We arrive outside of Fatu Hiva, the eastern-most island of Polynesia in the early morning of our twenty-third day at sea. It is still dark out when I wake up for my shift, but you can just make out the outline of the island in the black sky. I keep smiling at it and kind of bounce all over the boat with energy, making dolphin sounds back at a group of dolphins that was giving us an early morning welcome call
“Eee Eee Eee!” (Come here dolphins, I wanna pet you)
“EEE EEE!” (It’lllll be fuuuun…)
But the dolphins aren’t having it. Maybe they speak MarquesanEEEs.
Then the sun starts rising behind the island and I run out of things to say. I can’t stop staring at it. The color fades in with the sunrise, deep lush green covering the craggy outcroppings. Thick clouds resting above, obscuring the peaks. There’s a feeling of mystery in the island’s presence that I can’t quite describe.
We set foot on the island later that day, longing for a celebratory meal (or any meal that wasn’t cooked by us, or really anything besides rice and beans). Past the small soccer field and down the thin road and already my legs are tired. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, smiles at us from a poster, as if to remind us we’re technically in France. Weird. Nick and Alex start picking fresh limes but there’s no restaurant to be found.
We head back to the main drag and plop down on a stoop while to wait for the store to open. We’re all just sitting, not really talking, just looking around, and that’s when it really hits me. You can walk around without bracing yourself against something, hear the world without the constant sound of waves and wind, focus your eyes on a point without everything around it moving, sit somewhere and just be totally still.
I think that’s what hit me hardest, just how great it is to be still and quiet and calm. I’ll hold onto that thought for a long time.