Oh, well. We were itching to get out of our spot anyway. The weather had churned up a lot of sand, so the visibility wasn't good for snorkeling. The shore was rocky, so swimming over in the surf wasn't going to happen. We had no cell service of any kind, so we spent our days doing things like cleaning out the fridge in the morning and reading a book in the afternoon. We couldn't even read outside because it was raining. It felt like we were wasting paradise.
Finally we deemed it safe to move on to Pakakota. There was indeed a crowd there and we had to anchor Begonia way at the far end where there was no question about whether we would be rowing ashore or digging out the dinghy motor. We hadn't actually used the dinghy to get ashore since Ua Pou. Since we seem to spend most of our day snorkeling in the Tuamotus, it seems simpler to make a detour to the beach than to go back to Begonia to get the dinghy.
We went shore and made our introductions to the proprietors, Mattheiu and Agnes. I don't know what I was expecting, but they weren't it. Mattheiu is a shortish guy with strawberry blonde hair, clear, bright eyes and a seemingly boundless store of energy and good cheer. Agnes has a mother's ability to do and see ten things at once and looks like the Hinano beer logo. They have a young daughter that appears to be made of stainless steel. The kid has the wobbly stagger of someone new to walking. She's always tottering off barefoot across the sharp coral toward some sort of greater danger. As expected, she falls a lot, often bumping her steel head on something sharp. When this happens, instead of wailing, she pops back up and totters off in another direction towards the next thing. Occasionally, she'll do something that makes us cringe, like balance herself on top of a stool over a concrete floor or go sprinting toward the end of the dock. Every time this happened, Agnes would appear from the kitchen or behind the building and scoop the kid up at the last moment with one arm while still holding somebody's laundry or a big pot of food in the other.
Exploring around Pakakota Yacht Services
When the kid wasn't training to be a stunt baby, she would bring us stuff. She was constantly giving us flowers or plopping seashells on our laps.
They also had a big dog that leaned in hard whenever she was scratched and two constantly purring cats.
Pakokota is in the business of doing everything. They'll do your laundry, make you dinner, fill your propane or jerry cans, take you to town to do some shopping. They also have bungalows to rent and a shed with a large selection of tools (curiously, no vice, though) and can fix most things. If they can't fix it, Mattheiu has the connections to know who can. For instance, one of the other boats in the anchorage had a generator seize. Mattheiu found a guy in town to machine a new shaft and provide new bearings. While their generator was offline, he lent them a couple of spare solar panels so they wouldn't have to use their engine for charging. Oh, and they also have a strong wifi signal they beam out to the anchorage!
Under the circumstances, we were more than happy to throw them some of our business as well. We dropped off our laundry, made reservations for dinner and signed up for a spot on the next provisioning run. In the meantime, we went for walks and got caught up with the other cruisers.
A visit to town to see the church (those flowers are made with wood and mother of pearl)
And the table set for a meal with the family and fellow cruisers
At dinner, Maryanne and I were the only native English speakers, which meant the table was alive with French. That's good for us. It's hard to practice another language when people keep switching to English. We muddled through as best we could and if we ever really got stuck, someone would switch to English for us.
We learned a little of Matthieu's story. His mother is Scottish and his father is from Monaco. His mother worked as an au pair in the palace. An au pair? How many kids do they have in the...oh!! The family moved to Tahiti when he was four, but he spent summers in Monaco until his teens. He took up sailing and diving and worked for a while as a dive boat captain and offshore fisherman before settling down in Fakarava. His brand of settling down seems like a lot of work as he's constantly building things or fixing things on their large parcel of land. It looks like a fifteen-year project to get it done.