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Nov
20

In the duck’s beak

We were first eager to get away from Makemo after we’d done all the shopping, as the village anchorage lacks protection and privacy, the water inside the lagoon’s a bit murky and navigation’s really tricky with tons of little bastard-bommies that are hardly visible (no turquoise sand to mark them, just dark coral coming up). But the north-easterlies obviously haven’t looked up the wind statistics for November and haven’t bothered showing up yet, so we’ve decided to stay a bit and give the atoll a chance. Makemo’s shape reminds of a duck and we’re now in the beak in the South-eastern corner, where it’s nice and quiet, just some boats go by to the copra shacks that dot the long northern motu. The only permanently inhabited house is just opposite our anchorage, so we beached the dinghy to say hello yesterday. An elderly Polynesian lives there alone with family members coming by regularly, collecting copra, etc. Hubert’s a real character! He has turned the coral rubble around his house into a kitschy stone garden with flowers and plants growing in every possible container (coconut shells, tin cans, etc.), colourful self-made decorations on shrubs and even on the palm trees around the house (yes, he’s a he-she, men dressing up and acting like women are rather common in the Polynesian society) He showed us around the garden, pointed out local edible plants (a small plant with round leaves and yellow flowers that grows basically everywhere and tastes like something in between young spinach and sorrel; a shrub with leaves that can be boiled as veggies and a special type of coconut on which the outer green bit that you usually hack off with the machete is tender, white and tastes slightly nutty. It was really interesting and that knowledge will help to widen our diet when we get back to remote places again. In return we brought Hubert seeds we still had on the boat (tomatoes, lettuce) and two branches of our spinach to layer and he invited us to share his fish fritters and coconut booze, so we had to row home once more to get some of our home-brewn for him to try ;-) Today we wanted to explore further south, but just when we were ready to lift the anchor huge clouds built up and now it’s dark-grey outside and pouring down, so we’re not leaving and doing indoor chores instead. If it wasn’t so warm it could be a typical November day in Austria ;-)

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