The Tuamotu’s are the second largest group of coral atolls in the world and famous for many things. Initially known as the dangerous isles by sailors, the Tuamotu’s are virtually unobservable more than 8nm offshore and are strewn with marker and unmarked reefs and shoals. Sailing directions of yore just advised to steer well clear of the whole area.
The name may also ring a bell due to the incredible black pearls grown in the stunning lagoons, or maybe the prolific nuclear testing that the French conducted in the islands, or maybe because they will be one of the first to disappear if sea-levels do rise as suggested…
We landed in the Tuamotu’s dreaming of reeling reef breaks and completely uncrowded surf. We got one portion of our wishes: uncrowded surf. They was no-one in the water. Maybe it was because the tiny ankle-ticklers were breaking in 1cm of water?
So in order to pass the time, we rolled around the small village, hung out with the kids and practiced our French. Wandering by the school yard we could not help but notice how all the mom’s arrived to pick up their kids on these weird looking, giant tricycles. Groceries? Nope… as soon as the bell rang (or the conch blown?) all the kids piled out of the school, jumped into the oversized grocery carriers and heckled each other while their moms’ rode them home!
We also spend a day wandering on some of the small motu’s (mini islands) looking at all the trash washed up from directions east of here. (Think Peru, Chile, etc…) We found TV parts, plastic bottles, Ken’s (Barbie’s Husbands) arm and all sorts of treasures (read: plastic garbage). One thing we kept noticing were burn piles filled with just Heineken beer bottle and cans. Weird, we thought, since Hinano, the local beverage of choice was tasty and relatively inexpensive – so where were all those bottles and cans?
Chatting to some of the locals later, we discovered that Hinano has a deposit system on their bottles and cans, while Heineken does not. So the locals are all very diligent about returning and keeping their Hinano bottles, to get their money back, while they are always looking for new ways to try and dispose of their used Heineken bottles. I just wish we could have somehow collected all the Heineken bottles and cans up, dropped them on Heinekens’ doorstep and shown them what destruction their bottles were causing.
Small things can make a huge difference and beverage bottle deposits do work…