|Galactic tied up in the old military harbor at Hao. The other boat, Momo, is just from a season in Patagonia, having completed a 44-day passage from Valparaiso, Chile.|
|Village d'Otepa, as seen from the quai.|
There's how you might think you're supposed to travel, and how you actually do do it.
Or, since travel is really just interacting with people, there are the times on Galactic when we'd rather not travel at all.
Can you say you're not traveling if you're this far from any place that you're familiar with?
|The boys and I end most days with a bike ride.|
We came into the atoll of Hao with the idea that if it grabbed us we might want to stay a while. We still have months to spend in French Poly, I need to stay put somewhere to get some science work done, and I'd like to get the boys some more social interaction so that they (especially Elias) can pick up some French.
We had heard that Hao was friendly, so we figured that it might be the place for all that.
|Eric's new trick.|
|Well, ok, a little travel.|
Hao is unusual. It was the logistical base for the French nuclear testing program in the Tuamotus, and until not too long ago was part of a large area forbidden to visiting yachts. The testing program is history now, and the base is closed. So today there's the village and a small detachment of French soldiers doing clean-up work and a lot of abandoned infrastructure. Parts of the atoll have something of the post-apocalytptic feel that you would expect from the combination of a remote settlement and a large, abandoned military installation.
The people are super-friendly, as advertised, though our utter lack of French has proved more of an obstacle than it has in other places in the Tuamotus and Marquesas.
And, well - the place just hasn't grabbed us. We've been here more than a week, and consciously tried to be open to the place, but sometimes it just doesn't happen, for whatever reason.
And, if we're not captivated by the scene at some village we're visiting, we'd just as soon be off by ourselves. We have enough going on with taking care of the boys and ourselves that we don't always want the spontaneity and surprises that come with interacting with a different culture. Sometimes we just want to have meals and bedtimes on schedule for the boys, and time for Alisa and myself to tend our own gardens, and the delights of an empty beach near at hand when we need one. Perhaps we're a bit square, but there it is.
So our plan now is to go to the neighboring atoll of Amanu sometime early next week. French sailors we've spoken to hold the place in high regard as somewhere where you can go off and be alone with a bit of paradise. Places that offer that sort of experience, most notably Tahanea, have been the blissful highlights of our various stays in the Tuamotus. So we figure that before we head off for the Australs, we'll give ourselves one more taste of that Tuamotu magic...