Just about one month
17 May 2008 | Hakahau
Impossible to summarize the last month, particularly with what feels like slow wifi (in French, pronounced wee-fee) sitting at a table outside the post office looking up at the spires of Ua Pou being bit by no-nos. Every place is different, but some things are potently the same. The Marquesans give you fruit. That simple sentence cannot begin to touch the grace, abundance, laughter, sweetness, strangeness encompassed by the process. Just today, a stalk of bananas, a dozen mangos, grapefruit non-modified, long-stemmed avocados, all from a 14 y/o who dotes on Steve and calls his Pappi. The surfers have an eerie whistle call when a good wave is coming, also used for taking note of other things around you, and after a while give Steve good waves. There is a reason all those famous artists ended up around here.
We landed, as noted, in Hanaiapa, a town without stores. A thin concrete street wound through the sumptuous gardens and simple open air houses of people who by and large fish and gather copra. Intimate quiet marked the rocky beach lined with outrigger canoes in primary colors. We stayed and stayed as Rio and his extended family gathered us in. Steve and Rio tied flies, each fixedly adherent to his own beliefs. They spent a lot of time just sitting on the shore in the open air shed where copra is loaded on the freighter that comes every few weeks to pick up copra and show passengers the village. Two days we hiked over valleys to the area where most copra is gathered, placed on drying racks, and bagged up. We ate the spongy white seed of the coconut and sat watching what it took to generate the raw material in so many toiletries. As it came time to leave, Rio's family prepared a barbecue on the kitchen on the point, a table with some boards sheltering it...chicken, breadfruit, poisson cru, and more, while his Mom told me about having her kidney removed in France. They loaded us up with a bucket of the red, black, and brown seeds that Marquesans make necklaces of. It was very hard to leave.