All of us except Mycah returned to Tanda Malaika after hiking and chatting with Manfred. We were able to wash the mud from our bodies, fill our bellies and relax, but Mycah had yet another strenuous workout ahead of her! Atea had been waiting at the dock, ready to teach her how to paddle an outrigger, and Mycah was so excited!Atea let Mycah use his faster canoe while he used a slow wooden one, and off they went paddling around the bay.
Mycah came close to the boat with a big smile on her face. She was thoroughly enjoying herself!
After some lessons in technique, Mycah challenged Atea to a race, knowing he was the champion racer of the village, and he was such a good sport claiming that Mycah beat him. He laughed and said he gave her a lesson and she is now the champion of the village.
They paddled out into the glistening waters in the afternoon sun,
after which Mycah returned, showered and rested her tired body while Aidan brushed through the knots in her hair with great concentration on his face – not wanting to hurt her. He is such a sweet brother.
When we returned from our hike after the heavy downpour, we realized we had a banana disaster on our vessel. In the hot sun, every banana had ripened even though their skins still had a green color to them, and the heavy rain had stripped most of them off of the stem.
We had a lot of bananas to eat in a hurry, so I whipped up a batch of banana bread, the creatures began eating and I froze many of them for future bread and smoothies. What a delicious dilemma. Danny and I lay out on the trampoline and suddenly before us was the most intense, beautiful rainbow we’d ever seen.
We called the creatures out and all seven of us stood watching the unbelievably beautiful sight until it had completely disappeared several minutes later.
We cut up a watermelon to take to dinner, Emma baked a tray of brownies, and I grilled tuna steaks and marlin. When the time came we packed ourselves into the dinghy and made our way to Atea’s home. When we arrived we were greeted with hugs and kisses by Atea and his mother and were introduced to Nadia, Atea’s wife, and their two year old son, Haku. They had a huge spread of food, including breadfruit prepared in two different ways: One was a pot of it baked and broken up into sections, and the other was a type of breadfruit dough looking dish that one pours coconut milk over and eats with their hands. They also prepared a dish with raw fish and cucumbers, also baked bananas, stewed wild pig that Atea had hunted for, and large grilled fish of some sort, baked or boiled octopus (not sure), baguettes, rice and a mashed banana puree of some sort.
I am so grateful that I raised the creatures to not be picky with food, but rather to be open minded and polite, because every one of them tried everything that was served, and ate all of it, commenting on how delicious it was. Kjira later admitted that she just swallowed her octopus whole, and Emma felt like it’s suction cups sucked onto the inside of her cheeks! When we saw that Atea and his family were not using utensils, Emma leaned over and quietly asked if she could eat with her hands too – I told her of course, at which point most everyone followed suite.
They especially loved the marlin, and during the meal a gecko fell from the ceiling onto the marlin plate with a bug in its mouth.
After we finished eating, Atea told us he wanted to give us each a Marquesan name. Danny, he named Takitoa which means war spear, or protector. My name is Moeata, meaning natural beauty. Kjira’s name is Kua Anui, meaning beauties of many women. Jude is Heani, which is flower lei’s from the sky. Mycah is Vakaiki, which is canoe queen. Aidan is Vakatua, which is canoe warrior, and Emma is Vaikehu, meaning princess. He took it all very seriously, and we felt honored that he would gift us with these names.
We asked him about Manfred, and he shook his head and said, ‘the man who talks a lot.’ He went on to tell us that Manfred went to the US and stayed in New York for a while, and was violent against black people – killing some, and was wanted by authorities so he moved to Ua Pou to hide and start a new life. Crazy Manfred…
Eventually after a wonderful evening together, we decided it was time to head home, and left them wth all the food we’d brought. They sent us home with breadfruit and pork. What absolutely wonderful, beautiful people. We truly love this village and these people.
The following day Atea paddled out and Danny took some pictures of him, loaded them onto a thumb drive, and left them with him for future use. We was so excited when he saw himself on the screen.
As we walked out of the village for the final time, we noticed thin slices of tuna hanging out to dry.
We glanced back one last time at the trees and vines filled with food, the happy faces and the beautiful scenery, and left part of our hearts behind. When I am on night watch in the middle of the ocean somewhere, or hiking some trail in a far off land, I’ll always be able to think back on the beautiful little bay in Ua Pou, where an elephant rock stands watching over the village, and angels roam through the streets and jungle trails.