Poolynesians love flowers, and both genders like wearing them. If you are visiting Polynesia, it is well worth being aware of the meaning of a flower tucked behind somebodies ear.
If you wear a flower behind your left ear, it means you are taken. If on the other hand you wear a flower behind your right ear, it means you are available to the opposite sex (or perhaps to the same sex, or perhaps to both sexes...).
However you can have the best of both worlds, by wearing a flower behind both ears. This means that you are taken, but that you are also available.
So depending on what sort of holiday you want to have, you may wish to stock up on flowers when you get there! They tend to wilt pretty quickly in the heat...
The Polynesians invented tattooing - the process of 'hammering' ink under the skin to leave pictures or artistic designs.
It is very common for Polynesians to have tattoos, and they do not have any stigma associated with them like they do in some places in the West.
If you want a Polynesian tattoo, it is very easy to get one done with several places such as the Tiki Village offering the service. At the Tiki Village you can see them using the age old process of how they used to tattoo with a hammer. The name tattoo comes from the sound the hammer made as it tapped the dyes into the skin - "ta-tu ta-tu ta-tu".
We found it hard to believe, but we were told gratuities are not accepted in French Polynesia and that it is actually frowned upon. Additionally, we were told that a smile and a thank you is priceless and that the locals would be very appreciative if you would just do that. We simply kind of asked around at different places we went, but it seemed to be the general custom not to tip. You see in the photo my friend leo with a local woman, and she has a huge smile!!! We should all try to smile a little more each day...
Driving arund you will see some very nice churches like the one in the picture, and it was surprising to learn that over half of the people on Moorea (and in Tahiti) are Protestant. This is a bit strange considering the French influnence that also encouraged the practice of the Catholic religion. Today only about 25% of the population is Catholic, whereby over 50% are Protestant.
The average temperature is 26.5°C (79.9°F) and rarely goes above 32°C (89.6°F). The prevailing winds are the easterly trade winds. In Winter (June to September) the Maraamu is a cool wind which blows from the southeast. The rainy season extends variably from December to April (alternating sunny and rainy spells).
The island has nearly 12 000 inhabitants, essentially Polynesian or "demi" (mixed blood). The inhabitants are scattered all around the island and in the valleys. 48% of the population is younger than 20.
The official language is French, but most people speak "Reo Maohi" among themselves.
This small tree is a sacred plant. Tahitians believe it possesses mystical and magical qualities that will protect the house from fire. Wherever you will see this plants around a house, you will know that there is a Tahitian family living in the house.
Even today, dancers, high priests and firewalkers still wear the green leaves of this tree for protection.
The ti is also used in traditional healing for diarrhea, vomiting, abscesses or ear infections.
This red fruit, easily found on the island, is used for lipstick. When you open it there are small red seeds in it. Rub the seeds over your fingers and colour your lips with those fingers. They only come in one colour :-)
PK = poste kilometre, the number of kilometers starting from a certain point on the island.
On Moorea, the location of important places and buildings is indicated by PK + a number. This means that it is located that many kilometers away from the post office in Temae. You can find the markers on the mountainside of the road and they have the shape of the island.
Enlarge the pic to see this handsome guy with all his tattoos.
Tattooing is a traditonal Tahitian form of art, that is still very popular. In former days, the tattoo was the identification of one's rank in society.
There are some tattoo shops on the island. Don't worry for your health, all of the tattooists are regularly controlled by the sanitary office.
So it is said that the word tattoo originated in Tahiti. The legend of Tohu, the god of tattoo, describes painting all the oceans’ fish in beautiful colors and patterns. In Polynesian culture, tattoos have long been considered signs of beauty, and in earlier times were ceremoniously applied when reaching adolescence.
Since my husband is polynesian he has many tattoos. Most of them are polynesian tats while others are other stuff like my sons face on his arm or other designs about things that are important to him.
He has also picked up a little habit of getting tattooed whenever we go on a trip. Of course only if the artist work is good and the place is clean and acceptable.
So even before we got to Tahiti he talked about getting tattooed here. It only seemed fitting to him since this is where it all began. He was recommended to someone from the hotel staff. The Hotel had some of his work on display but my husband wasnt to impressed by it. He then went to the tatto artist studio which isnt too far from the hotel and saw more of his work. The artist name was Albert. He works out of a studio near the Moorea Pearl Resort and out of the hotel as well. His english is limited as he mostly speaks Tahitian and French. He checked out Robs other work on his body and together they determined what to get and where. Basically he filled in with some Polynesian (Tahitian ) design on some of the empty parts of Robs arm. It took about 4 hours and he pretty much free styled his design.
The cost was cheaper than it would have been in the States for that amount of time and the work was great. Albert was very professional, clean and a bit of a perfectionist. Rob was very pleased with the way to work turned out.
As a matter of fact he kept getting stopped by even the locals to admire his work. Then they would give that nod of approval that the work looked good.
Nono or Noni is very important in Moorea. The fruit of this tree is greenish and looks like a swollen potatoe. You can eat it but its taste is not really good. The Noni has medicinal and tonic properties. Many locals drink a little bit of the juice in the morning and the evening which keeps them healthy.
Moorea was populated by navigators who arrived in large double outrigger canoes from Southeast Asia approximately 1000 years ago. The name MOOREA comes from a vision that a Great Priest had on a 'marae' of a beautiful yellow lizzard which is called Moorea in Tahitian.
The government owns most of the Pao Pao valley where they farm out a piece of land to people for pineapple plantations. The government has a program to give one hectare for free to young people where they can try for six months to set up a farming business. If they succeed they can rent the land, if not they have to give it back to the Government.
Our guide told us that today's young people are quite lazy and don't succeed. Most farmers you will find in the valley are middle aged.
I saw two different local beers. I cant remember the name of the other one but this one was called Hinano. It was very good. Taste similar to Stella. We drank this the whole time we were here.