Jan – Jericho
Here we are, in Rarotonga, for the 2011 Vaka Eiva (http://www.vakaeiva.com). Been here just over a week now. Today is the canoe blessing and opening ceremonies, tomorrow the races begin with the OC1 and V1 events.
There are 12 women here racing for Jericho and 3 guys that will be racing with other paddlers from NZ and Samoa. We’ve been very warmly welcomed, and have been interviewed for both the local newspaper and TV station as the team that has travelled the greatest distance! We’ve been practicing, wandering, eating and enjoying this lovely island.
Weather has been spectacular and the winds are picking up. The whole island is surrounded by a reef and the local crews have a big advantage, knowing how close they can get to that reef, without damaging a canoe (as one team did last year – actually breaking a canoe in half!).
As part of the whole community spirit approach to the event, yesterday we visited a local school and had a great time. We were treated to all the local fruits, fresh from the shell coconut juice and grated coconut, had crowns and skirts made for us from palm leaves, and were shown how to husk coconuts. Strangely, they didn’t let us handle the machetes! All the different grades sang us a tune or two and to finish off the show, they asked us to sing O Canada! We got through that without too much embarrassment…. We passed around some souvenirs, including a foamy puck head hat from the Vancouver Giants. I asked the students ‘Who should wear the official puck head?’ and they all agreed – the principal! Pictures will be coming…
Today we are going to paddle canoes from one race site to another, about a 9 km paddle. It’s about 28C right now, so it’ll be a good test of paddling in the heat.
More to come – Internet access is spotty so updates may not be regular. Pictures will have to wait until we get home.