At the Polynesian Cultural center we participated in a celebration of the historically significant Ti plant. The Ti plant has long been important to the Tahitian people. It was used for religious ceremonies and planted in religious temples. It was used for medicinal purposes and the root was used for washing and cleaning.
We first watched them make hats, headdresses and costumes for later performances. Katie from Mermaid learned how to use the root to make soapy water with Bill from Canik looking on.
Later a performance of native dancing and singing was staged by volunteers of the center. The singing was incredible and I will try to get the video camera out and record some music before we leave French Polynesia.
After the performance the performers were invited to plant a Ti plant to ensure this plant of good fortune would be available next year and for future generations. We were each given a Ti plant to share in the ceremony. Bill and Linda of Canik treated it as a photo op. Bill may have political aspirations when he returns to Canada.
After the Ti plants were safely in the ground it was time to test our faith in the magic of the Ti plant. On a low raised alter behind the performers a pit with burning coals and rocks on top had been smoldering all day. Tahitian warriors entered the alter and stirred the fire pit to ensure that the rocks were burning hot. A Tahitian holy man approached the pit and shook a handful of Ti leaves at the rocks. Now they would not burn the feet of a believer. He walked across the pit. He walked its entire length. He walked back. He brought his daughter of 8 years with him. For real proof he sought a volunteer from the audience. Well, if an eight year old could do it, so could I. As I started out I could see the red coals glowing under the rocks. My feet were telling me it was pretty hot but my brain was saying just keep walking. After I completed the trip my feet still burned but they did not blister or even hurt after a few minutes so the Ti leaves came through.
We rented a car with Dick and Katie of Mermaid. We could have traveled the island by local bus known as "Le Truk" but we decided that splitting a car was affordable. We visited all of the normal stops in our guide book like the Arahoho blowhole and the Tefa'aurumai waterfall.
We visited the Harrison Smith botanical garden but it was raining so hard we decided to pass. The Maraa Fern Grotto was very interesting but too dark for pictures. The Marae Arahurahu temple pictured below is the only restored temple in Tahiti. It was strangely peaceful and an interesting mix of ancient carvings and recent additions. The landscaping integrated with the ruins. Notice the green leafy Ti plants within the temple.
Canoe racing is a big deal in Polynesia and a big race was held right around our anchored boat in Papeete harbor. The boats and crews were positioned on the beach behind our boat and the cones raced in front of our boats to the finish. It was very exciting. One, three and six person boats raced in men's and women's divisions. These things could really move.
There is an excellent dive off of the airport inside the reef. It is an easy dive to make by dinghy from Papeete Harbor or Meava Beach anchorage. In one dive you can see an old wooden steamship wreck and a sunken Catalina seaplane. The wreck lies in 75 feet of water in a cove north of the control tower. The cove extends from the inner passage out into the reef toward the sea. There is a mooring buoy on the west side of the cove which is attached to the wreck and a dinghy may be anchored in shallow sand just off of this buoy. Check it out.