by Lauren Smith
Hello landlubbers! We know that it has been a while since we’ve updated you and we’d like to share what we’ve been up to.
When we left Tahiohae Bay, we sailed west to a small bay on the southern part of the island nicknamed “Daniel’s Bay”. It’s a well-protected anchorage that is flanked by the green lush mountain spires indicative of a volcanic island. While we were there, we went ashore and hiked past the tiny village and onwards though the bush. Such lush vegetation! There were no sounds except those of our steps, the birds in the trees and the occasional “Thunk” of a coconut falling somewhere nearby. On our way back, we were crossing a river and stopped to enjoy the cold water rushing past our legs. However when I looked down I realized that my legs had 8+ mosquitoes on them. That water felt great but it also must have washed away my bug spray!
We continued back towards the trail entrance and arrived again at the tiny village. Midway through, a tiny 3-legged kitten meowed at us. Yes, we are in a foreign land but I speak near-perfect Kittenese and was able to translate the communication into “Please pick me up and hold me while I purr.” We left kitten and continued on, walking past the huts and homes of the villagers and a solar-powered wifi-ran telephone booth.
“Bonjour” said a woman’s voice. We looked and saw that she was about 20 feet away from us in her yard that we were walking past. We answered in unison, “Bonjour!”
She walked over to us and was trying to communicate with us but all I got was “French French French television French French.” We thought that she was asking us if we had a TV, but she was motioning us to follow her into her home, so on we went. We walked through her yard past lemon, mango, banana and lime trees until we reached her house. It turned out that their television was broken and she was hoping that we could fix it. Lauren B took a look at it and determined it was probably a bad power supply and unfortunately that could not be fixed without supplies. We shook our heads and pantomimed “no parts” while making motions with our fingers. The husband thought we were saying that we needed tools because he came back with two tiny screwdrivers. We shook our heads and gave apologetic eyes to the couple. “Sorry”, we said, and I was mortified in that moment that I had forgotten the French phrase.
The Marquesan lady offered us some fresh lemonade and gave us bananas, pomplemousse and mangoes and we in turn gave them some Japonese nuts and candy for the kids. They finally understood that we could not fix it and we think that they asked us to tell our American friends about their broken TV.
Meeting the charming Marquesan couple made our day and it was also a bittersweet reminder of what we miss out on by not speaking enough French to have more cultural experiences in these lovely islands. Hand-gestures and Dr. Seuss French are enough to vaguely communicate, but if we want to talk about the meaning of life with the locals, we’re out of luck.