I went to a local church today. Every single woman was wearing a hat. It's like in the Southern Black churches. Most of the hats are woven decorated with elaborate flowers made out of the same straw as the hats. I understood one word during the whole service, "maruuru" which means thank you. It was entirely in Tahitian, not french. Even so, I understood the spirit and the beauty of the music. At the end, a man came up to me and started speaking French. I understood "we have...tradition.." at which point I interrupted and said, "I don't speak French". He said OK and pointed to a spot and said, "Stand here." I was in between the pastor's wife and the pastor. We were a receiving line. The colorful string of Polynesian church-goers gave the traditional French greeting to each of us. A kiss to each cheek. I pressed cheeks with about 40 beautiful complete strangers. Walking home, I could still smell the perfume on my face and feel the burn in my cheeks of having smiled for so long at so many people.
Monday, August 3
Today, Brian woke up able to move much better than since his injury on Friday evening. I've been giving him massages and he's been taking pain pills and muscle relaxers and icing. So we left Teahupoo after a last visit with Vaughan, the single hander cruiser from Hawaii on the dock next to us. Here's Brian's description of his injury written the morning after the incident(Saturday)....
Actually I think Tahiti has gotten the better of me. Several casualties have occurred up to this point including two broken boards, lots of lost skin, then this: I got my behind kicked hard. The big local with the helmet passed on a set wave. Then one of the older Brazilian guys called me into a wave because he could not get in. All seemed perfect, then the bottom dropped out on me and I free fell to the flats. All my momentum was going down, so when I hit the bottom I think I just stopped. I'm not sure what happened, but I think at that point the wave sucked me back up and threw me out. The first to hit reef was my butt. It was a very solid hit, then I felt my left booty getting ripped off and my heel ripping across the reef. I don't remember coming up, but when I did, I knew I was hurt pretty bad. By the time I made it back out to the lineup I was shaking; like in shock. At first I thought I'd have to paddle for the boat; but I remembered reading a Transworld Surf article of a guy at Teahupoo who hit bottom very hard, then went on to score the wave of the day. I told myself to shake it off and go for another wave. About 15 minutes later I got a small one. I was having a hard time standing up for the ride. The next wave was smaller, and not even a real ride. By this time I was coughing up junk from deep in my lungs that had been knocked loose in the collision. My entire rib cage was aching, as if it had all been jarred to the point of loosening up the connective tissue to the spine and sternum. I was still Coughing, shuttering, and trying to shake off the impact at least 45 minutes after the pounding. Finally a good medium sized set came and I got my third wave. I could hardly get my body into surf stance, so I decided I was going to have to call it a day. As soon as I got to the dingy, the wind was increasing and I was had a hard time just getting in the boat. I dreaded the trip home as the wind had increased to 15 -20 knots, creating half knee high square wind chop that I had to drive straight into for 6-7 kilometers. I banged into it sitting down until I could not take it any more. Next I took the bow line in hand, negotiated my two pieces of broken board from a few days prior that were lodged into the floor of the boat and stood up in order to absorb the shocks. About a half way to Nomad the rain began to fall. Now I was coughing, shuttering, in shock, and cold, furthermore it was getting dark. The last half of the way I had to sit down, reduce speed a bit, and tack up the lagoon to the point that obscured marina Teahupoo. After getting aboard I made myself take a warm shower, dress the reef rash on my foot and leg and put on some warm pajamas.
My neck is whip lashed to the max. That is the most painful part of it all. I have been using a big fleece blanket wound around my neck as a neck brace. I wish I had one of the braces people use after a car accident. All of my ribs are sore where they connect to the spine, and the muscles are tweaked on my right side. When I take deep breaths I hear the ribs and spine cracking and adjusting, over and over. The right side of my butt has one solid inch of circumference added to it. Megan has been monitoring it's size and color, waiting for the bruising to start. She says it is like I have a water balloon implanted underneath the skin. I can't even look at my toes, so its hard for me to know exactly how big it looks, but she seems very impressed. (I am!) This is the biggest hit I've every taken surfing by a long shot.
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