Notes on Hao

July 2017 – S 18°06.18′ – W 140°94.73′ //// Hao-Tuamotus //// //// On Hao we were able to relax for the first time since we left Valdivia, because we moored Kalibu in the old harbor of the French Marine. No swell, no corrals, no slipping anchor … nothing to worry about. A very well sheltered place with a small beach nearby. Only the roosters get on your nerves after a while. They really make sure that nobody sleeps after sunrise. //// This motu – 250 meters wide and 25 km long – with the village Otepa has been developed by France as a support base for the nearby Mururoa atoll where nuclear weapons have been tested up until the late nineties. Today many of the buildings are deteriorating or – the more pleasant option – they are re-used by locals as their homes. Like for example the former casino of the harbor. The building is clearly far to enclosed, to big and not very suitable for the Polynesian life-style. This creates bizarre situations, like for example the guard house being used as a place for drying the family laundry. Or an improvised outdoor kitchen next to the large casino building. When the French retransfered the land to the former owner families after they left, some families had grown rapidly, so we have been told. Sounds all too human. //// Comparable with the Gambiers we met some people who openly expressed their dislike about the French exertion of influence – Polynesia is French territory but not EU. Apparently today about 1/5 of the population on Hao wish to become independent from France. The remaining 4/5 are most likely either French or households which are supported by the French government, i.e. where the main income comes from the municipality or likewise. Not a very healthy economic foundation. Looks like the Chinese are trying to take advantage by attempting to set up a big fish-farm in the lagoon, promising work and independent money for Hao. We are only hoping that some influential people have the farsightedness and power to prevent this venture. The impact on nature can only be worse than what we experienced in Chile with the salmoneras. As for the salmoneras the profits did not remain in Chile, only the inherited waste. //// Yet in terms of pollution the Polynesians have far worse to deal with already. On Mururoa there are 140 bore-holes (source: wikipedia) filled with nuclear waste. On Hao there are two of them, that is what locals told us. Plus all sorts of waste which has been dumped in the lagoon before the military forces left. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was not granted permission to enter the lagoon. Even though this doesn’t proof anything, it gives reason to start worrying. The rumor is that the Mururoa atoll is not stable any longer. The 3000m high coral mountain which forms the atoll is supposedly cracked by the underground tests. Its tilting and the ground level is sinking below sea level. At high tide the roads are apparently flooded with seawater. Sounds like a ticking time bomb. //// Bastille Day on Hao – all people who attended the défilé in the morning also took part in the parade, roughly 150-200. That means many were simply not interested. Maybe because Bastille Day happens just by coincidence in the middle of the local Heiva festivities? Heiva is a big event and sums up all sorts of competitions: dance, singing, sports competitions, canoe races, fishing competitions and so on. For almost one month it is an ongoing event and the winners are local celebrities. Bastille day is like a presentation ceremony for those. For us it was great, because we had the opportunity to admire the local dance groups in full costumes. These were already entertaining us for the last two weeks by practicing next to our boat in the harbor every evening. Plus, we met the mayor and got invited by him personally for a buffet after the presentations. //// Last but not least. Images will follow. Internet is very poor here and expensive as well. The local policeman provides fresh tuna. I got ciguatera – fortunately only a light reaction – from the very same fish. We got diesel delivered right to the boat, very comfortable.

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