Traveling to a new place where you have no inkling of the lifestyle that the people live, gives anyone a sense of excitement and an urge to learn more about that place. In 2008, I had the wonderful experience of traveling to the islands of Tahiti with my Polynesian dance group that I perform with. My trip there was more than I ever expected. Upon arriving to the airport in Tahiti, we walked off the plane onto a path leading to the international terminal. We were then greeted by a beautiful Tahitian band playing their Tahitian ukuleles, guitars and singing to their folk songs. It took me by surprise; you would not get that at all in any other hectic airport.
As my trip progressed, I encountered so many learning experiences for myself. The very next day since arriving, my dance group and I were invited by our friends from the group Nonahere, to a traditional welcoming ceremony on the beach. It was a night filled with dance and songs that welcomed new comers to the island. The more I was able to tour the island, the more I was learning about the Tahitian culture.
They live off of the land and mainlysurvive with what nature has to offer.
The sites are one of many beautiful aspects of the island. For a day we took a trip to the island of Moorea. It was a simple and enchanting island. The waters, crystal clear; sands white as can be. We toured the island and visited the Fruit Juice Factory where they concoct various juices and liquors from the island’s home grown fruit. I could see that the people live a simple lifestyle and live without such chaos and complication.
Food is an enormous part of the experience of being in another country. My group and I had the chance to travel to the center of Tahiti, Farehape (fah-de-ha-peh). We experienced how the plants around the island are used for food. They used Ulu (breadfruit) and cooked it in a hima’a (he-ma-ah) an earth oven. One thing I was able to try was shredding the coconut meat and squeezing the shreds until it provided coconut milk. It was a wonderful thing to try. Something you should always do when in another country is try things. You cannot say that something looks unappetizing before even trying it. Do not be afraid of trying new things you have never had before; you never know if you will enjoy it or not.
The most important part of my trip and my reason to travel to Tahiti was dancing. I was extremely fortunate to dance with native Tahitians and learn the tamure (ta-moo-dey) and songs of traditional Tahitian dancing. Experiencing dancing with these people made me understand more of who they were and how the Tahitian traditions came to be. If you ever get the chance to watch a performance in Tahiti at the main venue “Otac” it is one of the most memorable things to see while there. The beauties of the dances are amazing and the music and songs sung are just captivating.
The last day in Tahiti was the saddest. Being there was such a pleasure and befriending the people I had met was the best thing I could have ever done. From them, I was able to really experience life as a Tahitian. My mother and I cried that night saying goodbye. It was like saying goodbye to close family. It was such an exhilarating place to be and such a joy to learn as much as I did by being there.
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