Hello world, it’s Marley and Katie. We’re here to tell all listening ears about our first day in Tahiti, which begins (as Katie’s journal reminds us) with this sentiment: “We are here. What the actual heck?!”
After a long day of traveling, we awoke in the “Tahiti Travel Motel” (great bathrooms, great beds, great breakfast) and re-packed all our belongings. Then, we were joined by Tua, Mata, and Mo’ohono, who would be our guides for the day. With them were two tricked-out trucks, our trusty steeds, who were more than capable of carrying 30 duffle bags, 8 very excited students, 2 professors, 1 captain, and Jen.
Together, we clambered into the backs of the trucks and drove to Pape’ete, where we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some lunch (spoiler alert, we did not wait for lunchtime but instead just ate all our food right away when we got back into the truck). We both bought sushi, Katie enjoyed a taro and tofu salad, and Marley wanted to buy an egg salad sandwich but faced group revulsion, so she got two little meat pies that she completely forgot about. After eating our fill, Tua pulled a bowl out of the front of the truck which was filled with bananas from his yard.
Marley speaking: I don’t normally like bananas, but reader, let me tell you, these were the best bananas I’ve ever had. Much better than a Midwest, Minnesotan banana. Truly incredible.
Katie speaking: These bananas. They were so sweet, so delicious. Though I was already full, I was floored by these bananas and had to devour them.
After “lunch”, we began our drive to Fare Hape – a village in the center of the Tahiti. The road was only slightly treacherous, but nothing that Tua could not gracefully handle. When we arrived at border of Fare Hape, we met Papa Heifara and left heis (woven by our lovely professor Josiane!) in offering at the base of a marae, an ancient ceremonial sight that connects families to their ancestors, gods, and the land. Entering someone’s home is incredibly personal, and so it’s important to ask permission to do so. Our heis were both a gift and an ask for entering Fare Hape.
A short car ride later, and we arrived in the navel of Fare Hape (and Tahiti as well!). Fare Hape is a collection of small sleeping huts, picnic tables, a dining hall and open-air kitchen, and an amazing waterfall and swimming hole in essentially our backyard.
Though we had devoured a delicious grocery lunch and Tua’s bananas, we were welcomed by another amazing lunch of rice and lentils, a salad, fresh fruit, and bread – thank you Jasmine and Yolanda! Though we were stuffed with the equivalent of maybe three lunches, we did NOT wait the recommended half hour for digestion and instead booked it down to the swimming hole, where we splashed around for the better part of an hour. Though we heard rumors of eels, none were spotted (another spoiler alert, tune into the next blog by Frankie for an update on the eel situation – everybody LOVES a cliffhanger).
After our swim, we all rested before eating another amazing meal for dinner. This time, we were joined by another program participant – a cat named “Mimi”, who enjoyed our dinner just as much as we did. After dinner, we had a talk with Mo’ohono about Fare Hape, the Papeno’o valley, and our plan for the week. Finally, we retreated back to our rooms, climbed under our mosquito netting, zipped up our sleeping bags, and slept like rocks.
All in all, it was a jam-packed introduction to Papeete, Tahiti, and French Polynesia. Though nothing could possibly beat Woods Hole’s “Pie in the Sky” (if you don’t get it, you don’t get it), we think it’s pretty cool here too. Mostly, we are incredibly thankful for all of our guides and hosts.
Crested Hen (Marley) and Jen’s Sweet Perfect Angel (Katie)
a.k.a Marley Kehew, Macalester College and Katie Waters, Middlebury College
P.S. Jen says shoutout to all the November 9th birthdays. If you don’t know who Jen is, you don’t know who Jen is. Something about Jen that someone who doesn’t know Jen might not know is that she’s giving a shoutout to all the November 9th birthdays.
P.P.S We are missing our friends on the Caribbean Reef Exploration SEA trip and hope that they are enjoying St. Croix! <3