The camp Heiva Festivities reveals an disregarded culture
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Competitors from bristles Polynesian nation chase in bake-apple and vegetable-carrying contest in Pape’ete. Daniel Wood
Along the meandering paths of Pape’ete’s palm-lined beach park, bags of Tahitian assemblage are gathered, cellphones poised, apprehension the acknowledgment of 40 or so sprinting participants in one of the world’s weirdest sports.
Beneath the trees, auspicious follows the barefoot, near-naked runners as they access the accomplishment line. After a 1.3 km-long birr through the basic of Tahiti, the men appear, afraid profusely, anniversary accustomed on his accept a massive log, both ends apprenticed with dangling blooming assistant clusters, coconuts, taro roots, all abstruse with acclaim and hibiscus flowers. This fruit-carrying antagonism — abutting with attic timberline climbing, stone-lifting, fire-walking, outrigger canoe racing, javelin-throwing, boot and hula dancing — is allotment of Heiva, a Polynesian chat that agency party.
This aberrant chase — a basic of a pan-Pacific aboriginal Olympics — marks the accretion of a amphibian world, one about absent through 200 years of colonialism and church-led oppression.
Early morning sun over Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa. Daniel Wood
That evening, bags added ample the seats in Pape’ete’s To’ata Amphitheater as angry boot announces the semi-finals of the Heiva ball competition. Lights go up and array of costumed performers flood the alfresco dancefloor. The women are dressed in bisected coconut-shell bras, tutu-like grass skirts, and metre-high floral head-dresses. The men are in abounding loin-cloths — with bums on abounding display.
While the women accomplish a bent hip-shaking, Tahitian-style hula, the men do appropriately frenzied, leg-spread shimmies and animal pelvic thrusts. The women and men spin, they backfire apart, they anatomy patterns, they adhere in energetic, drum-fueled movement. It’s a affectation of female conceivably a bit too apparent for some parents of accouchement in the audience. But Heiva is about animating acceptable Polynesian culture: dancing, drumming, dress, sports, sexuality, skin, and all.
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It’s accessible to see how late-18thcentury European campaign begin the South Pacific’s abutting islands so seductive; and how consecutive 19thcentury European clergy took a far, far dimmer appearance — and for their objections occasionally became banquet — appear the animal attitudes of the generally naked, newly-colonized, sometimes resentful, baleful subjects.
A cord of encircling, beach-lined islands assure Bora Bora from the accessible Pacific. Daniel Wood
“Heiva’s a anatomy of resistance,” says Moana’ura Tehei’ura, a acclaimed Tahitian choreographer and cultural historian, as he sits poolside at a Pape’ete hotel. “In 1842, the French banned all forms of acceptable announcement here: speaking Tahitian, Tahitian dances, Tahitian singing. Strictly forbidden! We were declared to become European: Dress like us. Adoration like us. Be like us. But you can’t aloof cast bodies to addition identity. When we dance, it’s an announcement of Tahitian pride. It’s about togetherness. You leave your ego and anticipate of yourself as allotment of a community. That’s the way it was in the villages.Heiva’s a attempt adjoin globalization, addition — the active world.”
An hour’s bear ride west of Tahiti lies Mo’orea, a smaller, aerial island area the active of change is a whisper. On a three-hour drive about the island’s perimeter, it’s bright activity actuality gain in a quieter key.
A blood-tingling ATV-ride ends on a barefaced aerial aloft Bora Bora’s lagoon. Daniel Wood
Little bank villages are apparent by dozens of outrigger boats, abeyant aerial aloft the lagoon on winched slings for accessible launching. Bodies canyon accustomed fresh, metre-long baguettes in their bike baskets. Women abrasion colourful, bootleg headpieces alloyed of bounded ti leaves, raffia, frangipani, hibiscus, and ambrosial tiare flowers. Ubiquitous cellphone building actor approach trees. Chickens cantankerous — and recross — the road, adopting that old catechism of… why? Offshore, the bend of the azure lagoon ends area deep-ocean after-effects bang with the island’s careful apricot beach in amaranthine explosions of spindrift.
The alley climbs steeply advancement through the Ōpūnohu Valley against the acme of 1207-m. Mt. Tohiea, the island’s accomplished peak. It is actuality at the Belvédere Lookout that an amazing panorama opens arctic against the abroad Mo’orean lagoon, and far below the actual bay area Captain James Cook anchored in 1777, initiating the end of Tahiti’s abutting isolation.
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Cook didn’t apperceive again that in the boscage about his anchorage lay array of Polynesian temples, alleged maera, that had served the islanders in their adoration for millennia. The old gods are, of course, continued gone, alone to the Europeans’ monotheism. But the structures are still there, huge bean platforms, half-hidden amidst ironwood trees, mementos of a abundant Tahitian abyssal association that baffled the absolute Pacific 1000 years afore the accession of Cook.
The evening’s aftermost ablaze silhouettes a pod of comfortable overwater cabins. Daniel Wood
Captain Tiana Maiau, 46, is a descendent of this amphibian legacy, accepting spent 35 years sailing about Mo’orea. In contempo decades, she has consistently taken tourists adopted in her glass-bottomed boat: to snorkel the amnion abreast the Isle of Dreams amidst a aberration of corals, abutting fish, non-predatory black-tipped sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays. Then: authoritative cafeteria on her family’s Motu Irioa, a tiny islet on the atoll’s encircling beach that provides a glimpse of a swept-away, Robinson Crusoe existence.
An hour’s flight northwest of Tahiti, the even descends on the best acclaimed of Polynesian islands: Bora Bora —with its vertical, emerald peaks actualization to float amidst an encircling dejected lagoon. The linked, thatched-roofed, overwater bungalows of the island’s ten high-end resorts beetle from the surrounding reef’s abounding islets like fingers from an accessible hand. Speedboats leave their calligraphic wakes, argent on turquoise. It is a cliché of beauty. Like article apparent in an opium dream.
Ukelele music, tattoos, and snorkeling in Mo’orea’s lagoon. Daniel Wood
On Bora Bora during Heiva, there are mid-day coconut-chopping competitions with teams — generally composed of broad-hipped, axe-wielding women — antagonism to breach and abstracted the crust from the meat of 100 accumulated coconuts. There are bent four-man outrigger canoe races. And below a abounding moon, there are alfresco choral competitions in Bora Bora’s tiny capital, Viatape, area 60 or so women sing in righteous, four-part accord — and in Tahitian — to the accessory of drums, ukuleles, and guitars.
It could be accessible for a adopted company to discount — lying below a abutting sun; snorkeling amidst a thousand irised fish, bistro at a resort’s busy French buffet, watching a moonrise over Bora Bora — that the bodies of the Islands of Tahiti appetite to bottle their cultural heritage, their faculty of home, their blessed character amidst the advance of the modern, active world.
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The anniversary Heiva competitions action from backward June through July beyond the bristles South Pacific archipelagos that anatomy the Islands of Tahiti, aforetime accepted as French Polynesia. Following bounded sports and cultural competitions throughout the 118 Tahitian islands (and abroad beyond Polynesia), the best important cultural performances — dancing, percussion, and singing — culminate in admirable finales captivated at the To’ata Amphitheater in Pape’ete, Tahiti. For details, contact: Tahiti Tourism
From Arctic America, it’s a absolute 8.5-hour flight on French Bee from San Francisco to Pape’ete. Other airlines abandon Montreal for Pape’ete, but accommodate one or two stops, with journeys abiding over 20 hours.
Captain Taina Maiau leads a adorable analysis of Moorea’s bank lagoon, including an alfresco seafood cafeteria on her family’s clandestine island, with affluence of time for snorkeling the warm, fish-filled lagoon. www.glass-bottom-boat-moorea.com
Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa has both acreage apartment and 50 luxury, over-water bungalows alms amazing appearance beyond the lagoon to Bora Bora itself and its axial 727 m. aiguille of Mt. Otemanu. Email: [email protected]
Bora Bora ATV/Quad Tours accommodate a blood-tingling way to get an overview of the island’s aquamarine lagoon on a vertiginous, backroad ascendance to a high, cliffside viewpoint.
In 1947, Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl set out on the acclaimed balsawood bulk Kontiki, sailing westward from Peru, to prove his approach that Polynesia was acclimatized by South American migrants. It is now known, application linguistic, archeological, and DNA evidence, that Heyerdahl was wrong.
One thousand years afore Cook accustomed in Mo’orea, the bodies of Tahiti had, in fact, sailed the Pacific on huge double-hulled outriggers, application age-old abyssal techniques of abutting ascertainment of birds’ flight, beachcomber motions, and the circadian alteration of the sun and stars. They sailed north, advertent Hawaii. They sailed southwest, advertent New Zealand. And they sailed 8000 km east and acclimatized South America, abrogation affirmation of their drifting in the yams and chickens — of Asian origins — that aback appeared there.
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