I know on occasion we have landed on certain islands and made a statement to the effect of “we’re never leaving here.” Well this time, through the incredible generosity of the local family that has ‘adopted us’, that is on the table. Of course it would involve marriage to a local and let’s just say that Alyssa is not exactly sold on the whole idea! Let me back up a few days…
A few days ago I loaded up the dinghy with my fishing arsenal and headed out to procure some protein. I made a stop at the small fuel station on the edge of town to try and buy some gasoline with the only cash I had onboard, US dollars. After speaking with the nice older gentleman at the station, he finally agreed to sell my 19 Liters of fuel for $40 US. We topped off my 5 gallon fuel tank and brought it back to my dinghy. The tank only took 17 liters so when he seemed very confused on how much change (in francs) to give me, I motioned that I would take the cucumbers and eggplant instead. He was happy with the idea and immediately motioned to his daughter to bring me the vegetables. He then took interest in my spear gun and asked to see it. He then asked how much I wanted for it. I told him it was a gift and sorry it was not for sale. Then he wanted to see my Penn reel that Allan (Alyssa’s Father) gave us. I again told him it was a gift and that I could not sell it. He explained through hand gestures that he goes out in the ocean and fishes for tuna. I showed him some of my tuna lures. I then pulled out one of my cedar plugs and gifted it to him. He was very grateful and again motioned to his daughter to give me a huge watermelon. He asked who else was on my boat and I said “ma femme” or my wife/girlfriend. Here Hia, his daughter, who speaks some English, told me that he would like to give us some tuna. I graciously accepted. She said he wanted to give us tuna in the form of dinner at his house. He asked we return at 6pm. I said we would be there.
That evening we returned to the dock with a fresh baked spice cake that Alyssa whipped up. He was waiting for us. We hopped in his truck and off we went to his home. What a great experience. We were treated like royalty. We sat around the living room with a dozen of his extended family while he played the ukulele and the entire family sung along in unison. We all got down on our knees and prayed before dinner and then each of the family members recited a verse from the bible, in Tahitian. Note to ourselves: Learn a bible verse. When it got to us it was a bit awkward.. We enjoyed a nice dinner and then he drove us back to the dinghy. He invited us to return for a huge Polynesian feast on Sunday at noon. We said we would be there.
The next day we went fishing down at the pass. I caught 8 fish and unlucky Princess Lyss caught 0. The famous line of the day was: “I never said I wanted to go fishing. I said I wanted to catch a fish.” haha That evening we had a fish fry on SKABENGA. Marcello grilled the fish to perfection with garlic and butter and let me tell you, that grouper is delicious!
On Sunday we returned to Mai Ti’s home and enjoyed a proper Tahitian feast complete with curried fish from the lagoon, poisson cru, taro, kifa, manioc and banana desserts. Alyssa’s fresh-baked sugar cookies were a huge hit and we paired them with the home-made coconut ice cream that his son makes. After lunch he offered to drive us around the island for a tour. We hopped in his truck and enjoyed a lovely drive around the island. We stopped a few places for some pictures. I asked the daughter how much a house here costs and she looked at me a bit puzzled and replied “no for sale, we build our houses.” That makes sense. So a few kilometers later I asked her “But how much is property? If I wanted to build a house.” In Tahitian she told her father what I was asking. He looked at me and said (in broken English and mostly Tahitian, with much hand gesturing) that if I wanted to stay he would parcel off his land and the family would help build us a house. He was serious! I then said that the French Government would never let me stay. I explained we only had a three month visa. He said “pa problem Louis” and then motioned that I was to marry his daughter so I could stay forever and THEN we would send for Alyssa! We all laughed and I asked Alyssa if she was good with the plan. To which she exclaimed, “NO!!!” haha So I guess there may be a few flaws in the plan, since there is no way I can trade in the Princess!! But wow, it was amazing to hear this man offer me his daughter, some of his property and to join his family. And make no mistake, he was being serious.
The family is coming to the boat for lunch today so we better start preparing. There are a lot of them! It took a few times to convince Mai Ti to come visit the boat. His daughter explained that he is hesitant to come visit in fear of taking a liking to the boat and wanting one for himself. She said he dreams of seeing the world via sailboat. I told him I would trade for his home, straight up. He laughed and said we could trade for a few weeks so he could take his family around the Leeward Islands. I apologized but said it’s not for rent, only for permanent trade. Today should be more fun with the family.
We’re loving it here and in no hurry to leave. You can eat any fish caught in the lagoon (no ciguatera). We ran out of francs so we can’t spend money. The people are all so friendly and always have huge smiles. There is no theft (Mai Ti doesn’t even put away his vegetables at night). The water in the lagoon is very protected which allows for a very restful nights sleep. The visibility in the lagoon is awesome making for some great diving. Lastly, we have no schedule. We’ll leave when it feels right, and that may be a while longer.
Na Na from Maupiti,
Lewis & Alyssa
August 18, 2014
Maupiti, Leeward Society Islands, French Polynesia