For some reason that we never figured out, the boat anchored somewhere (we were in our bunks by this time so I don't know where we were) and we didn't make it to Rangiroa till dawn. Jasmine and I climbed out of our bunks when we felt the movement of the boat change from an open ocean roll to the steadiness of an atoll entry and we were up at the bow as we glided through Avatoru pass into the atoll's immense lagoon (Rangiroa is the second biggest atoll in the world). I think that arrivals and departures are definitely the highlight of taking the supply ships. With the wind in your hair, the first morning light reflecting off perfect turquoise, the excitement of arrival and the complete silence besides the putter of your clunker's engine, it's the quintessential moment of a tropical adventure. Jasmine, at age 11, could feel this as well as me, and she radiated with appreciation of island magic.
The first stop was the Avatoru quay which had much of the same hustle and bustle that we saw in Tikeahau only on Rangiroa there were more flashy pick up trucks and less people at the dock. Rangiroa is the most developed and populated atoll of the Tuamotus, and it was obvious that the arrival of our cargo ship was less of an interesting event here than elsewhere in the archipelago. Someone in each family had the job of picking up all the stuff while everyone else had better things to do - on other atolls, there is very little else to do so everyone comes out to the boat!
This stop was going to be several hours (a big population means lots of stuff to unload) but luckily Jasmine and I had plans. I had just written an article on Rangiroa's bizarre vineyards and winery, Vin de Tahiti, for Islands magazine and I wanted to see if I could get some pictures to go with the article. I had organized this with Vin de Tahiti and sure enough, Mihiroa, a young smiling Tahitian guide for Vin de Tahiti was there at the dock to greet us. We had time to get some pastries, drinks and snacks from a little store before getting in Mihiroa's car to drive a few kilometers to another dock and Vin de Tahiti's boat.
Next: Our visit to Vin de Tahiti.
Note: photos this blog by Celeste Brash