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Cargo Day in the Tuamotus


It was a perfect storm.

The tiny village of Raroia had run out of all things important …. Tobacco and liquor… in the beginning of the week. With a supply ship coming through only once a month, this was a serious threat to our happiness and those who we are sharing this island with. Luckily the next cargo ship was due to arrive only 3 days later… that Thursday.

Silent Sun was on the other side of the atoll hiding out from the crappy weather and headed back into town on Wednesday to prepare for the cargo ships arrival. This was the 2nd factor in the perfect storm- we were able to come into town and anchor at the village for a weekend for ONCE. Literally, this whole season the winds have been working against and only this once and maybe the first week we arrived, were we able to spend a Saturday night in the village. But Thursday came, and no cargo. Friday came, no cargo! Everyday we had different reports, but always the same- demain, deamin (similar to manana manan in mexico). At this point everyone on the island is getting itchy. People were puling out their stashes and if you happened to have any Bison (the local fave tobacco) you could sell that shit for at least 20 bucks (regular going rate is 10). It was also funny to see the old men in the village walking around drinking Tabu, which is a close to disgusting “tequila” wine spritzer beverage that is always the last thing left on the shelf. But hey- it does contain alcohol! You could see, things were getting desperate. There were also rumors that the cargo wasn’t going to show up until Sunday or even Monday now… uuuuugh.

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Luckily for us we had another boat in town that we had become very good friends with- SV Silver Lynx. It was a boat full of people, all very nice, laid back, and always down for a good time- kindred spirits for sure.  So, knowing they were there to share all the fun activities with us, and knowing it may be the only Saturday we had in town… I spent most of Thursday and Friday spreading the word that “IF” (big if!) the cargo does come, we were all going to have a dance party.

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By the end of Friday after our daily volleyball game in the village, I had 5 parties planned. This was not by choice. The problem here is that not everyone can hang out with eachother on the island. Me, on the otherhand, would like to be friends with everyone and would like to have a big party with everyone. Well c’ie la vie- 5 different parties were planned for the weekend…. IF the cargo showed up.

Saturday morning at first light, Chris and I both jumped out of bed to check the AIS. This little screen tells us if there are other boats in the area and all the information on that boat. Hallelujah!!!! At 530AM Nuku Hau was 9 miles away from Raroia. THE PARTY(ies) IS ON!!!!!!

The ship pulled up to the pier around 9AM and they must have thought Raroia was the nicest, most fun village ever- because EVERYONE, pretty sure all 175 inhabitants of Raroia, was on that pier and in the happiest of moods. The Perfect storm.

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As we loaded up on sacks of potatoes, flats of eggs, bottles of rum, and gallons of diesel and gasoline from the ship… I was also running around confirming the days festivities and making sure everyone was ready to dance the night away. And they were. Oh, I also managed to hop on the Cargo by myself and run around to take pictures. I kind of am really involve with the cargo ships here… the system, the ships, the crews… pretty freakin’ cool. They are the lifeline to this remote islands, and this week we witnessed it more than ever as the food dropped off the shelves and people were left with nothing more than fish and coconuts to get by. Crazy!

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Around 11AM I set off for the first get together… luckily I had a partner in crime and Meagan was there right by myside. We first hit up the “old man” party at Regis.. where our time is always spent near the beach, lounging and chatting while at least one is pounding on some drums or strumming on the uke.  Through broken french and nearly no English, I can hang out with these guys for hours, laughing, joking and enjoying life.

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Next we hit up my good friend Mo’s house. Her name is actually Moya, but we call her Molove obviously. She is a bundle of laughs, jokes and always a good time. We had to make her a separate party because she thought the dance party location was way too far away  (luckily later that night she reconsidered and danced the night away with us anyway). So we chilled with Mo, her daughter and hubby TK until it was time to meet up with the boys (Chris and Co.). We made the long walk down to the pearl farm, had a drink or 2 with our friend Heimanu (3rd party) and then made it back into the town just in time for the BBQ planned at Tuariki’s house (party #4). As we arrived to the house, smells of freshly seared Pork on the barby wafted into the streets. We had a lovely dinner of the most delicious BBQ pork I’ve ever tasted, along with poison cru (raw fish in a vinigratte marinade). We enjoyed the great company of friends and family nearby and then it was time for the grand finale- the dance party down the beach at Michelle’s house.

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Chris, Martini, Meag and I headed down to the beach, following the sweet tunes until we alas joined the dance party of all dance parties. Mostly everyone we expected was in attendance and as they had been waiting for us to show up since 7Pm (it was now 9Pm), they were amped up and had drank just enough bright pink and green vodka to really get down. And that we did. We danced, and we danced until our legs were shaky. Each time any of us three tried to sit down for a rest during a song change, we were pulled up by another friend and more dancing we did. Finally around midnight exhausted Chris and Meagan pulled me off the dance floor and we headed back towards the pier. Unfortunately for those two the party at Tuariki’s was still going and we had to make a stop on the way home (I guess that would make 6 parties). More dancing was achieved and we finally made it back to the boat sometime around 1 or 2 AM. Champions.

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Pretty sure the entire island will continue to talk about this night and the perfect storm that was created the day the cargo delivered on the small, very special, island of Raroia.


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