May 2000 - Cycling for pearls
Posted on 15 May
I LOVE CYCLING
We sailed to Rangiroa. When we got there I jumped in the water STRAIGHT AWAY. The water is SO clear! I want to live here it is so beautiful. When you go ashore you hear little birds singing and the rustle of the leaves of the palm trees. That afternoon we just drank our cold drinks and chilled out.
The next day Me, Hannah, Bob and Simon went snorkelling and Ed, Dad and Mum went diving. Us snorkellers came back after about 1 hr and 10 minutes (not much to see) and had tea. We were just leaving to have a drink (we left a note saying we were ‘fed up, call on VHF channel 16 if you want to join us for a drink at the hotel’) when they came back (bother) and we had to wait a while for them to get ready.
The next day we went cycling to the village on bicycles. It was a long way, about 7km there and 7km back. 9 or 10 miles. But it was still very fun! That afternoon we swam around the boat.
The next day we went to see Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was beautiful! The colours were from white to baby blue to indigo. We walked along the island (very small) and then had lunch. It was barbequed fish. Yum yum. After lunch I caught a small fish with a 6 year old boy’s rod and let it swim off happily again. Then we went to Shark City. They fed the sharks and the sharks ate it all up like savages. They were black tip sharks and completely harmless. After that we went snorkelling. We saw sharks and lots of nice fishes and coral. Then we went back to... Lazy Duck. On the way we saw manta rays doing somersaults. They were on the surface and looked extremely beautiful. When they somersaulted you could see their gills. It was wonderful.
Today we went to the pearl farm. Mum and Bob bought some pearls (Mum said I could inherit hers ha ha!) and we all got two oyste shells each. They have a beautiful colour (mother-of-pearl) inside. We were told about how they get the pearls. We looked at the smooth pearl and the keschi (a knobbly kind of pearl).
FINDING THE RIGHT OYSTER
1. They breed a particular kind of oyster. That oyster is the kind that makes black pearls.
2. The oyster is flat and circular with about 12cm as a diameter. They are brown in colour and have a knobbly outside shell. The inside is smooth and with a sheen of mother-of-pearl.
3. If a piece of grit gets inside the oyster, it hates the feeling, so what it does is to cover it with layers and layers of mother-of-pearl. After a few years it will have made a pearl.
4. The pearl farms make what are called ‘cultured pearls’. That means that the grit is put in on purpose. The Japanese are especially trained to take the pearl out and put a nucleus in. A nucleus is made from shell. It comes from the Mississippi river in America. The Japanese are also trained to make shell into nucleus.
5. We saw a team of four people who were seeding the pearls. One man was prising open the shell (only 2cm open) and dumped them in a box. The ones he broke he took the pearl out and threw the oyster away (for it was dead once it was broken). Two men were taking the latest pearls out of the oyster and putting in the nucleus. To one oyster this could only happen three times to them, for then they can’t produce any more pearls. The other man was putting the oysters with nucleus onto a string, where they can be collected again after two years to have the pearls.
6. The oysters which reject the nucleus instead make their own pearl called keschi. This pearl is knobbly and instead of having nucleus inside the pearl they have only their mother-of-pearl. So if the oyster doesn’t make the smooth round pearl, the Japanese take the keschi out, sell it, but don’t use that oyster again.
7. Once the oyster is on the string, it gets put in the water attached to a buoy, and they are quite happy, thinking they are on a rock so they set to work again making a pearl, keschi or smooth. Every now and again the people wash them like you brushing your teeth, so that the algi doesn’t infect the oyster. So the men keep it healthy so that the pearl can be produced.
We met up with the geese. We had drinks with them. The geese are the Scottish people on Friar’s Goose. We call them the Geese. That night we went to Koi Koi, a restaurant. All the crew, apart from me, Hannah and Dad had mahi mahi (which is the Polynesian way of saying Lampuka/ Dorado/ Dolphin fish). I had steak which was yum yum. The next day we left for TAHITI!! It took two days and one night. When we got there we tied up. That night I had a pizza at a restaurant. The next night we had a concert. Paul, Tress, Mark, Ed, Bob, Simon and Kiko were there watching and we all had a lovely time singing new songs together.