A week in town

We were just in Tahiti for a week, coinciding with our twice annual tourism fair. It was a wet week, under torrential rain almost the whole time. For once I was not at all in need of a week in the "big city", having had a good dose of "civilisation" in NZ. The traffic, relentless rain and noise was wearing, particularly as I was on a training course for a few days, getting anywhere by 8am is a big hassle in Tahiti, welcome to gridlock! But it was interesting learning about the "fundamentals of management" from a large hotel manager, I guess it's never too late to learn, though it does feel a lot like we're being squeezed into the hotel bracket by our Association and the Ministry of Tourism. Yes, we need to be regulated, but it kind of strangles out the rustic charm, that I fell in love with personally, so part of me resists this professionalization, though it seems inevitable. If you want a hotel, there are hotels, but we are a guesthouse, and I'm happy with that, though I agree that there's something to be said for a well run guesthouse! Aside from the opportunity to meet our public at the fair and fill our rooms, it's always a chance to see a whole host of friends and connections, dropping by to pick up a few packets of Rurutu coffee or some homemade jam and honey from the garden! Particularly exciting was the chance to meet C├ęcile, a journalist for a large local French TV channel, who was with us back in March for the Fa'afaite expedition. She was here from Paris, to cover the FIFO (Oceanian Documentary Film Festival), which happily coincides with the tourism fair. The FIFO is a beautiful event exposing a huge diversity of Oceanian films and cutting edge issues in the Pacific, from Papuan deforestation, Samoan transvestites to Polynesian identity crises and cultural renaissance, as well as the political history of French Polynesia. She is now launching the idea for a documentary about A'a, the Rurutu ti'i, alongside a local production company, maybe a FIFO entry for the future. She has been to see the original in London and met with the curator Julie Adams, and is now keen to take it further. I'm excited by the buzz, there is also an article about the sculpture and us in the Tahitian women's magazines Fenua Orama. Another exciting development is the unveiling of a new island logo by our mayor's office, inspired by drawings made by the primary school, guess who has pride of place in the middle of the logo, yes it's A'a, a huge recognition of his significance for our island. There's hope yet that we can get him here someday!



The passing of a Rurutu legend

In early February, Rurutu lost one if its great ladies, Taaria Walker, known as Mamie Pare.
Born in 1930 she experienced a life of change, as a young girl she earned a scholarship to study in Tahiti, the journey being undertaken by schooner back then. She became the first qualified nurse from Rurutu. A pionner and striking beauty, she married for love at a time when arranged marriages were the norm, she was a charismatic and outspoken character, best known for having written a book about her life, and Rurutu legends more generally, her take on oral history causing outrage amongst the council of elders! I will also remember her dancing on the table in the local snack!


Canning season

It's high "summer", the hottest months of the year, and while it's cooler than Tahiti, I'm at about the limit of my hot weather capacities, what with my fragile British complexion! Even the kids find it hot. Poor things are back in school, sweating it out in the classrooms! But, there's always the beach after school and on the weekends.

It's also still a time of year that I love, because it's preserving season, there's an abundance of pineapples, avocados and passion fruit! I've been busy making a rainbow of jams for the upcoming salon in February.
from left to right: guava jelly, papaya and passion-fruit, pineapple, banana, lime, plantain chutney and soursop

We even collected a few kilos of liquid gold from our bees, our "leave 'em to fend for themselves approach" hasn't been so disastrous after all! Honey from our garden is just the best!