Sometimes the stars truly align, and today was one of those days. A last minute destination change resulted in a once in a lifetime experience. This is how the story goes.
Our original destination was the Blue Lagoon in Rangiroa. Due to unexpected circumstances, destiny wanted us to go somewhere else. That location was the Green Lagoon in Rangiroa. Coconut trees surround this beautiful sandy beach, one of the two entrances to Rangiroa.
The Green Lagoon was also the destination of the traditional voyaging canoe, Fa’afaite. Fa’afaite left Tahiti four days ago with a crew, navigator trainees, and Punua, a Master Mariner.
During the morning, the Fa’afaite entered Rangiroa with its beautiful silhouette marked by two sails. The crew made its way to the white sandy beach. Tua, our cultural navigator and naturalist, greeted the crew in Polynesian. Punua and the crew chanted back. Hakus and heis were exchanged (ornamentation for the head and shoulders made by vines), and right in front of our eyes, a beautiful ceremony occurred.
Green Lagoon in Rangiroa is home of the Rangiroa Paepae, a sacred platform where stones from all over Polynesia are brought by cultural navigators. The Rangiroa Paepae has stones from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Easter Island…but additions from other locations are still needed. And this was the chance for the Rangiroa Paepae to receive a stone from the Cook Islands.
Fifteen years ago, Tua, our cultural navigator and naturalist, gave Punua, the Polynesian Master Mariner, a stone from his archipelago, the Cook Islands, to be placed in the Rangiroa Paepae. Punua kept the stone for fifteen years as he thought it was not his place to add the stone. He knew that, sooner or later, destiny would bring Tua to the Green Lagoon. And today was the day. After fifteen long years, that stone from the Cook Islands was placed in the Paepae. During the ceremony, Tua added the stone from his island, spiritually connecting the sacred platform with his island.
After that, we all formed a circle while holding hands. The Fa’afaite crew chanted to honor and pray for the luck of all the navigating canoes of Polynesia.
What a unique, once in a lifetime experience.
During the afternoon, we celebrated the day with a beautiful snorkel at the Aquarium, just by the Tiputa Pass.