Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pearl farming!

Turns out the owner of the only operational pearl farm left on Kauehi, also the owner of the local 'magazin', and the town's newly elected mayor gave us the tour personally! A 20 minute ride in the back of his pickup with stops at the new airport (plane coming in this PM apparently), where he also has the concession stand, and another stop where a local entrepreneur was in the final stages of building a 'pensione' or bungalow to rent to tourists. Quite a nice place on the water! The pearl farm
was very interesting. Our timing could not have been better as he had two young Chinese girls employed for two months to seed the oysters. We were taken through the entire process from growing the 'naissan' or young oysters, harvesting them to implant the synthetically produced bio-chemical nucleus with a dab of irritant taken from another oyster to cause the pearl to form. Some are rejected by the oysters but most become pearls and are harvested after twelve months hanging in the sea. He then
brought out his big 'treasure' case and spread out two piles of black pearls on a white cloth. He was charging 1500f (about $20) for the larger ones and 1000f for the smaller. The other three boats bought quite a few but we only picked out a half dozen. Then he gave everyone a handful for free and had everyone close their eyes and pick one at random from a pile.
Back in town, his wife asked if we would be interested in a dinner! Talk about your pizza deprived yuppies....and she only wanted 700f per person (about $10) so we agreed to return at 7 to their house. Getting in to shore in the dark, navigating around the coral heads, was interesting but we managed, along with three other boats and were treated to two kinds of very nice fish, chicken, a salad of sorts, rice, juice and pears for dessert! It was fun and a nice change from cooking and cleaning on
Met our fisherman friend, RiriFatu on the road in town and the grandmother had woven hats for both of us out of palm leaves! This man was a pleasure to meet and we will miss him but tomorrow we have decided it is definitely time to move on!
We had planned on a direct route to Papeete but after raising the anchor at first light and motoring out the pass (no trauma this time).....we found no wind at all. We motored 30 miles to the next atoll, Fakarava, and pulled in for the night, determined to wait for wind to sail the 200 miles to Tahiti.

No comments: