Fatu Hiva Friends
15 May 2018
In a rare moment of ethnic stereotyping, I asked my Polynesian friend, Sopi, “Jouez ukulele?”
He replied, “Mais, oui!” I handed him mine and soon he, Lea, his wife and Jordanier, son age 9, were singing and playing. Jordanier was banging a beat on the table until Lisa handed him her bongo drums. We were treated to sweet, happy songs in both Polynesian and French.
We made our first landfall in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia, May 10th. An hour after we were settled at anchor, a boat with a man and his son putted up to us, “Speak French?” “Un petite peu.” “Fruit?” “Oui!” I grabbed a bag and jumped into their boat. There was no more English, good think I can speak French at a four year old level.
Sopi and Jordanier brought me to the tiny harbor where the work boats were moored. I followed Sopi up one of the two streets in the village. We cut through some brush and were among low trees with huge grapefruits hanging and covering the ground. “Pamplemouse, tres sucre.” I stood under a huge, yellow fruit while Sopi nudged it with a long stick. It was so heavy it went right through my hands, Sopi laughed. We gathered five more Pamplemouse which made the sack almost too heavy.
We walked back to the water front and waded through a shallow stream to the other side of the village. The local soccer team was practicing. We walked by the field and soon reached Sopi's house. Lea, his wife was cooking in the covered area outside and we were introduced. Their house was surrounded by trees, heavy with fruit. Gardens, a dog, four cats, two pigs and numerous chickens. A small stream on one side was planted with Taro.
Sopi asked me if I wanted aubergine, eggplant. He cut four beauties and put them in the sack. The sack was full, Lea produced a plastic bag that Sopi filled with limes from their prolific lime tree.
We walked back to the harbor and motored back to Uproar. I asked, “Combien? (how much)” Sopi asked for wine. We were told not to trade with alcohol as the husbands would get drunk and wives very mad at cruisers. I asked, “OK, Lea?” He said, “Oui, for cuising.” Lisa produced the bottle of wine.
Sopi invited us to visit the next day. He explained to me that he is a carver and I told him I also work with wood. Lisa and I visited the next day, got the tour of his shop, his beautiful work and another sack full of fruit. We invited them to join us for dinner on Uproar.
They arrived with their sons, Jordanier, age 9 and Francois, age 16. The evening was filled with stories about how they met, their families, their farming, hunting for goats, and fishing. About the only English was Jordanier, who was proud of his command of our language and me translating to Lisa. But communication among friends is seldom a challenge.
Sopi brought a large bottle of honey he produces. Lea brought a bag full of the most fragrant leaves and flowers and put them in a bowl on our table. We spread them throughout Uproar. The heavenly scent matched well with the delightful evening we spent with our new Polynesian family.