I’m back home (ua hua ‘io te fa’e) after my year in the islands, and I have FINALLY found a minute to write here. Countless adventures and so many new friends from this past year. Unforgettable!
(Photo: at Koueva in the valley of Taiohae, Nuku Hiva)
Eleven days in! As good a time as any to post an update. I’ve had an unusually productive time in Tahiti, so far. Sadly, I have yet to visit a single beach…but I’ve been a busy little bee in other (more important, or so I tell myself) respects. My list of activities includes:
- applied for my temporary residency card
- conducted several interviews
- visited my host sister’s arts school in Papeete; so cool! They have courses in carving, engraving, weaving, and painting, and train students in a variety of Pacific styles over the course of three years. I left feeling inspired; their philosophy is “improve. then improve some more!” In short, perfection (if there even is such a thing) is a moving target.
- obtained cadastral maps for Vaitahu
- applied for a local bank account (wow, what a process! By the 8th page of questions I felt like I was joining the CIA)
- activated a local cell number with an old school unlocked samsung cell phone I brought with me (yay!)
- recorded a variety of ring tones for my new cell (since I’m too cheap to buy them), including some local chickens raising the “alarm” (yessss)
- bought a bunch of postcards (they’re relatively hard to come by in the Marquesas)
- put together a package to send to the Marquesas so I can avoid paying extravagant extra weight fees for the baggage I bring on my flight to the islands (they’re very strict, and charge $10 per extra kilo! Not good for a girl who’s carrying luggage for a year)
- consumed excessive amounts of Orangina and SAO crackers (the local, thicker version of a saltine)
- sampled my first litchi flavored soda! Made by Singapour, a generic soda brand they have here. Litchi being one of my all-time favorite flavors, I was super psyched…but it ended up tasting more like perfume than anything else. Sigh. Back to Orangina, I suppose.
- visited the Service de la Domaine to track down more information about government land ownership in the Marquesas…a trail that needs more following
- bought a few more supplies–French paper sized folders to protect my printed stuff, and some scissors–because my jack knife scissors just weren’t cutting it anymore. 🙂
- ate the best pizza I’ve had in the Pacific! That includes Hawaii. Seriously, SO GOOD. Thin crust, fresh tomatoes, basil, real cheese, mmmmm. A welcome treat and big surprise–because I generally find pizza in French Polynesia seriously lacking (the kind of thing I won’t spend money on unless it’s a desperate situation!). I wish I could remember the name of the place…but it was a little pizza cafe not far from the Musee de Tahiti in Puna’auia.
So, yes; an eventful few days! I hope I can keep up the pace over the next few weeks. It’s hard not to let the heat and humidity sink in and slow things down…
Marquesan-style motifs decorate an overpass in Puna’auia.
I arrived last night in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, and checked into my favorite pension (bed and breakfast) in town, Pension Fare Suisse. A quiet little oasis on the edge of downtown, within easy walking distance of everything a working visitor could need.
Tahiti’s gotten a lot of rain lately and it was pouring when we landed last night, to the chagrin of many an eager honey-mooner. It’s not all bad, though: it’s the middle of summer here and the rain helps to break some of the heat and humidity.
Paid a visit to the Haut Commissariat of French Polynesia this morning to dutifully apply for my temporary residency card, or Carte de Sejour (a requirement if you’re an American staying longer than 3 months). Best to take full advantage of waking up spontaneously at 7 am, alert and still on East Coast time! I’m sure it won’t last.
That said, I have a feeling I may be doing a lot of early rising this year. Perhaps I can cultivate it as a new good habit? Most Marquesans thrive on early mornings, unless they’ve been out late on a fishing trip the night before. Guess we’ll have to see just how “Marquesan” I become, in the coming months!
Back to my morning adventures: everyone at the Haut Commissariat and other administrative offices was super friendly, which made it a lot easier to deal with having to scamper around town assembling another slew of documents, copies, photos, more copies, etc. for my application (evidently, Boston’s French Consulate was supposed to have sent these materials on ahead of me…but hadn’t. Sigh). In the end it was infinitely less painful than I was expecting, though, given some of my previous experiences in the government offices of Tahiti and elsewhere. Hope that’s a good omen!
I have decided to use Marquesan Now as a conduit for sharing updates on my year of doctoral fieldwork. I hope any followers will humor the occasional post on this topic! Much of what I share will come direct from the Marquesas, internet connections permitting, and will most certainly fall into the “living vicariously” category. I promise. 🙂