Manihi Life…..

Dear F&F,

August 24-26, 2009
Manihi Life

This is a nice spot, very comfortable anchorage. A 3rd sailboat pulled in today, \”Aquarius\”. The captain is an older British guy, Arthur, with 2 crew (1 South African, 1 from the Canary Islands). He\’s been cruising 20 years, since his wife passed away. Scott tried to help Arthur get his Sailmail going. They fixed one computer problem but there is still a modem issue. Scott sent a tech support request email. Hopefully he\’ll get some helpful advice.

We are waiting for Marc\’s arrival to get back in the water – soon we hope. The outgoing dive guide, Serge, that will be replaced by Marc did not want to take us diving today. He is preparing to return to Paris in 1 week (death of his mother, needs to help settle the estate, plans to be there a while).

So we had \”free time\” this morning. That sounds funny, I know, but we usually have some kind of agenda. We did a few jobs: changed the sheets, changed the watermaker filters. I had defrosted some chicken that I needed to cook. I opened an experimental can of yellow curry paste I bought in Costa Rica. I think Mary said she\’d tried it & said it was really good. When I opened the can the smell of lemongrass rose to my nose. It reminds me of the smell of Thai chicken coconut soup which I love. I started with a small scoop & got braver as I kept tasting how the flavors blended with the condensed mushroom soup, coconut milk and chicken bouillon. Frozen peas & a can of sliced mushrooms were added to fill it out. Yum! It will be great over rice.

While I washed the pile of dishes I\’d created I listened to audio French lesson #1. Scott got motivated to make a concerted effort to learn some every day & is up to lesson #4. It is sad how much we have forgotten since the days when we took Berlitz while having the boat built in France. Something about \”use it or lose it\”.

After being in the galley for 3 hours, I decided to cool off with a swim/snorkel. The visibility was kind of hazy along the shallow coral reef. It always feels great to be in the water & there were plenty of small reef fish to see.

Scott meanwhile went to shore with his media computer hoping that some Adobe updates would help solve the snags he\’s having with his video editing program. First it took 45 minutes to update the anti-virus software. He came back to the boat after 3 hours, leaving his computer there to continue loading the updates that would take the rest of the day. Welcome to slow speed internet. Tempting to use, but frustrating as heck. It was to a very kind & patient American Airlines booking agent that helped me purchase my ticket to California via a poor Skype connection. I am so happy to have that trip nailed down

It was 15 minutes in the dinghy to the hotel / dive center dock. Going is the easy direction. Returning we slam into the wind & swell. We did not see Serge, so just asked some departing tourists to point us in the direction of the airport. I always feel a bit weird when I finally get to stride out & stretch my legs when we haven\’t been on shore much. The waiting room was an open air thatched roof with some benches. The runway was right there. Serge pulled up in a hotel golf cart that they use to transport the guests the 1/2 mile to the hotel. It was great to see Marc strolling off the tarmac in white linen shirt & long pants. We never saw him in anything but a wetsuit or lava lava before (polynesian wrapped skirt). His hair was cut short and he lost 10 lbs – looks great! Serge & Marc began chatting in high speed French. Scott & I could only smile to each other & wish we had stuck with learning the language before this trip. C\’est la vie, no time like the present. Marc had 2 carry on bags & 1 checked. His dive gear etc will arrive on the cargo ship tomorrow. Serge showed him to his new home, a hotel staff bungalow. Less private, but nicer than his digs in Fakarava. We visited with them a while, convinced Serge to pick us up in the dive boat at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow & excused ourselves. We could tell the two of them had a lot to discuss, mostly we just wanted to be part of Marc\’s welcoming committee. I quietly left some cake I baked last night in his room. I knew he was coming, so I baked a cake…as the saying goes.

Scott took cupcakes into Xavier, Kenny & Sylvan. In return Scott came back with half a loaf of Xavier\’s bread machine bread that was really good. It had some seeds in it, nice to have something besides low quality plain white baguette. Scott thinks the Tahiti baguettes will be better. So far I\’m not impressed, but white bread isn\’t my thing.

The other 2 boats have decided to have happy hour on Xavier\’s pier at sunset. Eight guys & me. It\’s ok. We won\’t stay long since we have to get out all the dive gear, pump tanks, etc. So that\’s our day. Eager to dive tomorrow. Hopefully it will be Serge, Marc & us. Maybe one other couple. The early dive is inside the lagoon, there is a cleaning station where a few manta rays are known to come. It is always a treat for us to see mantas up close. The 2nd dive will be on the reef on the outside of the atoll.

Scott checked on the progress of his computer updates. It had stalled so not much progress. Perhaps the power convertor had blown so the computer went to sleep? Anyway, he re-connected & is letting it work all night, hopefully it will finish. Xavier is very kind to let us boaters use his facilities, such as they are.

Cindy & Scott