Locals volunteer work on repairing the Saint. Gabriel church every Saturday in Taravai. They come in by barge from the main island of Mangareva and work all day. Since we were in Taravai for the weekend we decided to put our muscles to work. There were 7 of us cruisers and about 110 locals! Yep, they came in full force on the day we volunteered.
A morning prayer and breakfast were served before everyone began work. The mayor (le mairie) is the man in the white shirt with the bright green jacket over his arm.
A group of students were among the volunteer group. They worked on landscaping from the dock to the Saint Gabriel church (top photo). The bottom photo shows the crop they planted a few weeks before (taro root, banana trees and sweet potatoes). The government sat and watched the work (all day). Impressive that they were there on a Saturday, but it would have been more impressive had they lifted a finger to help.
About 20-25 people focused on the roof. They had 15-20 people on the roof and another group of people below cutting the wood and passing things up. Only a few were tied in which was a bit scary to watch. Surely, they know what they are doing. Hopefully this roof will stay in place during storms and maramus.
The cruisers were set on up the opposite side of the work on the roof (precautionary measures to protect us). But it was in the direct sun and it was HOT! We were removing layers and layers of old plaster on the side of the church. It was a messy and very physical job.
We were covered in plaster from head to toe, but it was rewarding work. This Eve and I after a short water break.
These are a couple of great shots where you can see the progress of the work. The lower white sections have been scrapped. The upper gray, blue, and black sections are the old layers of plaster. The front of the Saint Gabriel Church is difficult to work on because you are on scaffolding and are working around curves, balls, and shells.
Before and After
It is always fun to look at before and after shots of your work. This is an up-close shot of an area I worked on. It still needs work, but it is better than it was when I started.
This little collage shows the wall before we began work (top left), us working (top right) and the wall after we were done for the day. It is nowhere near completed.
This collage is through the faux wall (which is also being worked on) and shows the Saint Gabriel church and steeple. You can see the steeple has not been touched yet and is still gray, blue and black whereas the church wall is white.
Polynesians here tended to work slowly and take breaks often. I think it is what they need to do to be able to work the entire day in the hot sun. However, the cruisers, worked super hard for 5 hours and wore themselves out, me included. After we enjoyed the very tasty lunch that was served to us, we headed back to the boat. Must admit, that we all showered and had to recover for the rest of the day.
Events from this blog post occurred during February and March 2021. Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.