November days

November was a busy old month for us, exciting and exhausting, in equal measure.

We celebrated Halloween, with a few extremely sticky homemade toffee apples and a very scary mini-pumpkin!

Then it was All Saints day, an important celebration here, as it melds Polynesian ancestor-worship with Christian religious traditions (the ambiance is slightly more in the tone Dia de los Muertos). The kids spent a couple of hours with everyone else up in the cemetery.

After that there were MORE school holidays  and we were suitably busy with guests. The first week we had an archeologist here with us, Jenny, who was in grad school in Berkeley at about the same time as me. We met in Moorea, now she's got tenure and hoping to do some work here in Rurutu, it should be fascinating to find out more about our marae.....and it may also give us the momentum to delve deeper into A'a's story, and the timing of marae construction in Rurutu. She was with a friend from Moorea who was "en mission" trying to catch chooks for another research project on Polynesian chickens! The kids had some fun with the traps, Viriamu kept one of the cocks, good for when he fancies some coq-au-vin!    

The next week was spent with a lovely family from Moorea, with some little boys for Amai to play with.

At the same time we were plunged into a land dispute, with our "neighbors", or rather, the people who think they should own the neighboring patch of land (turns out it's not that simple) and supposedly a chunk of our land too! In fact, land is a super-complicated issue here in Rurutu and French Polynesia, the result of the superimposition of French law on Polynesian traditions, two radically different approaches to possessions! And also, the fact that after occupying a piece of land for thirty years continuously, French law allows you to be considered the rightful owner. We are gearing up to make a land claim, so I suspect there will be more to say about this soon; as I try to grapple with understanding the issues and also to see how our Aunty's genealogical work changes things.

Armistice Day this year seemed like a particularly appropriate occasion to remember the pain, suffering and sacrifice caused by intolerance and prejudice. And to hope that the lessons of the past have not been completely forgotten, in the wake of a strange new world, post US elections. Between this and Brexit, you wonder what's next, with the run up to the French Presidential next year. Here in Rurutu we are still, thankfully, far removed from it all, though maybe not as far as I'd like. The primaries for (Center Right, read left in British politics) the French Presidential played out like tribal warfare here - people wanted us to vote with or against the mayor (but hang on these are National elections here, nothing to do with the Territory or Local council elections!!!).

I've 'discovered' a new fruit, the Malay apple; well, actually I've known about them a while, but it's the first time I've cooked them, they make a pretty decent apple tart!