The crowning part of the course is when a young boy is finally able to stand at the end of Papaloa, and dares a jump into the water, especially during high tide. A jump at low tide is a step closer to completing the course. Initial stages consist of jumping off from either side, as you work your way towards the tip of the rock, then swimming to shore against the current of the receding tide. Sometimes if you’re not strong, and/or get a timely and firm grip of part of the promontory, the current can take you out to deeper parts of the lagoon. The more advanced stages of the course happen as you jump off closer to the tip of the rock. From the root to the apex of the rock, the entire initiation progress can take days, months and even years for some boys, mainly the timid and the fainthearted.
By the time a boy reaches the end and jumps off, the challenge is not so much in swimming back to shore but in fighting the occasional whirlpool (created by converging currents), as well as the resulting centrifugal current that carries you farther out to sea towards the reef channel several yards away where the rapids are stronger and more treacherous. (The centrifugal current is indicated clearly by the lighter stretch in this picture (circled red). The clear color is from the precipitated sand that the current sucks off from the sandy base of Papaloa, and from the shallow parts closer to shore.)
For the older and initiated boys, Papaloa becomes a setting and set for their faiga-kaupoe (movie re-enactments), especially on Sundays, hence in direct defiance of village Sabbath rules. Western and war movies are the favorites. And the Papaloa set makes death and injury a pleasure for the actors as the victims feign their fates with prearranged falls into the warm water. In other words, boys enjoy being shot at and so they would intentionally abandon their cover and stand on the rock to invite enemy fire - all for the thrill and enjoyment of a thunderous splash in the water. Like in the “real” movies, there’s always a safety net below for the fallen. Boys become immortal too during these re-enactments because they revive themselves in the water and live to fight again in another scene or another "movie".
|...leai, pei a ua fai si uli kele o le auali'i ia ..hahaa!|