Mark Phillips, 2005.10.17 Huahine, French Polynesia
Mark Phillips, 2005.10.17 Huahine, French Polynesia
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

October 24, 2005:

When you participate in a package tour or stay in a resort, there are trade-offs.

You gain the confidence that you're going to be taken care of. There will be people who speak English, you'll be fed, your activities can be arranged for you, you'll have a spectrum of options that will be easily available. You can relax, do sports, participate in an excursion.

You lose, firstly, any sense of what life is like for the people, because you're very carefully screened from ever meeting them. Importantly, you also miss the chance of meeting those wonderful, rare individuals who are simply being genuinely themselves.

In a cottage on the grass behind the beach you sit at a table in gathering dusklight enjoying your conversation.

She's small, thin, very bright, very kind. She's suffered, she has a painful physical ailment. But, she's not bitter. She's joyous and warm, and when she learns of your interest in the people and their lives before the missionaries came, she tells you this story.

Up the mountain through the jungle on dirt trails not usually mapped there's a marae with a ti'i that yet lives. Visitors don't go there, even the archaeologists who've rebuilt other sites. Only locals. And not very often.

One time the pain from her illness was so great that her family took her to the old marae. She made an offering, praying to the ti'i for relief. She slept there that night, and when she awoke she had no pain, none, the first time without suffering in many months. It lasted three full days.

"Don't go there alone!" she says. "The trail is slippery, it's been raining. And anyway. Don't go there alone."

On the road within 200 meters of Club Med you reach tin-roof shacks without walls, yards rubbish-strewn, faces cold. They have spectacular views from their homes. But they have no running water, and they don't return smiles.