Warm-cool Rapa

Rapa Iti is the remotest island of French Polynesia. There is no airport, the cargo ship only comes once a month (sometimes it skips a visit…) and Raivavae, the nearest neighbouring island, lies 290 nm away. The anchorage inside the huge main bay of Rapa is well protected from waves, but gusts howl down from the mountains whenever there are strong winds–and that seems to be most of the time ;-)

The only two villages of the island lie on the sides of the bay and we used a brief break in the rain to visit both of them yesterday. We are anchored next to Area which is just a cluster of houses (a bit more than 100 people live here) and the main village Haurei (about 400 people) is about half a mile away. That’s where the primary school, the medical centre, the townhall and 3 minimarkets are located. We went to check in with the (only) policeman who opened his office on a Saturday for us. He told us that 2017 only 11 sailboats stopped in Rapa Iti (at the moment Pitufa’s the only boat here), so visitors get an extra-warm welcome here, which makes up for the cool climate: in winter the temperature goes down to 10 degrees and even now in summer we’re wearing long sleeves and socks while the cold front that still lingers brings howling winds and heavy rain to the island.

We met a French catamaran in Raivavae who had been in Rapa before and the friendly couple loaded Pitufa with pineapples for their friends here in Rapa. As they all got ripe during the passage we had to deliver them yesterday despite the rainy weather, so we’ve already made friends in both villages and returned to Pitufa loaded with peaches, bananas, fresh bread, popoi (a paste made from taro roots) and guava syrup :-)

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