This is the 9th post of a trip to Tahiti, which started on May 10/2022 (here)
Day 3 -(Monday) - Aranui Cruise to the Marquesas
The third sailing day & night on the Aranui, were spent softly gliding on the vast Pacific ocean, without a stop, and with no sliver of land or any another vessel, seen on the horizon
Blessed with a fantastic bright sunny sky hot weather, and an educational program consisting of several lectures on the vegetation, culture and history of the Polynesian Islands, made the time spent on-board, more pleasurable and interesting
The triangle has its apex at the Hawaiian Islands in the north and its base angles at New Zealand (Aotearoa) in the west and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the east.
The Marquesas are within that cultural triangle, and are the hub from which the people who arrived there first, from east Asia, spread-out to the rest of the Pacific islands (here)
The second speaker on board, designated to address the English speaking group during the morning session, was a local caring gentle soul Tahitian of a Chinese linage on his mother side who was a music teacher prior to joining the Aranui's staff as a guide
Several images/types representing Polynesian associated figures, were presented, at the presentation, although I wasn't familiar with any of them, but apparently, these TV images are well known..
Domesticated Animals in the Polynesian Islands
Bread Tree Fruit and Bananas
Marquesas Islands, consist of a volcanic archipelago, situated in the central South
Pacific Ocean, 1200 km northeast of Tahiti. The islands are, for the most part, high and craggy, with jagged peaks rising in places to some 1,200 m and carry enchanting bays but without good beaches for swimming..
Because the islands lack of coastal plains and coral reefs, habitation was largely restricted to the narrow valleys where streams run down from the mountains and consisted of warring tribes.
There are 3 Northern islands and 3 Southern ones
The Marquesas - an indigenous peoples of the same ethnogeographic group are believed to had inhabited the islands as early as 340 bce, although there is disagreement among scholars, regarding the origin of the settlers, a common thought
believes they originated from Samoa.
On the Beliefs and Practices
Polynesian culture can be described by five major issues:
hierarchy, obedience, family, land, and spirituality.
Due to geographic isolation and island living, Polynesians developed a culture of community living that enveloped every part of their lives.
The sharing of resources: food, child-rearing, and work was essential to the survival of early Polynesians, remnants of which are still seen in Polynesian culture today.
Respect and deference to elders, is shown in every aspect of their lives.
Elders teach about family history and culture, are consulted for advice and decision making, eat before anyone else, and are generally venerated.
Tradition is a vital aspect and has always been the responsibility of the priests to keep the verbal traditions, history, and records of their people, It is viewed as sacred, and can bring on the wrath of the gods if not followed correctly. Pantheon of gods as well as local and family spirits are were involved in daily life. Ancient Polynesian temple platforms, called marae, are still believed to be holy places.
Ancient ceremonies are re-enacted also today through traditional Polynesian dances for tourists
Tatto - The Marquesas have a long history of complex geometric tattooing, covering the whole bodies of both men and women
Merit based sociotal practices are more particular to the Marquesas than among the Polynesian in general, and mobility is more prevalent in their stratified community.
Also circumcisions to all 8 years al boys is culturally an important traditional practice .
it is a source of shame not to be circumcised: women will not look at a man with a foreskin, because he is "not a real man.".
Polynesian cultures have been radically altered by Western colonialism. European explorers navigated much of the area in the latter quarter of the 18th century, and the first missionaries arrived in the late 1700s and early 1800s
Missionary influence on Polynesian people increased over time, and Christianity eventually became an integral part of the islanders’ lives. Christianity was also influenced by local traditions and customs. Most of the residents are devout Roman Catholic and
villages competed to build larger, and more elaborate churches, The intensified religious practices of the islanders, is a surprise.
Festivals, music playing singing and dancing are important cultural aspects.
Today, the culture is a mélange created by the layering of the ancient Marquesan culture, with strong influences from the important Tahitian culture and the politically important French culture.
Chief agricultural products are copra, taro, breadfruit, coffee, and vanilla and more recently tourism.
Polynesians tend to have a high rate of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. They also may be genetically predisposed to store fat, thus the importance of a more traditional, native diet,is much healthier for them then western food
A Polynesian legend tell, was shared on the name derivative of the islands
If I got it right, it tells the story of a Polynesian G-d figure, who promised his beloved
G-d figurine a proper dwelling, for their private liaisons.
In the process of building the house, in only one day, the 6 Islands of the Marquesses were created and named after the building material used in constructing the house
Tiki -a sacred human representation figures, that usually appears with large wide open eyes, observing reality and taking in knowledge, and with short hands positioned over their swelled belly, where life is being created.
Sadly our next guide's English proficiency was even worse than that of Mila’s. the first guide who addressed us, (I mention in my previous post here)
He was hard to understand, or follow up on, In fact, he was the first complain we had on a voyage, since we came aboard, that otherwise, had been great so far, in every sense.
Since the Aranui bothered to provide more then aqueduct guiding French speaking staff to the French speakers, and even a native German speaking guide for the German speaking group, an absence of a proficient English speaking guide, is incomprehensible, and inexcusable, considering the same pricey voyage cost, charged of all 3 languages' speaking groups.
If the Aranui cares to attract English speaking people, it should equally treat and adequately cater to the language understanding needs of this particular clientele, without letting the joining people feel as a second rate group,
Olivier Potte -Second speaker
Olivier Potte - a French speaking Director of the Te Fare Natura- an Anthropological,Ethnological,Natural Science -Eco-Museum at Moorea Island, who joined the voyage, as a special guest speaker, gave an excellent overview, with a very heavy Frenchy English on the:
"Geological and Morphological creation and disolvement of the island’s lagoons"
The volcanoes of the South Pacific are different than any other volcanoes ,
The floor of parts of the south pacific ocean moves on . A tectonic plate starting at the Marquesas until Easter island moves more or less as one plate , although “ smaller plates move within this huge Polynesian plate . Each of these Sub-plates is an archipelago - Society archipelago , Marquesas archipelago , Etc .
There are plumes of extreme heat that continuously flow from 1000 miles deep off the core of the earth, called hot spots . As the tectonic plate moves, the hot spots erupt in a different area, shooting magmatic material and resulting in continuous formation of volcanoes, which live and die, once they move above, below to the ocean, away, and also due to erosion.
These are very different than eruptions that are a result of tectonic plates collisions.
More Wine & Dine
The excessive eating, sitting, and wine sipping, while being sea lulled, induced a drowsiness, that only climbing up the ship’s stairs or taking the Hula class with its movement of the hips, like a true Tahitian, would snap out the semi comatose stricken passengers, out of this drowsy state.
To be continued....