Thursday, July 2, 2015

Marquesas Coda
By Michael
TUAMOTUS, FRENCH POLYNESIA


This snail was really big, three times the size of any
snail I've seen in the States. Frances fed him for
twenty minutes.

FARKWAR NOTE: Click here to see where we are now (and click a map marker to see a note from Windy).

We spent over six-weeks in the Marquesas. We explored the islands of Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Nuku Hiva, and Ou Pou, all within a half-day to overnight sail of one another. Now we’re gone, a four-night sail south-southwestward took us to the Tuamotus, a very different place.


While the Marquesas and Marquesans are still fresh in my mind, I want to cover some of what we learned and encountered while there.






People
 
Marriage notice displayed outside
a government building on Tahuata.
If we’d left the Marquesas after our first several days in Fatu Hiva, I’d have a very different perspective than I have now. There are fewer than 10,000 Marquesans living in several small communities on a few islands. And yet, I feel we had to visit as many as we did and spend the time we did to get a sense of these people—and all I am left with is my sense, I don’t pretend to believe I have everything figured out.
 
We met the occasional odd ducks, mostly on Fatu Hiva, but also on Tahuata, both times in comparatively isolated communities. We never felt threatened, but we did feel uncomfortable, in the sense that we knew somebody wanted something from us or to communicate something to us, but we were never able to connect—despite good intentions. But…
 
We also came to know Marquesans as among the kindest, proudest people we’ve encountered traveling. Walking through Marquesan communities, we almost always had the sense that people were ready to give us the shirts off their backs. I’m wired to be skeptical. Presented with generosity after generosity, I wondered repeatedly what the catch was, only to feel shame again and again when I learned there was none.

This woven decoration was erected outside
this store for Mother's Day.
There is trouble in paradise too. We were cautioned a few times by older Marquesans not to leave shoes or hats or anything else of value in our dinghy, because the younger people would steal them. We heard that teen pregnancy is nearly the norm. We read about more serious problems like incest.
Yet, we almost always got a warm, kind, helpful vibe from people we met. People went out of their way to give us rides in their car. Vendors nearly always slipped us extras as we shopped. People came out of their homes to give us food from their trees as we walked past.
The Marquesans seem idle, people who have free time because they live among abundance. The trees are heavy with more food than the population can consume. The Marquesans don’t seem to take the beauty and richness of their landscape for granted. I don’t know how this can be. I suspect if I grew up here and this was all I knew, the smell of the flowers in the air and the lush greenery would become invisible. I suspect I would come to resent this blue ocean that borders my world and isolates me. Surely I’d grow tired of coconut and pamplemousse. Yet, over and over people expressed to us genuine enthusiasm and appreciation and pride about their home.

A lot of Marquesans smoke. Women often wear tropical flowers behind an ear in their regular lives. Many of the men are fit and many women are obese. Some men, called mahu, are raised as girls, and continue on to live their lives as women.
 
Food

Carrots in Hiva Oa, right after the supply
ship arrived. These are over US$4 per kilo.
Marquesan food includes a lot of pigs, goats, and the local produce (pamplemousse, bananas, string beans, oranges, limes, breadfruit, coconut, and a few others I don’t know the names for). It also includes a lot of baguettes and Chinese stuff. Egg rolls are popular—pre-made and sold at every grocery counter, cold. Sometimes there is meat inside, sometimes not. A popular sandwich is a section of a baguette sliced open and filled with chow mien noodles. The store shelves include a lot of Chinese products and condiments. There are also a lot of French products, such as frozen and canned snails, duck and other pates, and soft cheeses galore. There is canned butter from New Zealand and boxed UHT milk from France and Germany. The local Hinano beer is from Tahiti, there is wine from Europe. The only breakfast cereal available are a few off-label equivalents of things like Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops.

Almost everything is very, very expensive. Those boxes of crappy cereal are 600-700 French Pacific francs (XPF, and the XPF to dollar exchange rate is roughly 100:1). The wine is 1500-2800 XPF per bottle. Windy (read: not me) paid 900 XPF for a head of purple cabbage. But, if you brought a literal boat load of food with you from Mexico, and you like the local produce, and you don’t eat out, the cost of eating in the Marquesas isn’t high. Also, in every store, all the items with red price tags are subsidized. We were able to buy baguettes for 64 XPF. Liters of milk are 114-126 XPF. Canned butter and pasta and some canned vegetables are also subsidized.

Our last anchorage in the Marquesas, on
Ua Pou.
There have been very few restaurants to tempt us. The only time we went out to eat was at a formal pig roast in a private home with about 30 other cruisers.

Fun

Off the boat, we’ve spent our time snorkeling (when we’ve been in anchorages away from the big communities on Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva). The water clarity isn’t like the Tuamotus, but it’s been okay. We go on walks and hikes. We talk to people. We stumble on singing and dancing rehearsals sometimes. We went to the Gaugain museum on Hiva Oa.

Many people we’ve met have rented cars and toured the islands, or gone on private, all-day organized tours. We’ve heard great things from both groups, but we’ve not been able to justify the expense. It costs about US$120 a day to rent a car and the tours are US$40-50 per person.

Anchoring
 
Sunset from the spreaders, Fatu Hiva.
We dropped the hook in 140 feet of water to anchor at the back of a pack of 20 boats in Fatu Hiva. It’s not since been that deep. But, most of the anchorages are a bit rolly and in Hiva Oa, we had no choice but to use a stern anchor as the anchorage is small and crowded. There were a few boats just outside the anchorage swinging on a single hook, but it looked pretty rolly out there. In Nuku Hiva, many folks used stern anchors to keep their boats pitching instead of rolling, but we did not—it wasn’t so bad.

In general, the anchorages were rolly and not well protected--but also not as bad as we expected, given what we'd heard. Then again, writing as I am from the flat calm of a Tuamotu atoll anchorage, I don't miss the rolling.

Internet

We enjoyed the best internet in all of the Marquesas at our first, most remote, anchorage, off Fatu Hiva. There is a wifi tower there and we were able to access it from the boat using our wifi antenna, paying with a credit card online. After that, we never had it as good. Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa both had wifi signals we could reach, but the connection was usually frustratingly slow. The two big vendors seem to be Manaspot and Hotspot. I bought a 100 hours on the former for about US$110. It was all about time connected, not bandwidth—the opposite of what we were used to in Mexico.

Money


Walking the dinghy up river to start
the hike to the fall in Daniel's Bay,
Nuku Hiva.
Before we left Mexico, we stocked up on U.S. dollars, euros, and stuff to trade. We have yet to use (or be able to use) any of the dollars and we used only a few euros on a specific occasion. We are very glad we brought the things we did to trade, especially used rope and shoes and colored markers.

In the Marquesas, the French Pacific franc (XPF) is the accepted currency. In the larger communities on Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva, we found ATMs from which it was easy to get cash. We didn’t see ATMs on any of the other islands. Also on Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva, we were able to use a credit card in most of the grocery stores—so long as our purchase was over XPF$2000 or so (again, XPF to dollar is roughly 100:1, so that’s roughly $20). On both islands, I also used a credit card to buy diesel. I suspect we could have used credit cards at one of the few restaurants we saw, but we never ate out. Most of our transactions were in cash.

We met a kind farmer (Steven—he’s a bit intense, but cool) on Tahuata, and after he gifted us some coconuts and gave us a tour of his home and plantings, we were happy we had a shovel to give him (we’d hauled this shovel around for some unknown reason for years). Likewise, we were constantly glad we carried things in a backpack around with us as it was always nice to offer things in return for all the random kindness we were shown. We also used those things to trade for fruit—lots and lots of fruit.

Water

The beach off the anchorage on Hiva Oa.
We were in the Marquesas for the rainiest part of the year. It rained several times per day at times. The good thing about this is the boat hasn’t been as clean in a long time and we were able to keep our tanks filled with rain water. The bad thing about the intermittent rain was shutting and opening the hatches several times per night. It was like waking to tend a crying newborn. But since I’m unemployed, I could just sleep in to make up for it.

Otherwise, water in most Marquesan ports was potable and readily available. The only exception was Nuku Hiva, where the water is contaminated from ag runoff--though a couple free taps are available in town, they are not really walking distance and the water, though potable, is murky. (We also didn't swim in the bay off Taiohae in Nuku Hiva as the water is said to be contaminated and we know first-hand that it’s filled with sharks used to aggressively attacking anything that falls in the water—habituated as they are by the regular fish cleaning we saw).
 
--MR
 

Our favorite store on Hiva Oa. This is as big as
any supermarket in the Marquesas. Hinano signs
are everywhere, kind of like Tecate or Pacifico or
Coca-Cola signage in Mexico.

Eleanor and Windy
 
The girls before a very old tiki they came across on a hike.

A glimpse of the waterfall after a 2.5 hour hike from Daniel's Bay, Nuku Hiva.

Eleanor and her just-finished drawing of the just-finished sunset
anchored off Ua Pou. This was only the second time in the Marquesas
we had an anchorage to ourselves.

We saw these backyard beekeeping installations everywhere.

Snorkeling in the Marquesas: The first living cowry shell creature
I've come across.

My bride.

More Marquesan snorkeling, the visibility ain't great, but
better than we expected after hearing how poor it is.

This is what an internet café looks like on Hiva Oa.


I love how this coral grows, like petrified kelp.

That outboard is a Yanmar diesel. I've heard of these, but
this is the first one I've seen in person. It sounds like a diesel,
of course, very strange. Makes so much sense though.

Frances on the dinghy bow headed back to Del Viento, anchored
off Tahuata.

Windy thought this looked like the Bellagio hotel in Vegas. It's the
surf in Nuku Hiva.

This is the scene of our pig roast at a private home in Fatu Hiva.
The cost was
€15 each and half for the girls. It was a
BYOB affair with a huge, diverse spread and dancing
afterward by the matriarch hosts. There was a gaggle of
other cruising kids that the girls fell in with while Windy
and I enjoyed home-brewed libations
passed around by creative European cruisers with
boats filled with fruit and Panamanian rum. It was
quite a night.
Frances in the Paul Gauguin museum on Hiva Oa. 
 
Eleanor and Frances get picked up by their new friends for
a play date on another boat.

Exiting the church grounds on Nuku Hiva.

Eleanor watching the shark frenzy off the quay in Nuku Hiva.

Eleanor with our favorite fruit seller on Nuku Hiva. Hard to see, but
Eleanor is carrying the stalk of 100 bananas we just bought.

 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pop Quiz
By Michael
TUAMOTUS, FRENCH POLYNESIA


I’ve mentioned pamplemousse on this blog often lately. We’ve been eating a lot of pamplemousse lately. I thought I’d talk a bit about this fruit and post a picture of pamplemousse for the uninitiated.

So in French, pamplemousse is just the word for grapefruit. But, while pamplemousse resemble grapefruit in taste and appearance, they are not grapefruit. Windy learned that pamplemousse are one of the original citrus fruits, from which all others are descended. They grow like crazy here in the Marquesas. Pamplemousse are usually at least twice the size of the average grapefruit and much sweeter (but don’t eat any part of the skin because it is very bitter). The outsides smell like a mixture of jasmine flowers and grapefruit. These things are amazing.

In Mexico, they are sold as pomelo.

So here is your quiz:

In the following picture, in addition to Frances, Windy, and Eleanor, there are three and a half pamplemousse featured. Can you find them all?

--MR

 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Shopping With Jimmy
By MIchael
NUKU HIVA


Jimmy asked me to take this
picture of his tattoo and to share
it. He seemed like one of the
proudest, most secure people
I've ever met. He has more
tattoos on one leg and the
sides of his face too. But
you've seen enough.
In the past decade, every time I’ve bought an avocado in the States, I think about a time in 1997, when Windy and I were sailing child-free on the first Del Viento. We were at our first supermarket in Mexico, a subsidized store for the fishing community on Isla Cedros, about halfway down the Baja peninsula. We were there to buy the fixings for guacamole, the dish we’d agreed to bring to a potluck of eight hungry cruisers. I loaded up our basket with enough avocados, tomatoes, green onions, white onions, cilantro, chili peppers, and limes for a guacamole feast. I watched the woman ring up our produce. She paused at the peppers and didn’t bother to ring them up, just tossed them in the bag. I don’t think they were worth a peso. The cost of the avocados turned out to be ten for a dollar’s worth of pesos. Our total bill was less than the peso equivalent of US$2.00. It stands as my benchmark for cheap food.

Until now.

Have you ever been to a place where food is everywhere? Where strangers offer you free food? That happened to Windy a few days ago. She and the girls were walking around Taiohae on Nuku Hiva when a car pulled up beside them. She was busy feeding a skinny dog with snacks from her pack and the girls were scrambling on some rocks that were certainly on someone’s property. The couple in the car appeared stern. They said bonjour without smiling and motioned Windy over to their vehicle. Windy just knew they were going to ask her to get her kids off their property.

Pamplemousse?” they asked and handed Windy six giant pamplemousse before driving off, each the size to two large grapefruits.

A week prior, on Tahuata, an Australian cruiser stopped by in his dinghy and introduced himself. “You guys want some pamplemousse?” Locals had given him about 30 and he hefted a giant bag of about 15 of them onto our deck.

We don’t pick things on the islands (except for wild basil), but we’ve gathered tons of fresh limes and some oranges and coconuts off the ground.

When we first landed in Vaitahu on Tahuata, a guy called out to us, “Bonjour, pamplemousse?

We were the only boat anchored off Vaitahu
for most of the time we were here. 
No, merci.”

“Mango?”

We froze in our tracks. He said he would meet us tomorrow morning, on the quay where we landed our dinghy. He said his name was Jimmy.

Combien ca coute?” I asked.

Mil franc.”

Oui, c’est bon. Au revoir.”

I turned to Windy, “That’s kind of steep, almost ten bucks.”

“Depends on what he gives us.”

“Yeah, we'll see.”

Windy went in the next morning and Jimmy wasn’t there. She went to le magasin to buy some baguettes. They’d sold out.

“How many you need?” a guy called from the back when heard Windy ask the cashier for bread.

“Just a couple.”

“Is that all? Here.” He handed Windy two baguettes.

On the way back to the dinghy, she saw Jimmy. He gave her a bunch of bananas and les pamplemousse. She met his wife.

“You buy only two bread?” she asked.

This is the cistern overflow. 24 hours a
day it just streams out and runs into the
ocean. Too bad we can't send it to
California.
“All they had,” Windy said.

“Here, two more.” Said Jimmy’s wife, handing Windy more bread.

“Here,” said Jimmy, handing Windy a huge slab of fresh tuna he and some friends were busy filleting in front of her. Then he said something to his wife in Marquesan.

“Our kids are home from school at noon, meet us here then and we’ll take you to pick more fruit.” Jimmy’s wife said.

Merci, merci beaucoup.” Windy said.

It started raining hard at 11:45. The four of us battened down Del Viento and dutifully climbed into the dinghy, we had an appointment. We arrived dripping wet at Jimmy’s house. They picked out dry clothes for each one of us.

“Oh, no, no, merci, merci,” we each said in turn. Windy passed out some gifts for the kids: a puzzle, a pair of shorts, a stuffed animal. Then Jimmy grabbed a bucket and we all started walking, two families of four. We walked through town, over a hill, and into an adjacent valley. Jimmy’s wife spoke the most English and she showed us plants along the way, told us who lived where, and how she and Jimmy met (I imagined a dance on Nuku Hiva, organized just to mix teens from the different Marquesan islands).

When we got to the valley, Jimmy climbed trees to shake limbs to shed fruit for us, strange fruit we’d never seen, similar to lychee, but sweet like guava. Then he set about husking and preparing coconuts for us; squeezing fresh limes over the top of each one. He picked more limes and mandarin oranges and slowly the bucket began to fill. He eagerly had us try each thing. He wanted us to like everything. He wanted us to see and appreciate his island, how much food there was for the taking, how great their life here was. This was paradise, as he said several times. Why would anyone live anyplace else?

All the Marquesan towns we've been to
have a frontage road in front of the water.
They're nice to walk along, like a malecon.
This little colt just followed along,
untethered. Hey, see that truck in the
background? That is a Toyota Hilux.
I learned they're sold worldwide, but
not in the States. I recall seeing them in
Mexico and thinking they looked like
cheap versions of the Tacoma. Turns
out, it's exactly the opposite. The Tacoma
is sold only in the U.S. and is a softer
version of the Hilux, weaker suspension
components and such. The plurality
of vehicles we see in the Marquesas
are either Land Rover Defenders
or Toyota Hiluxes. I read that the IS
in Syria and Taliban in Afghanistan
love the Hilux because they are so
tough.
Before I even thought to put a plug in for the diversity and other attributes of the United States, Jimmy’s wife happened to bring up a trip they’d made. They’d been to the States. They were there once, for a conference of some kind. They didn’t care for the United States and do not wish to return.

“Where were you?”

“Nevada, Las Vegas.” She wrinkled her nose like she’d just smelled something awful. But then she added how much they loved Canada—they’d been to Vancouver and found it beautiful.

On the way back to their house, they stopped and asked a relative permission to pick from his garden. Into our bucket went five of the most beautiful eggplants I’ve ever seen and some foot-long green beans. Jimmy’s wife picked flowers for Windy, the girls, and herself to wear. I found a small airline-sized jar of French preserves in my camera case and gave it to them. When we got to their house, Jimmy’s wife ran up and grabbed a bunch of red bananas to put on top of the overflowing bucket. They helped transfer everything from the bucket into bags we’d brought. They told us the name of their oldest daughter—away at school on Nuku Hiva—so we could say hello if we saw her there. They stood on the quay and waved us off for a long time. We smiled and waved back.

--MR
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is the town church, school to the left. Kids go to school
here through age 11, then they are sent to boarding school
on Nuku Hiva. They are then gone for two months, home
for two weeks, then gone again for two months, etc.
 
The inside of the church was as nice as the outside.

Can't get enough of that boat at anchor.
 
Here we head off with Jimmy and his family.

Another view of the town center.

Jimmy has his arm around his daughter, Clara. For the life of me,
I don't remember his wife's or son's names. They wrote them
 down for me, along with their address (I promised to send them a
family picture), but then our dinghy stern anchor fouled and I had
to dive to the bottom to retrieve it and the paper was in my pocket....
But I can still send the photo to them, the address is just their name
and town name and island name.
 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tiki Love
By Michael
NUKU HIVA


This is the tiki I was given by
the artist, the husband of the daughter
of the late Chief Hekua (see previous
post). It's about 2 inches tall, intended
as a necklace. The eyes wrap around
the sides, chameleon-like.
I saw a pretty cool hand-drawn map in the tiny museum in Vaitahu on Tahuata. But first… 

All these South Pacific island groups, hundreds or thousands of miles apart from one another, all have pretty distinct cultures, even though many are today linked politically, such as is the case for French Polynesia. Yet all of Polynesia (which includes the North Pacific island group of Hawaii) and even some island groups outside of Polynesia, celebrate tikis, humanlike statues that were a part of their ancestral history.

Tikis were carved into stone and wood and are still discovered by archeologists on the islands. Some are huge, some are tiny. Originally, tikis were representations of deified ancestors, men who had mana (spiritual power). Accordingly, the tikis themselves were thought to possess mana and were used to mark sacred places, or places that were tapu (taboo) or to defend a village against evil.

Today--though some tikis are widely still thought to have mana--tikis are largely downgraded, displaced by the Catholicism that now has a monopolistic presence when it comes to island faith. Yet, tikis have retained an important place in the various  cultures, still celebrated and carved, not just for tourists, but for locals too. The tiki is a part of celebrations and festivals, like other traditional art.

So anyway, this map I saw depicts the stylistic differences between the different tikis in different parts of the Pacific. For the past several weeks, we’ve been immersed in the Marquesan tiki style, characterized by big round eyes and wide, rectangular mouths, with little hands that rest on a Budda-like belly or at the chin. Following is the map I saw and beneath it, enlargements of each tiki style depicted.

--MR

This is the map, see the tip of Baja in the upper right corner?
Fenua Enata is Marquesan for the Marquesas. Rarotonga is
a part of what we call the Cook Islands (New Zealand
territory). Rapa Nui is the local name for Easter Island.
Ao Te Roa is the Polynesian name for New Zealand.
 
Not female.
This one might be
female?



So familiar to us now.
The most human-like head, but
with strange hands.
Seen these Gerard Depardieu-looking
guys a million times.

Not so fierce looking.
Reminds me of what Greg found
during the Hawaii trip that cursed
the entire Brady family.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Chief's Daughter
By Michael
NUKU HIVA

Looking inside.
Bonjour…” I called out to the women sitting at the end of the quay. We’d just landed our dinghy for the first time in Hapatoni and I needed to find out whether we’d tied up in an acceptable spot. I needed local knowledge. I stretched out the last syllable of my greeting to these locals for a few beats. I don’t know if that’s how they say it in Paris, but we’re not in Paris—I’m learning French in the Marquesas.

Bonjour…” they answered in unison. They both wore a uniform common to middle-aged Marquesan women: a stained, triple-XL-sized t-shirt and basketball shorts that are two sizes too small. They smoked tobacco in skinny, hand-rolled cigarettes. Their arms were tattooed. One woman wore a fresh flower behind her ear. They smiled easily.

Bien ici?

Oui, c’est bon.” The closest woman said with a smile.

Sil vouz plait.” I said to them as I approached, holding up a finger for them to wait a sec. I dug around in Windy’s backpack and pulled out the Ziploc bag—because it rains here, often—with the manila folder inside. The women waited for me, surely wondering.

I won’t try to write what I said, with the closed manila envelope in my hands, it ain’t pretty. But I’ve learned enough French to say yachties and friends and here and when I had trouble communicating the year my friends were here, one of the women opened her flip phone and I pointed to the numbers and she typed the year there.

Yes! That’s it. Look at these. My friends took these pictures in 1973. See these women in yellow skirts and bikini tops with yellow hibiscus behind their ear, dancing, do you know them? Yes, here, 40-some-odd years ago, these women would be in their 60s now. The name of the Hapatoni chief was Hekua, yeah?

Both women started chatting in Marquesan, smiling and pointing. Indeed they knew these women. One was the daughter—la fille—of Chief Hekua.

Is she here? Can we show her these?

One woman rested her head sideways on her hands and then pointed to the sky.

She’s dead?

She told me yes and pointed to the cemetery near the church. She told me the woman was her sister. She told me that in 1973, she was… She put her hand down at her knees.

Chief Hekua?

Again, she rested her head sideways on her hands and then pointed to the sky.

I’m sorry I said, realizing it was her father. She tried to hand the pictures back, but I motioned for her to keep them.

With her downturned hand, her fingers scratching at the air, she motioned for us to follow her.

Her house was at the end of the quay, a wood house with ornamental porch posts and bright, peeling paint. Much of the wood was rotten. We removed our shoes before stepping up onto her porch.

Wait, she motioned.

Inside pulled photos off a wall-hung tapestry, each stuck on with adhesive putty.

“Chief Hekua.” She smiled broadly showing them to us. He was a handsome man, older. The pictures were rough and tattered. She told me he died in 2009.

She introduced us to her husband and two kids, a boy and a girl who were already playing with my girls, the four of them tangled up with four puppies in the dirt off the porch. She asked if we wanted to see her husband’s carvings.

Sure.

Windy was still kicking herself for leaving Atuona on Hiva Oa without buying the intricately carved warrior club she had her eye on. If this guy pulled out a carved club, she was all his. He didn’t. He laid out a short, ornamental spear with four tikis carved into it. The top half was cherry and the bottom half was a swordfish bill.

Hi pig.
Combien ca coute?” Windy asked.

He said a number neither of us understood. Windy fished around for a pen and he wrote a figure in French Polynesian Francs that is equal to about US$1,000.

“Yes!” I said under my breath. Even if we had that much cash, there is no way she’d spend it. She’d not bought that Hiva Oa club because it was US$160.

“That can’t be right,” she said to me.

“I’m sure it is,” I said hopefully, “look at the detail.”

“I know, but…”

It turned out there was a misplaced zero. This husband of the youngest daughter of the late Chief Hekua wanted 10,000 French Polynesian Francs for his carving, a bit less than US$100.

I told Windy the thing smelled like fish. “Are you sure you want it aboard?”

Windy handed him the note and he began wrapping the intricate carving in newspaper. Then he called the girls over and gave them each a necklace he’d carved from cow bone. Then, around Windy’s neck, he placed a sandalwood tiki necklace he’d carved. Then he gave one to me too. Then Chief Hekua’s daughter handed Eleanor a bucket to collect all of the rose apples, pamplemouse, and oranges she picked from her trees to give us. Their generosity was real.

Luckily, Windy had stuffed some random gifts in her backpack and we began pulling them out. Stuffies for the kids, a puzzle, and some kids’ clothing.

In response, the Chief’s daughter took two more pictures down from the tapestry, passport photos of herself and her husband when they were each about 20. She shared them with pride.

“Hey, a family photo!” I motioned everyone together on the porch and took some pictures of them. She said they don’t have an email address, but she wrote down their postal address. I told her I would print a photo and send it to them from Tahiti. I know she understood. I wish I could be there to present it in person. We won’t be coming around this way again for a very long time, if ever. Every westward mile we make can’t be taken back.

--MR

Happy Frances.
This was one of two lunch tables for the kids at
the one-room school. The other one had different
game boards carved into it.
This little church was pretty, but they've been getting
still prettier at every stop.


One of their friends is the photographer, he was
really eager to take a picture.
This rock platform and massive tree is called a
me'ae in Marquesan. It's an ancient Polynesian sacred site,
a place of worship, burial, and human sacrifice. This one is
unusual in that it is so close to where folks lived. That's
Del Viento in the background.
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