Ia Orana Tahiti!

I left Hawaii a week ago in a limousine to the airport, and flew once again through a rainbow on my way to Tahiti. I had such a great time both in Maui and Oahu, and I will remember those islands fondly, but time for a new country and culture…

Tahiti is similar to Hawaii in its Polynesian culture and atmosphere, except less American and more French, …which makes sense! But that feeling is very present, much more than I had expected. Tahiti is a French territory so all road signs are like the ones back home, and the supermarkets, food brands, car makes are those which I am familiar with. I have enjoyed going to Carrefour and being able to buy things I like to get back at home like goat’s cheese, millefeuille desserts and foie-gras. Of course, one has to be careful selecting wines, as there are good bottles to choose from, but it is best to avoid the older ones as they have probably been sitting in the wrong temperatures for way too long…

The Tahitian language seems to be much more alive and spoken than Hawaiian language in Hawaii. Tahitian is translated from French almost everywhere, and I do hear from time to time some people speaking it. It is very similar to Hawaiian as it I suppose it shares the same Polynesian roots: ia orana = hello, nana = goodbye, manuia = cheers, maruru = thank you, … And my personal favorite: nene = transvestite (!) Yes, much to my surprise, this seems to be a popular phenomenon here in Tahiti – many men chose to dress as women on a daily basis and a lot of them work as hotel maids, cashiers, waitresses. It is very surprising, and adds a little quirkiness to the island!

The most exciting thing for me though has been reuniting with my boyfriend Alex who is working at the Maeva Sofitel Beach Resort here in Faa’a. He works as the assistant to the hotel’s director of finances and administration. We have celebrated Christmas and New Year’s together and have done a bit of traveling together during Alex’s time off. On boxing day we took a catamaran to Tetiaora, also known as the ‘Island of Birds’, which was a stunning private island, a 3h30 boat ride away from Papeete, Tahiti’s capital. The boat ride was very choppy, and unfortunately a lot of people were sick on board. And I must admit that usually I am not sea sick but this long catamaran ride was tough. When we arrived on the island, we walked around it and its beautiful lagoons, saw some extremely rare birds of all shapes and sizes, snorkeled around the shallow waters and swam with some of the most colorful fish I have ever seen. We ate a traditional Tahitian lunch on board, and head back to Papeete in the afternoon.

Our second trip, my favorite of all, was on the 30th December, when we took a ferry to the island of Moorea. Alex had booked us in the Sofitel on that island, and because of his affiliation with Maeva Beach Resort, he got us a wonderful room for a discounted price. The resort in Moorea is picture perfect: a long stretch of real beach, pilotiers, infinity pool, beautiful cocktails, stunning rooms, really comfy beds, tranquility, Tahitian shows at night, a great bar on the beach – it was an ideal honey moon type place. Alex treated me to an 1h massage at the spa as part of a Christmas present, which was excellent. I was blown away by the quality of our room which was honestly one of the best hotel rooms I have ever seen.

The following day we walked around Moorea for an hour or so, saw a lot of crabs, market stands, fruit trees and more stunning beaches, before taking the ferry back to Papeete. Moorea is even more tranquil and laid back than Tahiti, which is sort of difficult to explain as Tahiti is very relaxing as it is..!

I have already witnessed a few traditional musical treats since my arrival – we went to see a Marquisian show at the Intercontinental hotel (our neighbors) which was full of energy, percussion and lively female and male dancers. We also got to see a lot of Tahitian tamouré dancing at the Moorea resort at the restaurant at dinner time. There are some Tahitian dances which are very similar in style to hula, but with more energetic moves, kind of like their alphabet which unlike Hawaiian contains the letter ‘r’ which gives it more oomph. The costumes the dancers wear are also generally a bit more fierce looking – more natural colors like green and brown, more traditional accessories like bamboo, wooden bracelets, more tribal make-up. The women also shake their backsides much more than hula dancers, and with much more rhythm and energy.

The internet is very slow here so it has been difficult for me to upload photos, check emails, keep in touch and write as much as I was in Hawaii where its USA internet connection is speedy and easy to access. I am going to have to get used to this slower and less modern lifestyle in the French islands which I am finding fascinating and enjoyable…

What is really interesting is this sensation that I have returned home because of the French cultural aspects that are so present, yet I am further away from home than I have ever been in my life… Nana!

None but ourselves can free our minds

On one rainy day, I found a good shelter spot in front of store in Paia where there were large cushioned chairs. I had just ran from the beach, where I was laying out in my bikini on a towel, when all of a sudden the whole sky got covered with thick rain clouds and it began pouring heavily.

So as I was resting from my mad dash for shelter, and waiting for the rain to pass, I must of drifted off and started thinking of this that and the other. I heard shouting from the other side of the road, and looked up only to see a guy popping his head out of his truck window with a big smile on his face. “Stop thinking!”, he shouted over at me “Smell the flowers!”, and drove off.

Only in Hawaii, I thought to myself!

none but ourselves can free our minds

These past days have been very exciting – my most memorable at the moment being my visit of the Wailea Mariott Beach Resort. Ras has recently injured his knee, and is now in crutches, he therefore was in need of an extra hand for his performance at the Awesomeness Fest, hosted at the Mariott. The cost of a single ticket to get into the festival: 2000$. The festival hosts all kinds of successful persons from CEOs of companies, to TV producers, to very successful yoga instructors, to spiritual speakers, even the Mayor of Maui was there and gave a speech.

I was invited to help Ras set up his show, do some filming, assist him with various other things he would need. I got to eat at the 5* buffet, which was extremely satisfying as it was like being back home in a Genevan resto. Asparagus, fish, cottage cheese, artichoke, tortellini, garlic baguette, etc. But the cherry on the cake was the dessert table – I went a bit crazy and filled my plate with all the little hors-d’oeuvre: chilled coffee mousse, macadamia nut tartlet, coconut crème brûlée… YUM.

I heard speaker ‘Dreaming Bear’, a guy who played a sort of steel drum, and would dish out funny, inspiring or ridiculous (I thought) quotes. ”Don’t forget to floss”, ”Respect your elders”, ”You’re not as fat as you think you are”, and the such. He also got us all to hold hands and sing the words ”Little by little, we will become stars, we will become love”. I thought it was very funny hearing all these very money-d people singing whilst joining hands ”We will become stars”! It was certainly very interesting.

Dreaming Bear @ Awesomeness Fest

A co-writer of the song ‘Genie in a Bottle’, made famous by Christina Aguilera, came up and sang a song. Her voice was mind blowing, she reminded me a lot of Céline Dion in style. Then a youngish guy was invited to join the stage and talk of business strategy, I thought ”right, let’s listen up here so that I can get some inside tips on how to become rich!!” I don’t remember his first name, but his last name was Boatright.

He came on stage in jeans and a tight black shirt, he was quite a built guy. He began by saying ”So, I could talk to you all about business strategy and how I made my first million dollars at the age of 25, but instead I’m going to do something a little different tonight. I’m going to talk to you about irrationality and intentionality.” I thought what the heck is he on about, only to realize after several minutes into his introduction that he was going to talk about.. love.

He invited his girlfriend to come on stage and sit by him, whilst he went through the history of how they met, connected, instantly got along, felt like they’d already known one another, etc. She was a very pretty Asian girl named Ivy, wearing a bright short turquoise dress.  She sat down and nodded from time to time, and laughed at his jokes. After about 45mins of talking, I felt like I knew everything about this couple’s relationship. I knew what they were going to call their children, they first met in Costa Rica, they had been to China together, and that they liked dressing up as pirates for fun.

He then got a guitar from the stage (actually one of Ras’s guitars!) and sang a song he had written to her. The chorus ”Ivy, you’re the one” was catchy, his voice wasn’t good, but his whole performance was certainly very sweet. She loved the song, blushed and smiled, as one would. After the song, and this is where it gets good, Mr. Boatright got down on one knee, whipped out a small box, and said ”Let’s do this properly”, and proposed to her.

I felt like I was in a Hollywood movie! She began crying, attempted to nod in all the excitement, and threw herself into his arms. We all stood up and clapped. And I had a hard time trying to keep my jaw from dropping, because I have never EVER, and probably never will again, see something like that happen again in my life. Certainly not in Europe, anyway!

Ras Shaggai @ Awesomeness Fest

So after all that excitement, Ras came up to play, and did a good job considering his handicapped state. At this point, people had already gotten up and were chattering and talking amongst themselves, so his music served as background tunes. I took some film of the concert with a camcorder, and was being quite creative about the whole thing – zooming in and out on the moon, then back on to Ras, then on to a candle, then on to a girl dancing to the music, etc.

The resort was phenomenally big – swimming pools in all shapes and sizes, bridges to get from one to the other, tunnels, slides, some pools with very luxurious art on the bottom of them, the sand was perfectly soft and white, the bars were full of very well dressed people and aquariums. The cocktail menu was pricey, but I still treated myself to a Pina Colada, which was extremely good.

After packing all the stuff up from backstage, we headed to the next part of the night, hosted at one of the night clubs of the resort called ‘Tsunami’. Ras treated me there to a Margarita on the rocks, which was also impressively tasty. Seeing as Ras was not very mobile, I sat with him and we talked about music, musical culture, Jamaica and dancing.

Wailea Mariott Beach Resort

It turns out one of my next destinations will be Jamaica, as it is one of the most bustling places in the Caribbean in terms of music business. There is a lot going on, and one promoter is very interested in having me work for her business by feeding the blog, meeting musicians, conducting interviews. It sounds very promising, and full of experience-potential. Woo!