This was my first stop in the Australes archipelago. The island receives very little tourists and therefore it is still an authentic Polynesian island.
There isn’t any French people living on the island except of one photographer who doesn’t seem to be there very often. I went to the pension Moana and I was welcome at the airport by the mother of Moana, Natana, who is taking care of the pension. She is so nice and had nice stories to tell me about the island and how is the life there. Since I was the only guest in the pension I spent my 2 evenings talking with her.
For my full day on the island I wanted to go on the gorgeous pool motu (motu piscine or motu Vaiamanu - a motu is a small sand island) after seeing the pictures taken by my couchhosts when they went there. A guy took me on the motu and I was the only one on this piece of paradise! I just saw 2 other tourists who came for a few minutes to check out the motu. First there wasn’t any wind so I took a walk all the way to the reef side of the motu and when I came back the wind started to blow. I was so excited to kite in this dream lagoon all by myself what I rushed on my gears to set up everything. The wind wasn’t strong enough though... I put down my kite hoping for some more wind and took a swim instead. What a blast in this turquoise warm water!
Finally the wind was blowing pretty strong and I went kiting on this paradise lagoon. No pictures of course ;-) I was over excited for this first session in French Polynesia. I heard from the locals what I was also the first one to come and to kite in the lagoon! Finally I did a premiere kiting and not climbing in Himalayas ;-)
One of the stories of the island, which is sad, is about a Swiss 78 years old man who came on this island. He fell in love with the place which is running at its own peace, and also because he could be away of all the problems happening in our cities/countries which were something he was sad of. Since Natana was on her own after the death of her husband, he asked her if he could stay with her until his death. But she asked him what she should do when it would be his turn. He just wished to be buried on the island and only needed some land for his grave, which she agreed to give him. Everyone agreed for him to stay, but at the end the French authorities didn’t allow him to stay and he had to go back to Switzerland.
At this pension I got only local dishes and I had to take some of the recipes to try to make them at home: Ipo – a kind of coconut bread; and the raw fish in the Tahitian way, which I can eat every single day; plus the grated mangos with carrots as a salad with dressing... yami yami!
On my departure I got the chance to see the most cheerful ceremony at the airport! Part of the kids of the island had to go back to Papeete as it was the end of the holidays for them. And another part was going to Moorea for a sailing event between schools. Locals were playing music, and all the mums came with hands full of flower necklaces. The kids going to Moorea, younger, were already at the airport and lined up when the group leaving for Papeete arrived. They greeted them with flower necklaces all at one time. The teachers and adults taking the kids had the height of their neck full of beautiful flower necklaces. Natana said bye to each single kids as she is apparently the old lady of the island. What a special moment with all those kids around and this ceremony. I was blasted by the love they were giving to each other, all the people of Raivavae.
I also fell in love with this place and I want to come back there... Especially since there is a little paradise bungalow on a motu next the the pool motu. A very rustic one with no electricity, no real comfort, but that’s worth much more than any 5 stars bungalow over any lagoon you can find in French Polynesia.
Raivavae, my little lost paradise on Earth!