Maupiti was another island that we were told we absolutely couldn’t miss. It was a small island – only 6 mi. around – not far from Bora Bora. As our ferry approached Maupiti, I had the same thought going through my head that I’d had when we first approached Bora: “I can’t believe how BLUE the water is!” Deep blue water gave way to turquoise bands and gleaming white strips of sand. My heart fluttered. The view literally took my breath away!

We turned right as we left the dock, passing through the island’s only real village, which was tiny and picturesque, each house seemingly perfectly landscaped with green plants and colorful flowers. We stopped at a snack bar to enjoy a raw tuna salad, one of Polynesia’s delicious specialties.

It was there that we met Marie-Elise and Christian, a French couple who lived on the island. He was retired and she taught French at the local junior high school. We talked over lunch and then they invited us to pitch our tent at their house, instead of in the campground, as we had originally planned. They lived only two houses from the island’s only beach and we put up our tent in the middle of their beautiful garden bursting with palms, tiare de Tahiti and other exotic flowers. We had use of their fridge, shower and toilet, which we wouldn’t have had if we had gone to the campground. They were very interesting to talk to, and they shared stories of life in Polynesia as we drank rum cocktails and ate anise-laced fried fish and homemade flan. We spent two very enjoyable evenings with them.

We spent the daytimes reading novels under the shade of a tree on the beach and taking the occasional dip in the water. The sand was pure white and fine and heavenly to touch. The beach was deserted at almost every hour of the day, except for the two of us.

I made the unfortunate mistake of not verifying the timetable for the ferry back to Huahine. I thought we were arriving at dock an hour before departure, but in fact, it was just pulling away as we rode up. The next ferry was in two days’ time. When we left Marie-Elise and Christian, they had jokingly said, “If you get a flat tire, don’t hesitate to come back!” But we decided we didn’t want to overstay our welcome at their place and so we settled upon going to the campground.

We stopped at the bakery to buy some food, and the woman selling bread had arranged for us to stay at her niece’s house before we even realized what was going on (she was speaking in Tahitian). Her niece had pulled up on a motorbike at the same time as us and before we knew it, she was saying, “Follow me, I have a house where you can stay until the next ferry.” She apparently always slept at her grandmother’s house a few doors down, where the rest of the family lived. So we had our own private house on the water for two days. It was decorated in typical Polynesian style: pareos in bursts of rainbow colors served as wall hangings, table cloths, and table covers. The kitchen, the toilet, and shower were all located outside the house. There was no electricity, but there was a gas lamp.

This was towards the end of May, when people across the Polynesian islands were getting ready for the annual dance competition in Tahiti. We heard the drumbeats in the afternoon and we stopped by in the evening to watch the dance troupes practicing for the inter-isle competition. The women seemed pretty well-organized and choreographed, swiveling their hips in time to the music, but the men were having difficulty following. It was cool to watch. The Polynesians are of the same ethnic group as the Maori in New Zealand and the indigent Hawaiians, and I’ve been told that their dances are very similar.