Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shiriri Saga #46. A Visit with Paul Gauguin.

             Detail. Mahana no Atua. Paul Gauguin.

The lagoon becomes a less than peaceful place as a series of wind and rain storms blow through. The lagoon is often streaked in foam as the waves break right across the reef. After the big introductory thunder squall on our arrival we have been prepared for the worst and as it turns out, that`s always a good way to be. We have lots of chain out on our main Bruce anchor and a second anchor, a heavy Danforth, out at a V angle to it as well. It is annoying to have to tend them because their rodes get twisted together as Shiriri turns with wind and current, but at one in the morning when the wind starts to howl it is very comforting to have all that extra holding power. That extra security also means we can still carry on our normal expeditions ashore to go to town or to visit other boats. The rain also means that Heather can get back to work on the final revision of the second Little Guy book.

Anne finds work again on the mega yacht we met in the Marquesas which is now in the marina at the end of the lagoon waiting to take it`s owner for a cruise. I do boat maintenance. One day Heather and I decide to travel along the coast to visit the Gauguin Museum. We check out the price of a tour and naturally settle for the local Le Truck used by the country people.

As our bus rattles along the coastal road ( there are only coastal roads, as the interior is precipitous mountains) the landscape becomes a flicker of tropical colour: the blue sea and the white foam- fringed reefs of the lagoons, various shades of brilliant green fluttering in the wind, red soil and the bright colours of the women`s clothing. Opposite us on the crowded bus, a mother and her teenage daughter are headed home with their baskets on their laps. The daughter rests her head on her mother`s shoulder and goes to sleep. What a lovely picture, and how unusual a sight this would be at home in North America.

Everyone on the bus is concerned that we get off at the right place and with their help we find ourselves on the roadside and walking off down a side road to the seaside museum. We have read in the local paper that some tourists are feeling let down by this museum, as most of the works are reproductions. We laugh at the thought of his valuable paintings actually being here at all, hung on the cement walls of this open-to-the-air building. We pay our modest entrance fees and spend an interesting hour wandering around, increasingly certain that we have just been travelling in his paintings: here are the colours, patterns, scenes and especially his feeling for the special qualities of the Polynesian people. As we leave, a European couple who arrived ahead of us is noisily demanding their money back and yelling at the young female attendants. Obviously they also have read the paper and now, after a good long look around, see a way to get their money back! I hustle myself off quickly before I can angrily intervene. I have noticed that my time among the elements on the deep blue sea has reduced my tolerance for nasty people and shortened my fuse in an altercation. I`m feeling everything in a powerful elemental way.

The bus does n`t make a return trip to town until the next day so we stick out our thumbs. The first car to give us a ride belongs to some university students on a world trip and our final ride is with a French woman who drives us right to our doorstep. We have met an interesting cross section of characters and that makes it a good day.

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