Tag Archives: taravai

Matt’s Taravai Birthday

Lots of love for Cinco de Mateo this year!  We started our birthday celebrations by getting a sneak peek into one of the local dance team’s performance for their upcoming Heiva.  Our friends Stephan and Manu were both singing and dancing!  It was beautiful even though they were not in costume and they were performing in a parking lot.

Afterwards, we headed to Stephan and Manu’s house for a late happy hour.  Our friend Heifara showed up as well so it was a lot of fun.

Stephan, Matt, Me, Manu

Stephan, Matt, Me, Manu

Way before sunrise I found myself baking bread for our breakfast date and cheesecake for our birthday celebration later in the day.  I was graced with a gorgeous sunrise.

We headed up the hill where we enjoyed a huge breakfast with our good friend Poerani (Popo).  She made French toast, eggs, and sausage along with the fresh bread I brought.  She is such a gem!

Then we left Rikitea for the last time this season and headed to Taravai.  For the 3rd year in a row, we celebrated Matt’s birthday with Valerie and Herve (the local family who live on Taravai).  They hosted a giant bash for all of the cruisers.  Tons of food was shared before several heated games of volleyball and petanque.  Check out Matt’s birthday last year on Taravai.

We were actually celebrating three birthdays.  Matt, Tom on Pakia tea and Doug on Hannah.

Valerie made all the birthday boys’ birthday floral crowns and each of the significant others received floral leighs!

Sonya (Tom’s wife on Pakia Tea) made cake and chocolate pudding while I made jello shots and cheesecake bites.  Valerie gave Matt a dancing snowman as a bit of a joke.  His face was priceless!

Tom and Sonya’s son, Keanu played the recorder which was so sweet (lower left).  Sonya and I (top left), Matt and Tom (bottom right) and Ariki (Valerie and Herve’s son) on top right.

In addition to a wonderful birthday celebration it was also a goodbye party.  The winds presented a good weather window to leave Gambier so several cruisers were taking advantage of it.  It was hard to say “goodbye” to our friends as we have had a truly blessed 5 months here.

Alan, Matt, Valerien, Me, Ariki, Herve

Alan, Matt, Valerien, Me, Ariki, Herve

It amazes me how wonderful our fellow cruisers and the locals are!  They made this a truly blessed birthday to remember.

Events from this blog post occurred on 5 May, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

The master piece!

Polynesian Sand Art

My beautiful and very talented friend, Valerie, created a sand art masterpiece for us.  She is a self-taught artist well-known all-over French Polynesia.  She sells and sends her art to the States, Canada, France and Tahiti.  It will be very difficult to showcase her creations as you just can’t appreciate the intricacy without seeing it in person.  But I will endeavor to try for you.

Valerie uses local, natural sand and soil for all of her work.  First, she considers her customer and creates a story for them.  This story is then conveyed using Polynesian symbols and designs.  The second step starts with outlining the story on graph paper.  The third step is artfully and carefully gluing the particles of sand and soil into place.  Yep, you read that right.  She applies hundreds of thousands of particles of sand and soil individually to create her sand art.

Breaking down the artwork by sections…

The Fairytale of My Life

The 1 represents Matt.  He is the man, solid.  He gave and continues to give force and protection to his wife, Christine.  The 2 represents, Christine.  She passed from life to death and from death to life.  Matt (3) and Christine, as the wind comes from the North (4), travel across the ocean (5).  With their love and passion (6)., they take care of each other and their home (7).  Generously (8) giving.  Christine, you are a beautiful woman (9) and Matt is your hero (20).  Like the bird, you always take flight (11) to other islands and countries.

Starting at lower right corner.

  1. Arm/Leg “Puha tahi” (bend with two matching ends) = Matt. Force, solid, protection
  2. Marquesan Cross “Peka ‘enana” (above arm, square) = Christine. Transformation, cycle of eternity, from life to death and death to life.
  3. Man “Vahana” = Matt. The husband.  Woman = Christine. The wife.  (stacked man with woman above)
  4. Cohort of the Tiu God “Pi’I ia o Tiu” (design looks like X’s with dots on top). Wind from the North.  Those that go beyond the sea
  5. Sea “Tai” (waves over arch). To Travel.
  6. Love “Hinena’o” (looks like checkerboard under the waves). Love passionately. My lovely wide.
  7. Woven material “’A ‘aka ha’a” (zig zag with lines under love). Made with Pandanus Odoratissimus leaves.  Woven together for life.  Home, family, take care of each other.
  8. Arm (armpit) “Ka’ake” (bottom center, below bird and shooting up to the left of the arm/leg #1) force of generosity, gift of love, cherishment.
  9. Woman’s belly “hope vehnine” (two images, left of Marquesan cross). Femininity, beauty.
  10. Manta Ray “Haha’ua” (center). Men’s protector animal and wisdom.
Sand Art Story

Sand Art Story

Continuing the Journey

You are always read to listen and understand others (12).  The ancestor’s spirit protects you (13) and also the good luck spirit gives you power (14).   You’ve got courage to brave (15) the ocean even when it’s raining, windy, and stormy.

  1. Bird “Manu” (bottom. Semi-circle) Taking flight, soul’s journey
  2. Ear “Pua’ika” (left of bird, looks like surfer’s “s”) always ready to listen, understanding
  3. Sacred Divinity “Etua po’o’u” (below bird and ear). A protector or ancestor’s spirit.
  4. Glinting / Gleaming look “Mata Hoata” (type of tiki. To the left of Sacred Divinity) Good luck spirit which gives power. Awaken to the world.
  5. Ornament for the calf “Poe vae” (Two stripes from Sacred Divinity to flower. Hourglass design) Represents courage and bravery.
Sand Art Story

Sand Art Story

The Guiding Star

The compass (16) is your star who guides you across the ocean.  Success (18) in all your life, trip, and love.  As the turtle (17), you always return to the sea (19).  For our continued journey to see and meet other worlds and new friends.

Compass and Turtle

Compass and Turtle

I zoomed in on a small portion of the photo with the hopes that you can see the sand particles.  There are dozens of colors of sand in this small corner alone.

This is a photo of the sand art as a work in progress…she has drawn it out and is working on adhering the sand.

Work in progress

Work in progress

And the final masterpiece of sand art….

The master piece!

The master piece!

Me and Valerie, the artist extraordinaire!

Valerie and I with my Sand Art

Valerie and I with my Sand Art

It takes Valerie between 3-4 weeks to complete one sand art creation.  She inspires me and leaves me speechless with her talent!

Events from this blog post occurred during the end of March.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

St. Gabriel Church

St. Gabriel Church Repair

The St. Gabriel church is a large, beautiful church that was built in 1868 when Taravai had over 2,000 inhabitants.  However, now there are only about 12 people living on the entire island and most do not use or attend the church on island.  Partly because it is in serious disrepair and also because there is no parishioner to hold service.  When one of the locals want to go to church, they hop in their panga and drive 6 miles to the mainland where they attend service at St. Michael’s church. 

The found loads and loads of wood piled up inside the church the first time we visited in April 2019.  We later learned that the locals planned to repair and renovate the church — at some point.  We were surprised to see that the work had not begun when we returned to Taravai in January 2020.  The wood sat comfortably inside the church when we returned again in December 202.

St. Gabriel Church Taravai

St. Gabriel Church Taravai

Rumors of Repair

By February 2021 we had heard rumors that they were going to start the work on the St. Gabriel Church.  They had a huge fundraiser and the local government was ready to begin renovations.

There are about 12 people who currently live on Taravai.  Valerie and Herve live in the “village” and they told us that they would repair the dock, add two water drains (from the mountains to the ocean), clear the mountainside behind and to the side of the church, and then set up scaffolding and a work tent.  All of this work took about 3 weeks.

St. Gabriel Church Taravai

St. Gabriel Church Taravai

The plan is to replace the tile roof with a metal roof (cheaper and lasts longer), remove all of the exterior plaster (by hand), then begin work on the interior.  Makes sense as why work on the interior when the roof is in bad shape?

Volunteers Begin the Work

The local government decided it would be “best” to ask for volunteers from Mangareva (the main village) to work on the St. Gabriel church rather than pay the locals of Taravai.  Much to the dislike of the locals of Taravai.  We saw the first group of volunteers come over from Mangareva to Taravai to volunteer to work on the church.  Sometimes there are 5/6 people and sometimes 30/40 people.  The volunteers come over on the Tokani, which is a glorified people mover.  They primarily use this vessel to transport people from the main village to the airport which is on a different motu called Totegegie (5nm away).  The Tokani takes the visitors to the lagoon inside Taravai and then the volunteers transfer to a barge to get to shore.  It is a process.

The volunteers begin on the roof.

Roof work

Roof work

The installation of the roof was very interesting. Nobody is strapped or tied in as they work on the roof.  Next, they only use hammer and nails.  They don’t use bolts or screws or anything more substantial to hold the roof.  Workers nailed the support boards to other wood.  Then the volunteers nailed the metal roof to the support boards.  Hope there is not a big wind gust or storm because it does not seem like the roof is secure at all.  I am sure they know what they are doing as this is not their first rodeo but still….

Removal of Plaster

Another group of volunteers begin the work of removing the old, dirty plaster on the exterior of the St. Gabriel Church.  There are layers and layers of plaster on all of the four walls and the steeple.  Workers covered holes, cracks, and weak spots with layers of plaster over the year.  It was and will continue to be a slow process as they remove the multiple layers of plaster with puddy knives by hand.

Plaster work

Plaster work

Update on Church Repairs

Matt and I stopped by Taravai on our way out of Gambier. We had hoped to see significant repairs and updates on the church as it had been 6 weeks since we were last here.

Church repairs as of 1 May 2021

Church repairs as of 1 May 2021

Inside repairs.  They removed the pulpit flooring and removed the cross which had rotted.

They removed the cross with Christ as it was rotted – hope they replace it altogether.

Coming up next is the adventure of our volunteer day at the St. Gabriel church.

Events from this blog post occurred during February and March 2021.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.