Sunday, April 10, 2011

Island Life

Our first few minutes on land...see Savannah in the back!

Our first day here was exactly what it should be… relaxing, sunny, full of exploration.  After a glorious nights sleep, we had breakfast and got ready to go to shore to check in.  We called our Agent, Sandra on the radio and after a bit we took the dinghy to shore to meet her.  She drove us the two miles or so to town and helped us with all of our paperwork for checking into the country… which was virtually nothing.  All they wanted was our bond exemption paper that we received from our agent in Tahiti and our passports and boat documentation.  They didn’t even glance at our Zarpa from Mexico or the equipment list we had.  The whole process only took about 10 minutes.  I’m not sure if it’s because we had the agent or because it’s just that laid back, but we sure did appreciate it.  After a few Merci’s and getting directions to the bank, we said goodbye to our agent and set about our exploration. 

I never really appreciated how much Spanish we actually knew until I was standing at the counter at the bank trying to speak French.  It was a site for sure…  I had my “French for Cruisers” book out (highly recommend it already) and my hand gestures ready.  All I was trying to say was that I needed Pacific Francs.  Well, I butchered it…  but lucky for me the guy spoke in perfect English “The ATM is outside”. 
“Yes, but it has no money”
“You need to talk to him” and he pointed to the next window over.  Lucky me, he spoke English too.  They were a bit grumpy so I tried to participate by asking them how to say certain things and pointing out the Tapa on the wall (they make beautiful almost fabric like pieces here out of bark, I’m sure I’ll write more on that later as I fully plan on finding me one).  In the end, they only loosened up a little but I got my “Trent Mil Francs” and left feeling like I had accomplished something.

Speaking of money and Francs….THEY’RE HUGE!!  It’s like trying to fit a bunch of postcards in your pocket.  And the coins are just as big… the smallest one I got was the size of our silver dollar.  I can’t quit looking at them.  And we’re dealing in large numbers here.  They come in denominations of 5000, 1000, 500, etc.  The coins are 100, 50, 20, 5.  The exchange rate is about 80 Francs/ 1 dllr right now so trying to do the math in your head can get a bit complicated with all those zeros.  I totally sympathize with those people in Mexico who used to get confused with the conversion (I thought they were just mathematically challenged).  When you have no grasp of the language or the money, you just feel lost.  But so far, it’s a good lost…it’s kind of fun.

Everything we heard about the prices is true…they astronomical.  Luckily we didn’t need anything so we just wasted our money on some sodas and lunch.  I did buy some veggies because they were absolutely beautiful, but for 3 eggplants, 1 bag of bok choy, a large cucumber and 2 grapefruit thingys, I paid almost $10.  Our lunch consisted of two hamburgers (no fries), 1 large bowl of fried rice, 1 juice, 4 beers and it was….hold your breath….grab your seat…. $65!  The beer was good, but really… it’s a good thing we still have a ton of Tacate from Mexico left!

There are quite a few stores and they’re stocked with everything you could need and then some, but the prices continue to amaze me…a jar of Skippy peanut butter was $990 Francs – over $10.  But it was fun going up and down the isles…they have tons of makings for Chinese food, lots of meat (albeit not stuff we normally eat – lamb, goat, etc.), really good cheeses.  They even have Nike Air tennis shoes.  They have all the fishing lures you could possibly want and all the hardware stuff you would need for repairs.   Lucky for us, we don’t really need anything right now.  Hopefully we won’t need anything until Tahiti so we can save a little money.

We finally headed on the 2 mile trek back to the boat.  We found a tiny shortcut that met Jake’s requirements for hiking in the woods and met my requirement for shade.  When we got back to the boat, I lugged out our wifi booster to see if I could get a connection.  Sure I could….for $5/an hour!!!  So everyone who had all those fancy requests for changing the blog and/or maps or had any ideas of me going back and posting pictures for each blog…sorry!  Not going to happen!  What I decided to do was just do one big blog post with all the pictures as that won’t take as long.  So look for that coming shortly after you read this. 

We ended our day with cocktail hour(s) with our fellow “yachties” from Songline, Sara Jean II, and Lardo…all very nice people that we had not yet met in person but had talked to every night on the radio during our crossing.  It was fun to hear about their experiences…Songline was out there for 37 days!!!   Lardo made the same time we did, 21 ½ days, and Sara Jean II beat us all at 19 days.  All of our boats are very different and we obviously had different strategies for getting here (ours being very simple….just get there), but everyone is pretty giddy about it.

Today is a lazy day…Jake’s watching movies, I’m going to do laundry (you would think I would be done with that by now…but everyone keeps wearing their clothes!) and Andy is building a set of dinghy wheels to make our life easier.  Looking forward to another day in paradise!

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