Raiatea was an experience that goes under the personal adventure tab in the memory file. After our stroll into town we had talked to Syren on the VHF and had told them we were moving onto a mooring outside of the Carenage ship yard in the next bay over from our present location, with the understanding that they were heading our way to meet up. We spent a couple of nights there and had the good fortune to finally meet a couple named Sally and Brad Bagshaw on a boat called Pax Vobiscum (Peace be with you), out of Seattle. We had seen them in various anchorages and heard them on the VHF along the way but had not yet met. They came by in their dinghy to tell us that they were putting the boat on the hard and were leaving the following day to go home for a while, had wanted to meet us and to give us some items that would not store well while the boat was in dry dock. They had a few housekeeping items to tend to on their boat first and so we invited them to come back later for sundowner (happy hour), and Poisson cru. We immediately fell in love with these delightful people! Both are attorneys (semi-retired), accomplished sailors and airplane pilots. We shared life stories and nearly cried when they left because we had all felt that we'd forged a deep bond with one another and felt sad that it was on their last night aboard, yet grateful that we were able to spend that last evening with them. Of course we traded email info with the hope that our paths will cross once again down the way.
Next morning we thought we had seen Syren pull into the adjacent bay but didn't hear from them so figured they were just real busy getting the repaired sail back on the boat and decided to leave them be until they had time to contact us. We busied ourselves with boat stuff and then in the afternoon hailed them again. They had picked up the sail and were anchored between us and the town (Uturoa), so we told them we'd see them as we passed by the next day on our way to town. OK, then so we are getting ready to drop the mooring and head to town the next day, gave Syren a call only to find that they were already gone; headed back to Papeete (Tahiti) to pick up parts.. Such is the life of a cruiser. We must be meant to meet in another place and time.
We arrived at the "downtown" wharf in time to secure one of the last available side-tie spots. As is frequently the case fellow cruisers (Spirit of Ecstasy and Margarita) were there to help us dock. Lou and Ian on SOE invited us for tea later in the afternoon. We had much to do while here so we set off to whittle the list down. Before leaving we needed to get to the bank in order to get our $3200 bond back, find a clinic to get our last Hep B boosters and hit the grocery store for final provisioning because we had heard that Bora Bora has none of these amenities. We spent a lot of time walking around and only managed to get some groceries bought. Uturoa is the second largest city (village) in FP, yet it is smaller than most US towns. There are three grocery stores, all within one block, several small boutiques, a couple of banks and 4 eateries – one is only open for lunch, and two are Chinese. The dock was crawling with big roaches so we had to take care to seal Destiny and to make sure all windows were screened at all times. There are great fears among cruisers (at least for us women), and they are the infestation of either mice or roaches! After our walk around the little town we went to tea on SOE. Ian and Louise are adorable. We learned that she is from South Africa, he from England. He moved to South Africa and during many successful years in business, collected dozens of Jaguars (the autos), and although he wanted to collect Rolls Royces decided he would settle for naming their catamaran "Spirit of Ecstasy", after the maiden figurehead on the front of the Rolls. We spent a very nice afternoon getting to know them and discussing future sailing plans. It seems many of us are headed to New Zealand or Australia eventually.
Friday morning we got up very early to try to get to the bank before the lines got out the door in order to retrieve our bond money and to find a place to get our vaccinations. We found out once again that nothing is easy or directly accomplished here. While Frank set out for the bank I went in search of a doctor's office. After his stint in the bank line he found that we had to first go to the gendarmerie for a signature on our documents and then back to the bank. I found that we have to first get a prescription from a doctor, take it to the pharmacy to get the serum, and then go back to the doctor for the injection. I tried but discovered full waiting rooms and no reception areas at the 3 I visited. I had no idea what to do to see a doctor. We were told at the visitor's center that we could go to the hospital. Together we decided to hit the gendarmerie and then go to the hospital to see what could be done there. The gendarmerie was actually quite rude to us which, based on previous experience was surprising, and told us in excellent English that she doesn't speak English – only French. She literally made us struggle to explain our needs to her and after quite a lot of trying and looking pretty silly, we were sure to her amusement, she pointed to our documents and told us that we cannot do that in Raiatea, we must go to the bank in Bora Bora. Of course all of our documents are in French so we don't know what we are doing, but are still learning to practice patience and tolerance because this is not our country! Next we set off for the hospital. A doctor finally agreed to talk to us and with his limited French explained that he was too busy to help us and that we must go find a doctor to write an RX. I explained that I had tried that but the doctor's offices were all full and we needed someone to help us out here. He finally wrote an RX for each of us but told us that after we get the serum we must find another physician to give us the injection because he had no nurse that day, lots of patients and was just too busy to help us more. What a nice man! And it cost us nothing to have seen him. Off we went to the pharmacy (only 1 in town). Of course there was a very long line – we are now accustomed to long lines here, and think it is actually part of the social culture. The locals arrive, hug and kiss and fall into various conversations with one another and with those arriving and leaving. It is all very civil and quite affable to observe as an outsider. There is no anxiety or foot tapping or nail biting among any of these gentle islanders as they wait in line. When we finally got to the counter we were told that there was only one available serum, but that a supply should arrive the next day. We took the one and found a physician upstairs. We waited in line and when we were next, the nurse informed us that they were closing for lunch and to return at 2 PM. We asked if we should have an appointment but she said "no, just come back at 2". We returned to Destiny for lunch and a rest and then trotted back over to the physician's office. Arriving at 1:50, the waiting room was full. Once again we were turned away and told to come back at between 6 & 6:30 the next morning but that being Saturday they would be closing early. She was kind enough to refrigerate Frank's serum for us and we left to go get our grocery shopping done. Naturally there are 3 grocery stores here for a very good reason; what you search for in one may be found in another. We scoured all three, coming up with a relative supply of items on our lists. You learn to live with what you find and to be happy about it. Back onboard we stowed goodies and settled in for another night of Alias.
Saturday morning bright and early we arrived at the doctor to get in line. I had checked in at the pharmacy and been instructed to return at 9:00 for my serum. Everything went perfectly! At 8:45 I went down to the pharmacy, got in line, had my serum by 9:05, walked back upstairs to the waiting room, sat down with Frank and we got called up within 10 minutes. Interestingly, during the wait I stepped into the water closet (bathroom) and was disarmed to find a rather nasty facility. The sink and toilet were filthy and there was barely running cold water – no hot and no soap! I rinsed my hands and dried them on my shirt. As I sat down again, Frank whispered over to me, "By the way, don't touch anything and if you do then do not put your hands to your face". Right. What was even more alarming was that we had already seen the doc come out of his office to use the toilet in between patients – cripes! I kept thinking of episodes of ER, where the doctors went down into third world places to operate on people in facilities that looked like this one. When we got called into the room, it was even more bizarre. There was junk piled all over the patient "bed", and stuff just stacked all about willy nilly. There was a small cart with some instruments on it that looked none too clean. We rejoiced when we saw that our serum came already loaded into a sterile syringe! The doctor actually did take some gauze soaked in alcohol to clean a spot on each of our arms, prior to injecting us. That shot hurt like the devil! After my injection I bled a little and so after fidgeting around looking for something to put on my arm, he finally settled on a piece of tape. When we were finished and he had signed our World Health Certificate cards, we hightailed it right out of there, went straight to the dock, cast off the lines and set out for Bora Bora. Au revoir, Raiatea!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
August 11, 2008 - We are now moored outside the Bora Bora Yacht Club.
Posted by Barb Gladney at 6:27 PM