Weather, Food, and My Bad French (cont.)

It’s funny about my French. If I say one or two words, even a short sentence, you could be deceived by my accent into thinking that I speak the language. But the minute I try to say something complex – or not even – the sorry truth is revealed.

This morning, for example, I’m quite sure that when I tried to tell the woman who was taking our laundry not to bother ironing it, I actually said that I never overtake (when driving). I can remember how to conjugate the oddest tenses (“I would have liked to have been asked…”) but I don’t know the most basic words for trash or outlet or receipt or anything, really.

My comprehension is a little better, though the Marquesans are sometimes hard for me to follow and the French speak too quickly until they grasp how useless I am. What often seems to happen is that I think I know what someone’s telling me — like that the road I’m looking for is at the end of the concrete — and then it turns it out that what they really said was that it was where the concrete started.

Seven, I should add, does not speak a word of French and cannot understand Marquesan, which is quite different from Maori. Still, he’s good value when we get off the beaten path. Everyone here is interested in where he comes from. He’s obviously not Tahitian (since he doesn’t speak French) and New Zealand, if you have a look at the map, is pretty darn far from here.

As for food, some of it is great, some of it is strange, some of it is really expensive, but the main issue is that for Dani virtually all of it is unrecognizable. I knew this would be a challenge for him. A Tongan acquaintance of mine recommends traveling with a jar of peanut butter (a death food from Matiu’s point of view, but perhaps we could just keep it away from his luggage…) and if Dani doesn’t start to experiment soon that may be where we end up. Our best find so far is a casse-croute from the truck on the side of the road: ham and some kind of soft cheese in a baguette for about $2. Everyone likes that.

A few more pictures from Nuku Hiva.

The view from a lookout on the way to Hatiheu:

on the road to Taipivai

Matiu at Anaho:


Me, resting, on the hike back up:


Seven, frolicking in the wave:

Seven swimming

No wonder people are nicer to us when they see him….

Farewell aux Marquises

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Editor of Harvard Review and author of "Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia" and "Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All."

7 thoughts on “Weather, Food, and My Bad French (cont.)”

  1. Wow – I didn’t know you were going until you were gone! I am really enjoying following you on this adventure. I find it amusing how chic you are in New England and so strikingly pale in the South Pacific! I hope Dani doesn’t starve …. Look forward to more of your posts.


  2. What a great post! It looks beautiful there. Wonderful photos of the adventurous family … 🙂
    Looking forward to the next installment. C, you sound more rested, settled now.


  3. Hi Guys,
    What an adventure! Love the posts Christina – can see the bones of a book already. Hi to all your boys. Love to you. Tessa.

  4. great – keep it coming. am enjoying the armchair travel experience. and yes. s’s pic is, well, just amazing. thx – a

  5. Hi Christina!

    These posts are really fun! I usually just read the teaser and then get hooked into the website. And the photos are terrific – the one today with the mountains and the ocean made me scrunch up my face in the library with envy. We are having a heat wave here – one of those time/temp signs in Boston said 100 as I walked to an interview yesterday …

    Looking forward to the next post!

  6. Love the posts… the only thing we miss is seeing Seven in spandex.

    Eli says to tell Dani that if they serve frog legs and snails in Lincoln, the new food “over there” can’t be all bad…


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