Society Islands; ancient cultures and traditional dances
Tahiti, back to civilisation
After the immense silence of the barely inhabited Marquesas and Tuamotus islands, it feels unreal to encounter so many people, cars and a serious highway again. Everything seems to go unnaturaly fast and it is impossible to hear Mother Earth anymore: this intense sound of nothingness.
Papeete is not the most charming city but it is nice to have a look around and everything can be found here. After two months of extremely expensive, imported vegetables or no vegetables at all, it is just heaven to walk into a supermarket with more choice than only a carrot or an onion. Never realised how good a fresh cucumber or tomato actually tastes!
Moorea, countless shades of green
This little sister of Tahiti is not to be forgotten! Beautiful hiking trails that lead you into the heart of this immense green island. The landscape is surprisingly divers with jungle and pinapple fields in between. Another highlight is hugging the stingrays at stingray city. How soft they are! You get an extra hug if you bring some catfood with you ;-).
Raiatea, a taste of ancient communities
This island is the spiritual centre of French Polynesia. It is said that from here the ancient people of French Polynesia started their journey with giant catamarans to set sail to and discover all the other islands in the Pacific. They managed to cover an area going from Hawai till New Sealand, where they started living as well.
The archeologic site Taputapuatea still gives a fascinating idea how their spiritual and social structures were working. The whole society was centred around the Marae, their temples. These are area’s covered with large stones on which they errected a platform on one side on which they could perform ceremonies. In this paved area there were also huts for the priests, a hut where the body of highly placed persons were being prepared (being dried in the sun…) and tables covered with offerings for the Gods. Those Marae are still vibrant with a strong energy. Not always in a positive way… It seems it was not all about high spirituality… Human sacrifices and showing of power was quite random here as well.
Bora Bora, traditional dances accompanied by impressive drum rhythms
We were lucky to be here at the time of the big festival of Bora Bora (Heiva). This festival takes a month, always in July. It was a treat to see the young traditional dancers perform their acts. Beautifully clothed and competing with eachother for the prize they can win. We thought it would be a very touristic happening and a bit reluctant to go in the beginning. But we saw most of all very enthousiatic locals, who started screaming when the dancing girls started moving their hips fervidly and the boys moved their knees like crazy to and fro each other. Hilarious!!
For these people these dances are still an important part of their culture. Every village has its own dance group and drum band. The one who wins this year will be able to perform their dances in the big Heiva in Tahiti next year.
Fiji, a new chapter in our Pacific adventure
After Bora Bora we left French Polynesia to set sail to Fiji. It took us two weeks to reach these group of islands. Again the same Polynesian hospitality and smiling people on unbelievable pretty islands with more nature than population. Again we will enjoy and absorb all the beauty of this new country to discover!