The splendid island of Taravai, final part trois

Taravai is just 1.5miles from the main island of Gambier, Mangareva, but some cruising sailboats don’t stop there. The the maze of coral in the anchorage, and lack of all-weather protection (in one spot) contributes to this. Yet, it added another dimension to our appreciation of the Gambier archipelago.

On our third day, we hiked to the top of the ridge. The natural “gardens” around the seashore gave way to a bounty of banana trees and palms; which then gave way to impressive pine trees. Below their canopies, as we hiked higher into the mountain, we could see the translucent blue and green of the coral reef circling the island. We hacked our way through the overgrown trail to the top of the ridge, where we ate our sandwiches admiring six islands scattered in the lagoon.

Two dogs followed us; friendly, smart mutts owned by Lorence and Pierre, a couple who sailed around the world from France and settled here in Taravai. They’ve constructed an idyllic tropical compound. Their solar-powered house is a few hundred yards from their (only) neighbors, Valerie and Herve. Their homestead consists of a pig pen on one side, chicken coop on the other, and a horse that grazes the yard; when he’s not sticking his head through the window to ask for treats. Through their living room window, they have a view of their steel ketch, perfectly framed by the trees. Stunning!

We purchased jewelry from Lorence after our hike; beautiful handicraft using black pearls, purple urchins from Tuamotos, and mother-of-pearl shells. The calm sunny day had given way to grey clouds; the wind started blowing and a cold drizzle began. It was time to seek shelter on the opposite side of the island, as the forecast indicated a front moving in with strong SE winds and lots of rain. We were worried it might be a replay of the sudden storm we experienced the previous week, so we rallied back to Aldebaran.

Photo: Spencer hiking the ridge trail in Taravai enroute to the peak.

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