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women are like coconut trees…

It was an early Sunday morning in Moorea (small island located a quick 30-minute ferry ride from Tahiti.)
We were on a mission to gather all the deliciousness possible for our Sunday brunch. Sunday brunch Tahitian-style is a feast of our local “poisson cru” (our own version of the ceviche marinated in coconut milk), “firi firi” (think donuts shaped in the form of a 8), roasted pork, “poe” (local fruits pureed and mixed with sugar and corn starch, oven-cooked and then covered with coconut milk), coconut bread, and of course French baguettes. After that, you definitely want to keep your day open for siesta!

On that Sunday, we arrive at the grocery store, final stop before digging into our feast.
We get our supplies and as we exit the store, an older man is standing there, long hair and tattoos, greeting customers and asking for a few Pacific francs (our local currency in the Islands of Tahiti). He comes to us and starts: “women are like coconut trees.”
We smile and he continues: “yes, women are like coconut trees. You see, women are up there. When the coconut falls, it gives birth to another tree. Women give life, women are up there, the top of the coconut tree, they are the life. And us, men, we are here, at the base. We are the rock, right at the bottom and we look up at the coconut tree. That’s how it is.”
He stares at us even more deeply: “you know, I speak to God, I speak to the Universe. I speak to our “tupuna” (the long-gone ancients.) The “tupuna” are in the Universe, they are always there supporting us. They are always there for us, they are watching us. But we have to speak to them and listen! Because if you speak to the “tupuna” and the Universe, they bring you the diamond and God.” And you know what the diamond is? The diamond is here, between your eyes. That’s why I speak to the “tupuna” ; and if you do that, you will also see the diamond.”
And on that, he started serenading us with his “ukulele…”
It was just a perfect little morning in Moorea. A moment shared, of culture and kindness, the genuine kindness of Polynesians. The kind of moment that will be your best memory when you return home, and remember that man and his words of wisdom.

And moments like this are one of the many reasons I feel so grateful and humbled to be living in such a place! In islands that have remain so unspoiled, so genuine, so pristine and beautifully wild, and where people always greet you with a smile and a “ia ora na.” These little dots in the middle of the South Pacific, 118 of them to be exact, spread on a surface as wide as Europe and where all the land put together would be hardly the size of Connecticut… Yes, visiting the islands of Tahiti has a cost… But what you will find here, if you come with an open mind and open heart, is the diamond. You will reconnect with your essence, and in these jaw-dropping landscapes painted with colors beyond imagination, find yourself again and again… And for that, there is no price.

As the world is still navigating the maze of this 2020 coronavirus, maybe it is time to reflect on how we live our lives. And stop looking for the irrelevant, the unnecessary, change the way we consume, and that includes how we travel. Travel is beautiful! Travel, that is, not tourism and mass consumption.
So be a traveler, not a tourist. Honor the countries and cultures you visit. Honor those who welcome you in their country, for you are the foreigner on those lands… Be respectful, be humble, always…

With love and gratitude,
Rani

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