A day in paradise
I have been here a week now and today is a day of rest: I have a Maitai cocktail in my hand, monoi lotion on my skin, a hamack shaded by coconut trees, with lots of memories already and those feelings that hit me from the time I got off the plane. Leis made of fragrant flowere, unbelievable seabirds, unreal lagoon colors: so many different shades of blue that I had to invent new words to describe all their nuances. Thousands of colorful fishes eating straight off my hand, unbelievable diving in coral underseas with rays, turtles, sharks, and many other big fishes, jet-skiing over clear water lagoons, and the magical moment: a golden sunset whose reflection in the clouds seems to wrap the entire lagoon in some purple color veil.
I have been thinking that Gauguin, after all, didn't invent anything, he just highlighted reality.
I also remember my surprise as soon as I arrived and discovered all these islets (which are called motus) with endless beaches of ivory color, totally desert where anyone can feel like Adam and Eve at the dawn of time, this feeling of being some lost Robinson Crusoe quickly fades away when I return to the guest house: comfort there is real, every one is pampered by his hosts and their Polynesian hospitality, often informal, but so genuine. Last week I also stayed in a large hotel where I felt like a big baby cared for inside a cocoon with refined elegance. Then for the final touch: a candlelight dinner on the deck overlooking the beach, highlighted by a careful search for the Southern Cross among all the constellations making up the Southern hemisphere's sky, followed a little later in the night, by sensuous and wild Polynesian music and dances. In other words, this is a true feast for the eyes and for the heart as in some fairy tale.
This morning, after an escapade around the island, I stopped at the local little market: I met some Polynesians who live far away (reaaallly far away!) from the stress of my fellow citizens: jokes, shared laughters, complicity, as if the magic of the Tahitian islands made it possible to experience true feelings, the pleasure to live at your own pace. There were many handicraft objects, pareos, and a lot of exotic fruits, most of which unknown to me. I bought a fabulous shell necklace and another one with red and black berries as well as a big tiki statue with a disturbing smile carved by the hands of a Marquesan artist. For black pearls, I have to take the time to get informed in one of the many specialized shops. I've seen some real splendid ones with green shades.
Through my eyes half-closed, I see a little further in the garden, all kinds of tropical flowers with head spinning fragrances: Plumerias, Tiare, Hibiscus, Bougainvillias. Suddenly a young Tahitian man walks near me, he has a huge tattoo on his chest and a small surfboard under his arm. Before night falls, he is about to pursue the tradition of a sport invented by his ancestors, while a little further a group of outrigger canoers is training for inter-islands competitions. Over there on the beach, some nonchalant vahines are adjusting their pareo for tonight's feast.
Suddenly, I understand the Bounty Mutineers who did not want to leave this marvelous garden of Eden where anyone would love to get stranded for ever. Anyway, do you know anyone who, after visiting Tahiti, never wished to go back there some day? Certainly not! Isn't it obvious?... Why, oh why, do I have to go back home?... And really, do I have to? Well, let me think about it...
From the travel log of one of our popaa* friends (Popaa, designates the tourists. Actually, popaa means " burned ", a reference to white skin that easily turns red under tropival sun).
What about unraveling the above text like Ariane's thread?...
"Maitaï cocktail, monoi on my skin, leis of fragrant flowers, colorful fishes, Fantastic diving, clear water lagoons, Gauguin, those islets called motus, ivory color beaches, family guest houses, big hotels, Southern sky, Polynesian dances, little market, live at your own pace, handicraft objects, pareos, Tiki statue, black pearls, tattoos, surfboard, outrigger canoes, vahines, night feast, Bounty mutineers, come back some day..."