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Exploring the town of Taioha’e

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The landscape of this island, Nuku Hiva, is so extreme it can be hard to find flat ground. That’s why the airport is on the opposite shore from the main town, Taioha’e: there’s only one runway compatible patch of ground. After landing in a small plane, you drive an hour through stunning hills and valleys […]

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Getting to know Koueva

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Smoke from burning leaves lifted into the morning sky. Two custodians had arrived before us, though it was still early, to continue the endless work of carving this site out from the surrounding forest. Debora Kimitete explained that the name of this site, Koueva, refers to dancing that begins in the evening and goes right […]

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The woman who opened the door

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Debora Kimitete showed us how to slam the car door correctly, so it wouldn’t fly open again. We would spend the day in her Land Rover that has had more adventures than I could ever hope for.   The streets of Taiohae are full of memories for Debora, but an important place to begin was […]

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Crossing Nuku Hiva to reach the beginning

Flying over Nuku Hiva

The views from the air were beautiful. When we came here by ship, just over a week ago, it took a day and a half to reach the Marquesas, the most distant archipelago in French Polynesia. Now we would return to the largest island, Nuku Hiva, in a matter of hours.   Before traveling here, […]

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Storytelling at Marae Arahurahu

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Guests streamed up the dirt road and wound through trees and flowers to the site of the performance. The bleachers were almost full when we arrived. Dancers and musicians rushed through their final preparations, and then the scene was set. If this place had a roof, they were about to blow it off.   This […]

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The Heiva festival launches our journey

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The Heiva i Tahiti runs for weeks. It is the largest, splashiest cultural festival in French Polynesia, and people come from all over the archipelagos to attend. It covers sport, handicrafts, and other cultural events, but the big nights are reserved for song and dance. The troupes are huge and they can perform here on […]

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Agonizing over packing

A view of some mountains in French Polynesia.

Preparation means packing. I’m away from home five months per year, and I’m still terrible at packing. Especially when I’ve spent the last three years working in the Arctic and now … heat!! I have agonized over sunscreen (reef safe), sun hats (tourist alert), rash guards (new for me), and bathing suits (ugh). I’ve finally […]

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