Thursday, 23 May 2013

wherever paths may lead

The scenery as we entered Vaitahu Bay 
A large pig goes for a walk on the waterfront. A man holding a rope leash strolls nearby keeping an eye on it. The sun is piercingly bright as we watch from the shade of a tree. This is Vaitahu.

Vaitahu is a quaint village on Tahuata Island. It is hugged by tall green mountains on three sides. The only unwelcoming thing here is the concrete dock where we have to tie up our dinghy.* Once on land, tidy homes line the few concrete roads, trees dripping with fruit are everywhere, and among the few buildings, there is a small store, a school, a post office, and a large octagonal church.

The village from above

Looking back at a sliver of
the South Pacific

When we wandered inland, we asked if paths we randomly chose were private and were repeatedly told we were welcome to follow them. As concrete gave way to a dirt road, we stepped into the dense tropical forest. Soon we were engulfed by the lush foliage. It was as if Vaitahu had swallowed us whole. I think that's when we fell in love with the little village - with everything: from the drying copra sheds dotting the landscape, to the colourful flowers and mango trees surrounded by fermenting fruit on the ground, while green fruits hung in clumps in their branches. This kind of landscape feeds something deep within. We hadn't realized how much we'd craved being surrounded by what Rick calls green growing things. 

Taking it all in
The guys on Mango duty
When we returned to the village, we met Teiki. It was later explained to us by Fati, that Teiki is a traditional name given to all the male children here - a descriptor is added for each individual, usually, one passed down through the generations. For example Fati's son is called Teiki who split the sky in two. 

The first Teiki we met was in his late twenties, he stopped his truck next to us and started chatting away. He told us to hop in his truck, he had mangoes to give us. We gladly accepted. Now, we know how to collect mangoes - you get a very long stick and whack a mango until it tumbles down. After hanging out with Teiki, we went looking for Fati. 

Our new buddy Teiki
We stopped by the store and asked two women where Fati might be. The eldest, who turned out to be his cousin, offered to call him. Just then, he drove by with his wife. They whisked us off to their home where we talked about art, culture, and tattoos. Fati is a well-known local tattooist. While he does traditional Marquesan motifs, he also blends his designs with modern imagery. After discussing getting ink done, we agreed to meet the next morning at 8 a.m.

Nyon looking pretty from afar
We spent a great day with Fati. While he used our skin as canvas, he would in turn be very quiet or he'd launch into yet another story. By the end of the day, we were sorry to say goodbye to this very charismatic man.
Fati sketched the design of my tattoo after our discussion.
Unlike a lot of tattooists here, he blends modern imagery with
Marquesan designs

A familiar sound: the buzzing of the needle.
Here's to tattoo number 6!

Thanks Fati!

Rick's turn: He's no longer a tattoo virgin!

Rick's new tattoo
Armand, whom we met trough French sailors, offered to trade us some fruit for a couple bits of old ropes. Once we were loaded down with a hammock full of sweetness, we stowed the boat and readied ourselves for our next adventure.

* The surge at the concrete dock can get pretty extreme. While we used a stern anchor to keep the dinghy off the dock, it appears it dragged over time and the dinghy got wedged under an overhang. Poor Pip Squeak got bashed until a fellow sailor moved her. Unfortunately by then, the fibreglass was cracked on the starboard side. Rick has since mended the damage, and while Pip squeak is no beauty queen, she's sturdy once again. 


  1. As your companion for your first tattoo, I approve, Kyra!

    Makes me think of _Until I Find You_ by John Irving. The father in the story travels the world getting inked in each new place he visits. Might be a fun read for you.

    How about some pics of Rick's new tattoo if it's not too personal? Welcome to the wonderful world of body art, Rick!

    Love and hugs to the both of you!

    1. Aw, Sherry, doesn't that seem so long ago... Actually, it was my second tattoo! And we were 20 years old, can you believe it? Sigh. :) Will check that book out, haven't read a John Irving novel in ages! Sorry, Rick's tat is there now, had tons of issues posting photos.

  2. OK!! so where is the picture of Rick's tat? Looks like you are having an awesome time, we are so glad!!

    Tom & Jeanne
    SV Eagle
    Big Left Turn Enterprises, LLC

    1. Hey guys! Picture's up now! (Had loads of trouble posting photos and gave up partway.) Hope you guys are doing great! Cheers, the Nyoners



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...