Rapa Iti, the reason of my trip. I planned to spend a month at the south tip of French Polynesia, on Rapa Iti-Oparo, an isolated island where the community life is strong and where they still listen to the elders advices as to not built any airport. A population of 500 persons. Check on Google earth 27°36'19.04"S 144°20'36.69"W
Departure to Tubuai and Rapa for the kids that are from the two islands but have to go to Tahiti to finish their scolarship. It's been 4 months since they haven't seen their family and their island. It's also a chance for the Rapa people that are living in Tahiti to go see their family for the holidays.
Looking back at what we are leaving.
Out of my 17 days trip I spent 10 days on the Tahiti Nui. We were all sleeping together as a big family.
Tubuai, our first stop. The lagoon is beautiful even from the space. About 2000 persons live on 45 km2 land. I tried their lytchees, they were delicious!! Check Google earth 23°43.62"S 149°29'32.77"W
The GIP crew going on shore to drop off some gear and pick up the Rapa kids.
Tino & Tino. On the left, Tino, my Rurutu friend that works on the boat. He is one of the biggest person I know. And on the right Tino the captain.
Back home for the Tubuai people. After one day on the sea, they arrive in their beautiful lagoon but there isn't any pier. The nice GIP crew are carrying the women to the shore.
Happy to be back home.
The Rapa kids with their happy school director for a last 2007 photo. They've spent 4 months without seeing their family and they couldn't wait to be back home in Rapa.
My Tubuai friend Kaoko Miroslav happy to be back home and posing for a last souvenir photo on Tubuai beach.
This is what I call the polynesian cruise ship. It's the best cargo boat I took so far to travel around French Polynesia. We had hot water, clean bathrooms and a.c. in the sleeping room.
The boat crew loading the last basket on Tubuai.
My friends Felix and Nimo. They are the cooks and they made sure I had food and water for the 10 days I spent on the sea.
On the way to Rapa, the mayor of Rapa (red pants), Terii from Rapa (green shirt) and his friend were playing local music on the hallway.
Arriving in Rapa. We can see Rapa under the clouds. We arrived there at night time and I didn't see that much of the landscape. That's the only view I have of the Island. It was already cold at that point of the trip. I stayed on the island 4 hours and I decided to follow Pierrot and the Rapa dance group to Ua Pou for their first festival. The climate is cold there and I felt like I was in France in spring. They have the best peaches and the best sea urchin I ever ate.
On my way to Ua Pou via Tahiti I met two family from Rapa and I can stay with them when I go back there. On my left is Aukura (yellow hat), a great fisherman and Poe on the back (white shirt). She is "the pearl of Rapa". Then Simone (blue shirt) Andre and Yvan (on my right). I knew them from Moorea as they were living there before. They moved to Rapa couple years ago as Simone is from Rapa. They love their new life there.
Approaching Ua Pou. A great view of the island with the mountains in the clouds.
View of Ua Pou from Google earth. We stayed in Hakahau on the north as the festival was there. 20 years ago Ua Pou organized the first festival and since the Marquises community have a festival every 4 years and a mini festival 2 years after the main ones.
In the boat and for the last time, the Rapa iti are practicing the haka they will perform for our arrival. Pierrot (on the right with the yellow head band) is the Rapa school director but also the Tamariki Oparo (Rapa old name) dance group leader.
Arriving in Hakahau, Ua pou "capital". A population of about 3000 persons and more than half of it is living in Hakahau. Check the bay on google earth at 9°21'30.07"S 140°02'53.75W
Hakahau bay from the space. On the left you can see the road to the other valley and to the airport. It's the most populated valley of Ua Pou and that's where they organized the festival. You can see a big empty triangle space in the middle of the picture, this was the festival site.
At the 7th Marquisas Festival opening. The Rapa iti group from the Australes (French Polynesia) was by the Rapa Nui (Pascuan Island) group. Each group performed dances and haka from their island . We all shared a great moment.
Jhonny Tucki Hucke, the leader of the Rapa Nui group.
They estimate 3000 visitors for the festival and about 1500 dancers from all around the Pacific. The big groups from each island of Marquise were taking you back to the past, thinking how scary they could have been to fight. The pahu (big drums right down the flags) players were giving the rythm. It was an unforgetable moment.
Marquisians taking over the world. They are so proud and so into their culture that it makes me shiver to hear and see them.
The Nuku Hiva group. 200 of them came to share their specific dance and pahu rythm as they are the masters of the pahu. Beside the pahu they had the kids walking on stilts, wich I never saw before. Also, for their big show, 3 women and 3 men performs the most beautiful bird dance I ever seen.
While waiting for our turn (I was with the Rapa iti), I went around to take some pictures and I saw those beautiful girls from the Marquisas. Some of their flower crown were made out of pineapple and santal wood powder.
Waiting for their turns.
Two youngs dancers from Hiva Oa. The transmission of the knowledge was the topic of the 7th Marquises Festival. In 1986, the first festival took place in Ua Pou. The Marquisians were affraid to see their tuhuka (masters of the marquisian society) going away without transmiting their knowledge so they decided to celebrate their culture and motivate the younger with the Festival.
Our Rapa Iti-Oparo group, happy and proud to be in Ua Pou to represent their island. We were one of the smallest group but nobody could missed us.
The very popular Rapa Nui dancers. They were so into their culture, no shame and so proud. They were the rock stars in Ua Pou as every girls wanted to have a picture with them and the guys were wishing they could have their outfits.
Petero, a Rapa Nui artist and carver waiting for his "ti" (a special polynesian root) juice. The "ti" juice is still eaten in Rapa iti and it was the sugar in the old times in the Pacific.
Nuku Hiva bringing their underground cooked food.
Mila is trying to cut the lobsters they brought back from Rapa Iti. The people became crazy when they see the lobster and started to fight over it. The Rapa iti also had some taro, their main food.They use it to make "popoi" (fermented crushed taro). The orange food is the "ti" roots and they also brought some "nanue", a very delicious and fat fish. They sea foods and fishes are known to be very fat and tasty.
Dry Ua Pou. It's has been a very dry season. The river were dry, they had to cut the water sometimes. The bee-keeper was worried too as his honey stock was going down.
The transmission of the knowledge by the Hiva Oa group.
The Ua Pou group dancers with the kids in the front row.
The Hiva Oa men leader focusing.
The Napuka group were the honor guests as they descendants were from the valley of Hohoi in Ua Pou. They can come back to Hohoi whenever they want, they have lands to live there but to make sure they were from Napuka (Tuamotu islands) the Marquisians let them dry in the sun for a half day. They past the test.
Marquisian group in Hakahetau.
Pahu player to welcome us in Hakahetau
The love bouquet making. In the Marquises, when someone likes you, they will offer you a necklace with a love bouquet at the end to make you fall in love with him or her.
The love necklacewith the magic bouquet at the end.
The Rurutu people (Australes) were with us the whole trip as we took the same boat from Tahiti. They are famous for their heavy rock carrier and for their beautiful hat too. Too bad their coconut trees are attacked by fleas. Now to weave the hats they have to order their young coconuts leave in the Tuamotu islands.
Pootu means beautiful in marquisian.
Petero (left) with his friend are showing their search stage canoe model. They are looking back to their ancestors knowledge and writting to try to bring their canoe culture and history back on. They are also trying to get some more informations by meeting people from all around the Pacific.
Special one for Matahi and my dad. The modern "vaka" with the traditional propeller.
Mila, Lanihei and meready for the big show. Mila weaved our tops with some plants from Rapa. I was surprised to see what Mila could do with any plants. She could dress herself up without modern clothes.
The boys and myself at the top of one of the most beautiful bay we've seen on Ua Pou, the shark bay. Thanks to Maui, Tabscott and the boat crew for the car ride.
Mila and Pierrot were taking care of us with the help of Isa, Vaiata and Tati Teuira, some beautiful and unforgetable people.