We arrived with the last afternoon light, the sculptural Virgin’s Bay beautiful and golden again for my second visit. Anchoring was difficult because the small, narrow bay was packed with boats and the bottom is rocky. After a few attempts, Teresia’s anchor held and we could sleep.
In the morning we watched the local soccer game by the beach and chatted with sailors who’d just arrived after their Pacific crossing. Alongside the soccer field amongst the spectators, a baby sat tucked into blankets inside a wheelbarrow, an ingenious alternative to a baby carriage.
I walked with Alex through town and bought a bar of dark chocolate at the tiny corner store on our way to the waterfall. This visit felt more relaxing and enjoyable the second time around. As we crossed the river I spotted a mossy human shaped petroglyph carved in a large rock.
We settled into life in Vaitahu for a few days to enjoy the warm community vibe. Alex has a welcoming manner about him, people just walk up to him on the street to give him fruit or offer to show him around the island. Luckily I got to tag along.
Alex met Alexander, husband of Tatiana, who runs a small open air restaurant next to Chez Jimmy. Alex and Alexander hit it off so we hopped in his truck to check out his family’s land.
Tofu, Alexander’s floppy eared black hunting dog, ran alongside and almost underneath the truck as we wound up the red volcanic valley. We passed folks working to free snowy white coconut meat from tough fibrous brown husks. They loaded up the coconut meat to dry under corrugated metal roofs to a partially dehydrated state. Alexander explained they sell this copra by the kilo to a transport ship that comes every two weeks. Copra is pressed to make the perfumed monoi body oil and other cosmetic products. The toasty, sometimes rancid coconut smell finds your nose on the wind throughout town.
We turned off the dirt road to a lush rambling parcel tucked into the steep valleysides. Giant pamplemousse, lime, bread fruit, mango and lychee trees, laden with fruit, accented the low lying volcanic rock wall terraces. Alexander threw a fiber sack over his shoulder and started twisting off pamplemousse.