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.
05/14/2008, Santa Barbara, CA
We have not fallen off the face of the earth, but have just been in full court press effort to redefine the odyssey. After a year of homeschooling and the lack of a predictably stable peer group of teens and 24/7 living on 44 feet, we all decided that a thought Nolan had a few years ago was worth pursuing. Kas met a staff member from the Midland School in Los Olivos, CA, at a green day fair in Seattle and thought the fit was perfect. Nolan and I flew out of Ua Pou, possibly the most beautiful airport in the world, to Papeete and then to California. Working with a consultant and doing due diligence considering other schools has been part of the process, but frankly synchronicity was clear from the start. Today he received his acceptance for the fall. We are happy. The rest of the day has been spent dealing with some monumental logistics and legalities; I have previously written a lot about our time in Polynesia but have not had a second to type it up here. When Joann at our bank in Seattle told me she checked the blog daily, I felt all-denominational guilt, so promise to write and put up pictures soon. Nolan even says he will blog from Midland. Our thoughts are with you all, as we run to the airport (after having locked the keys out of the car)....
05/03/2008, Pacific Ocean northeast of Hiva Oa
So, as if sailing around the world didn't provide challenge enough for most mortals, I think we can only imagine what sailing around the world in a relatively new family with a teenage boy being home(boat)-schooled by his mother in a very small boat with no place to get away from the parents (or for the parents to get away from said teenage boy) might be like.
Tracy & Nolan are flying to the states tomorrow to find the best possible boarding school option for Nolan. This is not a decision that has been reached lightly or unilaterally, but rather with full involvement and agreement by all involved. Steve will be staying and tending the boat for now, as the next part of the path reveals itself.
There are not yet any answers to the obvious questions (what school? when? where? what will Steve & Tracy do? keep sailing? will Nolan fly & join them for vacations?) The only answer (and the only one that really matters) is that they are working to provide the best possible opportunity for Nolan to get a happy and successful launch in the world as he prepares for adulthood.
Tracy is exhausted from the trials & tribulations of coming to this decision (not to mention trying to do research on possible schools over a very spotty internet connection) and didn't feel up to writing this post, so I volunteered since I know everyone who reads this blog shares concern when we don't hear.
I know we'll keep them all in our hearts as they continue their odyssey.
(odyssey: 1. long wandering or voyage, usually marked by many changes of fortune. 2. an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest.