Begonia at Peaceful Hao
There, we met Adrian, her boyfriend, who had his monohull Eureka rafted up to Alene’s catamaran. Alene is an American journalist/filmmaker who has managed to eke out a living in Polynesia getting paid by the word. She’s very ebullient and athletic and likes to free dive for fun. Adrian is French and teaches kite surfing from his boat, wherever he and Alene happen to be. Apparently, kite surfing is perfect exercise because Adrian has a couple of six-packs that all of his other muscles ride on. The whole thing is covered with a perfect tan. And then there’s the accent. Every time he says anything, I notice both Maryanne and Alene smile a little more than normal. He seems to have a perpetual problem with his shorts. They seem to be so loose, they are in constant danger of falling off. I’d wish they were tighter, but I’m not sure that wouldn’t be worse. I’d love to hate him, but he’s just so nice and easy going.
The next day, we decided to prove to ourselves that we were still young and vibrant by digging out the bikes and doing the 18km ride to the pass.
We started by going to the old military base. Most of the buildings there were being slowly reclaimed by nature, but there were a few off to the side that seemed to be occupied by people that had taken up residence. We then went past the airport and its ridiculously long runway to the future site of a giant fish processing factory planned by the Chinese.
After that, the road narrowed and turned to sand for what seemed like a really long way before we finally spotted the backside of the entrance marker we had spent so much time the previous day trying to put behind us.
It was on the long ride back that we both realized we had maybe bitten off more than we could chew, endurance-wise. I don’t think it was the exercise, per se, but rather doing all of it on a bike seat. There comes a time when your body is just not having any more of sitting on that seat. I made Maryanne promise me no long bike trips the next day.
I was a little annoyed the next morning when Maryanne suggested we ride into town to “get a few bits”. I honestly would have preferred walking, but she won me over by saying we would be back in no time.
Ha! Of course, the first place we went didn’t have what we wanted, so we had to ride all of the way to the other end of town to another store. They didn’t have it either, so we rode around for an hour looking for a hidden third store. None of the businesses in Hao have signs because everybody there already knows where everything is. When we finally found it, we discovered it was closed for a ridiculously long lunch.
Now we had a choice. We were on the opposite side of the village from Begonia, so we could go all the way back home, wait twenty minutes and come all of the way back or… we could see if we could find the other end of the road. If we did, we would be able to say we cycled every single road on Hao. I DO like achieving a goal.
So off we went, butts protesting, in search of the south end of the road. It was actually very nice, way prettier than the ride north. The south side has all sorts of perfect little tropical bungalows, each nestled under a canopy of palm trees and with large patios looking out over the turquoise and emerald waters of the lagoon. As we rode by, everybody stopped what they were doing to give a big wave. Some yelled “Bonjour” or “Ia Orana”.
After we had killed enough time, we returned to the now open store and filled my pack with many heavy things. Maryanne wanted to keep taking little side trips to see just one more thing. That’s because she wasn’t wearing a heavy pack. I managed to persuade her to skip most of them and call it a day. We both really needed to get off the bikes.
In the morning, Maryanne was off the boat within five minutes of waking and riding into town for fresh bread while I started the coffee. She returned with a baguette for each boat in the harbor and two for us. It was still warm from the oven. Fresh baguettes in the morning are just glorious. I just wish the bakeries didn’t sell out by 7:00.
Maryanne then made an off-hand comment about wanting to top up on a few provisions once the other stores opened. I REALLY wanted to look to busy to join her. I really did, but I couldn’t leave her to carry everything home by herself, so it was back on the bike for another tour of the town’s shops. Bicycles are great, but I’m ready to do something else for a while.