Rurutu Whalesoruro whales
Rurutu, France-Polynesia: The Polyynesian Isle, which is a different kind of heaven.
On Rurutu there are no above water shelters. Rurutu is not your characteristic island of Polynesia. Rurutu is not visited by many people. Polynesia's northernmost isle, the Austral Islands, is located almost 60 kilometers southward of Papeete. You can also visit this area with your baby calf between June and October.
On the other hand, you have the opportunity to discover the amazing lime stone caverns of the isle. Eroding into rising rocks of old corals, these caverns were once used as shelters by the people. Every cave on the isle is different, some full of galactites and galagmites, others with green fern that grow from debris.
Tupumai Cave's roof is adorned with mussels and coral; the biggest one, Ana a'eo, has many caves and a gap in the top through which the natives spoke to their deity. Coming here to watch whales, I was so excited about the adventure I had been waiting for, especially for half an hours or so, that we were only a few meters away from a mom and her nosy cattle.
But what I had not expected was to be charmed by the whims of living on this strange isle. There are only three small towns in Rurutu, Moerai, Avera and Hauti. I' m living in Avera, in the Pension Teautamatea, one of four inns on the islands. There are some things you can really enjoy about Teautamatea, but its biggest advantage is Elin.
Maybe Elin is the last one expected to run a boarding house on a secluded Polyynesian Isle. Soon after, she got to know her man Viriamu - from one of Rurutus' most important clan - and got to know him, had three kids and opened a guest house. Elin has proven to be a consummate leader with her inside information and external perspective.
In a talk about the change of the isle, she mentioned a new bill according to which all natives have to burry their corpses in the graveyard. We' re going around the entire length of the isle. Elin joked that the luxuriant countryside reflected the rich land of the islands and the heavy rains, "it is the United Kingdom of Tahiti".
That was when the war began, when one of the villages raided another village's tarotare. Today, the land of every single member of the estate is still in perfect condition. Of course, Elin's menu regularly features tartar, but luckily she is imaginative and serves delicious delicacies such as tartaro-skins, tarbecued tona and tango and papaya-crumbles.
There are many walking paths in Rurutu, but not many cafés and pubs. If we are in the spirit for a cup of tea and a cup of cakes, we drive to the capital Moerai. "In Moerai, as in Avera, every home has a well-kept backyard. There is a big contrast to Elin, who twists her eyelash.
"Yes, they wanted the whole isle to do it," says Elin, but Avera refuses. "In Moerai we stop to honour the most important resident of the isle. In contrast to what he may think, this is not the former burgomaster - who still has five flag poles outside his home showing when he is home - but A'a, Rurutu's former deity.
The Rurutans of Polynesia alone chose to turn to Christianity before any evangelists werehed up on their banks. Imported illnesses had hit the islanders badly, and the pragmatical natives ruled that their old deities were no longer up to the task. Several of the chieftains went to a near-by isle, which was already staffed with a missionary to find out more about this peculiar new deity.
Part of their proselytizing, the natives expelled their old deity and gave the evangelists a lovely, once holy woodcarvings of A' a. Author kindly traveled by Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Tourisme.