The Kindness of Strangers.
25 July 2010 | Bora Bora
Bora bora is reknowned for it's physical beauty, and indeed it Is stunning, but Isabelle and I found that the real beauty lies within the people of Bora Bora.
Three small and simple kindnesses portray this.
First, I was in the supermarket late one day on a quest for a baguette. I saw nearly everyone in there clutching one or more baguettes but couldn't find them anywhere. Finally, I walked up to a couple of women who had one baguette between them, and asked where i might find one. One woman replied that there were none left. I think i slumped my shoulders, thanked them and walked away. I was nearly past the check-out when i heard 'attende, attende, wait, wait' behind me. I looked around and found one of the women approaching and offering me their solitary baguette. I tried to refuse but she insisted. So kind.
Second, Isabelle had found a man at the artisan's market who agreed to drill several of her pearls for her, and was very happy with the price they had agreed on. When she returned next morning along with the pearls and a big smile, he also gave her a beautiful little bracelet that either him or his wife had made. It was a simple yet intricate weaving, with a cowrie shell for a clasp, and a vanilla seed pod woven into the band. He'd had it out all ready to give her.
Lastly, we had bought tickets to a big dance spectacular for our final night. While we were wandering outside the arena waiting for the pre-show announcements to finish, a group of four small, young girls approached us and asked if we would like to buy some kind of boiled potato type 'treat' they had many bags of in a plastic tub they were carrying. The eldest was wearing a t-shirt with 'Downunder, Australia' written on it. I think I scared them when I enthusiastically exclaimed that that was where we were from. They were so sweet. We would have liked to buy some of their treats but explained that we didn't have any money with us. It was a shame to let them down. They were so eager to sell us some.
We walked away a little ways when the littlest one ran up beside us and held out two 100 franc coins for us. They must have thought we were broke. We melted, but had to refuse. She ran back to her friends and we thanked them and continued on our way. We thought, 'that was so sweet. If only we had something to give them'. Then we remembered we had a packet of (half melted) tim tams in our bag so went back to find them. We told them they were so nice and offered them a tim tam each. We learnt their names, their ages 5,7,9 and 11 and that they were cousins. They still tried to offer us money and we had to work hard to stop coins being slipped into our pockets or bag. We all walked along a bit and then proceeded with a photo taking session. The girls enthusiastically wanting to view each photo after it was taken. Once, while they were all gathered around Isabelle, crouched down, looking at the photos, the youngest, Gilda, was more interested in Isabelle's hair and was fascinated, stroking it. It was the cutest thing.
Then they took us to play fuss-ball in the arcade with them, as their special guests using the money they had eared selling their treats.
After taking photo's of their names they'd artfully drawn in the sand, they finally got us to accept a bag of the 'treats', then did a quick exchange of coins amongst themselves to satisfy the accounting.
We arranged to come back next morning with some photos printed out for them. We met the eldset, Avearii and her cousin Jean-Louis, and also gave them some koala key rings, which had been a hit with locals.
When we got in our dinghy to depart, Avearii asked worriedly if that was what we were going to Australia in!