imagine what it is like when they are literally full to capacity with people body to body.
The church was decorated so beautiful with natural plants and flowers. A beautiful nativity highlighted at the entrance and of course the beautiful stations in each of the corners.
The alter was decorated with live trees and fresh flowers. Everything worked in harmony to accentuate the stunning alter covered in natural pearl shells. Truly beautiful.
After service, I went back to Stefan and Manu’s place to enjoy a tasty dinner. Stefan had been cooking since noon and man oh man did he cook for an army! I thought there would be more people but it was just he and his wife, their two young kids and Matt and I. I am not sure where he thinks we can put all this food!
Stefan literally prepared a feast with lamb, lobster, oysters, potato casserole, and many many side dishes.
As we were headed back to the boat, we heard the Taporo coming in – yeah! The supply ship has arrived.
Christmas in Gambiers – The Supply Ship
I have written about the supply ship on many blogs. If you might recall, I always say it is like Christmas. And wouldn’t you know it – they actually arrive on Christmas day this time! It is so amazing to see all the locals congregate on the dock waiting for their packages and presents. We saw new bicycles, TVs, outboards, fresh food and produce, fuel, propane and oh so much more. Everyone was happy and excited to get their holiday on!
Everyone checks in at the little “hut” where you order and pay for your goods (upper left corner photo). We had wanted to buy 25kilos of flour and 4 cases of beer, but they were out 🙁 So sad for us.
Several boats needed fuel, so we loaned out our jerry cans and gave hand – because that is just what you do.
Stefan and Manu invited us back to their house for lunch (Christmas eve left overs) – who would say “no” to more lobster? We stumbled back to the boat after being overly fed and rested for awhile before going over to “Auntie” a new cruising friend that we met. Eve on “Auntie” invited other cruisers over for Christmas happy hour which was lovely and just a perfect way to end this beautiful Christmas celebration.
Although I miss my family tremendously, Christmas in Gambiers showered us with love and happiness (both from the locals and other cruisers). Life is good and truly blessed.
Events from this blog post occurred around 12 December, 2020. Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.