Visiting Penrhyn

In People, Voyages on 28/11/2010 at 22:12

We have spent the last week on Penrhyn making many, many and many new friends. The people of Penrhyn are amazingly friendly and hospitable. We have spent much of our time making friends with the locals, especially the children, helping out where we could, joining in on all the activities on the island, witnessed enchanting singing in church and we have seen our first Manta ray at 20 meters deep while dolphins were playing above us.

Penrhyn People

We had a warm welcome from the people of Perhyn. We were anchored in front of Omoka village, the main village of the island. There are about 300 people living here. People seem to live a good live here, they look happy and satisfied to be on the island. They have the best of traditional and modern life. When they need food they can go out fishing, get some coconuts our eat one of their pigs. Drinking water they get out of the skies and collect in watertanks. But they also have internet, satellite tv and electricity.

The main problem right now on the island is the grounding of the supply ship. Because of this they haven’t had any supplies delivered in six months. We were very happy we had brought along many goods for trading, because there was a shortage on the island for almost everything: from milk powder to toilet paper to sunglasses. As the oranges we bought on Raiatea weren’t going to last as long as we thought they would, Rolf made himself very popular with the Penrhyn-children and will probably be remembered by them as the “orange-man”.

Busy, busy, busy

Before we got here we had wondered: aren’t people bored on an island like this. Now we know: no,  they are always busy with some activity or another. During the week we where there, there were village meetings, daily volleyball games, a walk-a-thon, an island picnic, bible study-exams, a parade, a village lunch, preparations for the elections in the next week and probably more we haven’t even heard about. We were invited to a lot of these activities and tried to join in as best as we could.

Local food

Rangi and his family invited us to their home and served us a meal of delicious local food. The main food sources on the island are fish, coconut, breadfruit and bananas. It’s amazing what you can do with these ingredients, we ate raw fish in coconutmilk, coconut “cookies”, oysters in coconut cream, fried fish, baked reef fish,  fried breadfruit, soft ripe bananas and drank coconut water and a mixture of coconut flesh and water that reminded Rolf of ricepudding.

The hats

The main source of income for Penrhyn are the hats, fans and bags the ladies of the island make out of palm leaves. These are unique to this island and shipped and sold to Rarotonga, New Zeeland or Australia. We were lucky enough to trade for a beautiful hat for both of us.

It’s a lot of work to make a hat like this. First the men go out and cut of the young coconut leaves, then the leaves are split with a needle and the soft part is separated. This soft part is then cooked and dried. Somehow the ladies weave the dried leaves into a hat (we are still baffled by how they do this). All the hats from this island have an oval piece of mother of pearl in the top.

In the picture you see Rangi and his family separating and cooking the leaves.

Church and the Uniforms

The church plays an important part in daily live on Penrhyn. There are services on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 5 am, and then Sunday at 10 am and 3 pm again. The “Uniforms” are the activity groups for the children of the island, there are Girl Guides, the Boys Brigade and the Girls Brigade. Somehow these are closely related with church, but we didn’t quite find out how.

On the Sunday we went to church (only the 10 am service) it was also some sort of years end for the Uniforms activities. Because of this there was a parade before church and a lunch after, for which we were invited by the minister. We had a lovely lunch and a wonderful time taking pictures of everyone there. As a way of saying thanks for all the hospitality we encountered, we printed out some of the nicest pictures.

Neli and Nesja

As soon as we arrived, we met up with Neli and Nesja of the Basjako. They have spent the last few months in the Marquesas and we were really happy to see them again on Penrhyn.

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