Azyu à Hapatoni - The hospitality of the sculptors

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On the island of Tahuata, the village of Hapatoni has something different, making it a favorite stopover for many travelers. Crunching a juicy mango that had just been pulled from the tree, the lively 10-year-old Hinano led Coline and Erell off for a swim; our two daughters jumped off the dock dressed in shorts and T-shirts. Then a dozen kids from the village started playing hide-and-seek between the blue, yellow and red motorized dugout canoes or in the thorny branches of the purple bougainvillea. During lockdown, from March to May 2020, nine sailboats remained anchored near the village with a formal prohibition to set foot on land for many long weeks. Very regularly, they all received generous bags of fruit from the inhabitants. Local residents to whom they entrusted their list of groceries, their bank cards and their PIN code so that they could be supplied! Where else in the world is there such trust? In Hapatoni, only a handful of people own a car. «A pirogue is much more useful and cheaper,» says Jules. «Instead of going to the store to spend money, you fish!”. Wherever you look there is a bucolic image: Hélène spins the coconut wadding to make ropes; Jules hunts the wild hens with his more or less trained rooster; another person is bathing his horse in the sea; another one brings back beautiful lobsters; several women sing while arranging the nonis on the trays so that they can ripen. And there are other people sculpting tikis, dishes, spears and hairpins... Jules is a sculptor just like his wife Mirella, like Kalino, Cyril, Marc and so many others. They work with wood, bone, sometimes stone, and other amazing materials: animal vertebrae, swordfish bills, pigs’ teeth, sperm whale teeth, goat horns and deer antlers! One is captivated by their dexterity, imagination and the beauty of the finish. They often settle down for the day along the royal alley, a path paved in 1850 during the reign of Vaekehu II and whose majestic tamanus are now more than a hundred years old.

Who: Jean-Marie, Gaëlle, Coline & Erell
Where: Hapatoni, Tahuata, Marquesas
Multihull: Nautitech 475

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