"Tid Bits of Info"

Hello- Ia orana
Welcome- Maeva
Goodbye- Na na
Thank you-Maururu
Yes- E
No- Aita
Man- Tane

Fare: Tahitian thatched roof bungalow
Ahimaa: Covered pit with heated volcanic stones for cooking
Marae: Tahitian temple
Motu: Small islet on the reef
Oa Oa: Happy
Pareu: Two meters of cloth worn in as many ways as you can imagine
Tamaaraa: Tahitian feast
Tamure: Traditional dance
Tapa: Bark cloth

Tahiti's most famous form of transportation is the inimitable le truck. This brightly painted jitney is actually a flatbed truck outfitted with an open- air cabin and wooden seats. Just wave to the driver to stop and pay when you get off. It is an entertaining and inexpensive way to get around and see the sights.

Scented with the essence of flowers minoi is oil extracted from the mature coconut. Minoi can be found in Tahitian products such as suntan oils, lotions, soaps, shampoos, bath gels and balms. It is an inexpensive purchase that you will enjoy and certainly want to take home.

The turquoise lagoons of the Tuamotu Archipelago are a natural haven for the black-lipped oyster, the Pinctada Margaritifera that produces the rare Tahitian black pearl. It is the only jewel to come from a living creature. Its astonishing colors range from silver gray to deep greens iridescent with pink, gold and blue. Some pearls will reflect light with a rainbow-like effect, but all have their own luster and magic. The black pearl is French Polynesia's biggest export item and the most sought after souvenir purchase by visitors.

Similar to the sarong, it is a cool, comfortable, all-purpose piece of attire worn by both men and women. It is made with two yards of brightly painted, printed or dyed fabric that can be tied in seemingly countless ways. You will find these colorful garments displayed in shops, sidewalk stands and hotel boutiques on every island.

Natural resources; volcanic rock, coral, shell, bone, teeth, wood and vegetable fibers provide the artists' medium. Finely carved bowls, platters, tikis and ceremonial spears are produced by Marquesan sculptors. The women of Fatu Hiva still beat the bark of certain trees to make tapa. Tiny shells and mother-of-pearl from the Tuamotu lagoons are made into jewelry, decorative mirrors and engraved as souvenir items. Noted for their fine baskets, mats and hats are the Austral Islanders. The "mamas" of the Society Islands create the colorful tifaifai quilts and wall hangings. The artisans of Tahiti are truly master crafts people.

Produced from the inner bark of the mulberry, banyan or breadfruit tree this ornamental cloth is still being made today using the same methods of hundreds of years ago. Men gathered the materials but it was the women who stripped the bark from the branches, scraped it thin, soaked it, beat it to a paper-like thickness and finally decorated it with tattoo like designs.

Commonly used is the lagoon side pandanus. Its leaves are woven to form an ('ete) basket, which provides the Polynesians a multitude of uses. Tahitians use them for cooking, shopping and carrying fruits, vegetables, and fish.

The craftspeople of the Austral Islands are known for their exquisite plait work. A hillside pandanus is used for this higher-quality work. Influenced by the missionaries, the Tahitian woven hats have a European style. You can find them reasonably priced. They make a wonderful souvenir to take home but practically speaking can be quite useful while on vacation.

This ancient art form was used as a way of passing along important stories and legends. It has been an integral part of the Tahitian culture. A tattoo or tatau indicated status and courage. Traditional Polynesian tattooing has enjoyed a major resurgence in recent years.

Transportation in the form of an outrigger canoe indisputably captures the spirit of Tahiti. In the past it was used for fighting wars and for getting from one island to the next. Today it is generally used for fishing and a means for a leisurely exploration of the tranquil lagoons.

This month long Tahitian Festival takes place during the month of July and features dancing, singing, sporting competitions, arts and crafts displays and beauty contests. The sporting events include a host of local specialties including surfing events, canoe races, stone-lifting contests, javelin-throwing contests and fruit-carrying races. Tahiti's rich, artistic culture is celebrated during this joyous festival of song, dance, fun and games.

Filmed on Moorea in 1993 "A Love Affair" was a remake of the 1957 movie, "An Affair to Remember", also filmed on Moorea. In 1979 Dino de Laurentis selected Bora Bora for his movie "Hurricane". Three times in 50 years the story of the famous uprising aboard the Bounty has been captured by Hollywood. "Mutiny on the Bounty" made in 1935 stared Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. "Mutiny on the Bounty" made in 1962 stared Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard. "Bounty" made in 1984 featured Mel Gibson.

During World War II over 5,000 American GIs were stationed on the island of Bora Bora. They came to establish an airstrip and supply base. These military troops inspired the romantic musical "South Pacific". The old runway can still be seen when you arrive by plane on the new runway on Motu Mute.

Tahitians love of beauty is an inherent part of the Polynesian way of life and culture. Both men and women love to adorn themselves with flower leis and heis (a scented crown or wreath of flowers).

This dish of marinated fish is renown and appears on almost every menu. It is very popular and makes for a perfect lite lunch or a starter appetizer. The recipe is simple with delectable results. 1.cube raw tuna. rinse with salted water, leave to soak in refrigerator for 1/2 hour in salted water with crushed garlic. 2. grate 2 raw carrots, dice 2 tomatoes, slice 1 cucumber and chop 3 green onions. 3.drain the liquid from the fish. add the juice of 2-3 limes and let stand 5 minutes. drain and add the vegetables and blend with unsweetened coconut milk. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs.

Renown for their natural grace, innate pride, gentle beauty and warm hospitality, the people of Tahiti are artists in the enjoyment of living. The giggling children are warm and affectionate. They young girls and women are shy and self-conscious, yet sensuous and lively on the dance floor. The young men are natural sportsmen, full of vitality, with an intense zest for life. The old people have merry hearts, gentle souls and smiling eyes and possess a keen sense of humor, dignity and wisdom. Perhaps the most rare and precious of gems you will discover are the Tahitian people.

Tahiti's national flower, the fragrant white gardenia, Tiare Tahiti (gardenia tahitensis). From the moment you step off the plane you be surrounded by the sweet perfume of this luminous, star-shaped flower.

French Polynesia has numerous plantations of this aromatic "black gold" that flourishes in the fertile soil. The variety vanilla tahitensis produces beans that are richer in oil and quite superior to any other species. Tahitian vanilla beans make a fragrant and unusual souvenir for visitors.

The traditional house or dwelling. It is constructed entirely from plant material and is built directly on the ground. The framework is made of coconut wood and the roof of woven coconut palms or pandanus leaves, which are waterproof. Today, the hotels of Tahiti have adopted the style of the fare in creating their charmingly unique bungalows.

Throughout the Society Islands you will find ruins of these large stone temples where various religious and social events took place. Polynesian civilization was essentially passed on by oral means. As a result, little is known about the details of the ceremonies enacted on the marae only two centuries ago.

There are hundreds of species of shells found in French Polynesia. It can be tempting to pick up shells while snorkeling or diving but not recommended as this can upset the ecosystem. A crab may even inhabit a seashell found along the beach. Shells can be purchased in shops along with shell jewelry and shell leis, which make a terrific souvenir.

It is not the view, which visitors come to admire climbing Mount Temehani, but to catch a glimpse of this extremely unique flower that cannot be transplanted and grows nowhere else on earth. Legend has this exquisite flower is the hand of an island maiden who called out to her lover as she died in his arms, "Every morning when you come to the mountain, I will give you my hand to caress".

This tree has been the staff of life for islanders for thousands of years. To a large extent their entire manner of life was intertwined with this extraordinary tree. Every part of the coconut palm, from the tallest palm-frond to the deepest root was used for daily living. It provides food, liquid, material for weaving hats, mats and baskets, fiber for rope, bark and roots for medicine, and oil for perfumes and soaps.

The public market place located in downtown Papeete is not to be missed. Downstairs you find islanders selling every imaginable tropical flower, Tahitian fruits and vegetables and fresh catch of the day. Upstairs you will find locally made crafts including tifaifai quilts, pareus, shell necklaces, woven hats and baskets.

Meals on wheels. In the evening, along Papeete's waterfront you will find roulottes or vans serving the best inexpensive food in town. They are colorfully painted, gaily lit and serve anything from steaks to crepes to chop suey to pizza.

The H.M.S. Bounty is one of the most famous ships to drop anchor in Tahitian waters. In 1789 the Bounty left Tahiti and set sail for Tonga. Captain Bligh had become excessively severe with his crew. His harshness was too difficult for the men to endure after the idyllic life they had enjoyed in Tahiti. Lead by Fletcher Christian, their fury finally exploded into a dramatic mutiny which is remember as the most famous in history.

Captain Cook took this young Tahitian man back to England aboard his ship the Adventure. He was presented to King George III, introduced to famous people and attended balls and hunts. Cook brought Omai back during his third and final voyage to the South Pacific.

Whether snorkeling or diving in the crystal clear waters it is easy to view some of the 800 species of fish. You will often come across brightly-colored angelfish, damsel and clown fish, parrotfish, soldierfish and the strange little boxfish that move about like helicopters.

The French were not the first people from Europe to visit Tahiti. However, a keen interest was aroused when the French navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville claimed it for his homeland. The issue of title to the islands was not resolved with England until 1847. But France never once faltered in their devout conviction that Tahiti was meant to be theirs.

One of the first and most lasting impressions that greet visitors to Tahiti are the lush surroundings, and in particular the gorgeous floral sights and scents which permeate the tropical air. A myriad of tropical vibrancy and perfume, flowers are an essential part of the life in the islands of Tahiti. The "Tiare Tahiti", a heavily scented gardenia forms the basis of the traditional "hei" wreath and part of the greeting for arriving visitors. In fact, the Tiare Tahiti is so important that it has its own national holiday. Orchids, anthuriums, ginger, hibiscus.... Tahiti's abundance of flora will astound and delight you and will certainly be a lasting memory of these fabled isles.

The old time Polynesians knew the directions and seasons of the wind. They used the stars to navigate. The long constellations of stars in the southern hemisphere enable them to locate the islands. They relied on an intuitive understanding of various signs to reach land, the flight of birds, wave forms, the direction of the swell, the sound of the breakers, the color of the clouds, which reflected the sandy shores of the lagoons. Their level of navigation ranks them high among the world's greatest mariners.

Bright colors with artistic designs, the Tahitian stamps have become quite very collectable. Philatelists will discover themes of fruits, flowers, fauna, islanders, outriggers, dance and musical instruments. Stamps can be purchased throughout the islands but the best place is in Papeete at the main post office.

There are 25 different varieties of breadfruit and almost as many uses. Healers used the latex from the bark to plaster fractures, sprains and rheumatism. In early times the tree's sap was used to caulk canoes and the glue was used for capturing birds. The bark from the young branches was used to make tapa and the trunk of the tree could be hollowed out for small canoes. But its main role was that of a wonderful food source for the pre-European Polynesians.

Tahitians have a consuming passion for dance. Everyone dances, men, women and children alike. Dances were directly linked with every aspect of traditional life. So one not only danced for joy, but also to welcome a visitor, to pray to the Gods, to challenge an enemy, to proclaim one's victory in competition or to accompany the great and solemn celebrations on the marae.

Sold everywhere this local beer is available in bottles, cans and on tap. It is brewed on the island of Tahiti in the Punaruu Valley. Hinano is without a doubt the beer of choice as the annual consumption rate is about 65 liters per habitant.

Brilliantly colored appliqued or patchwork throws are made by the Tahitian women. Missionaries introduced the craft and flowers and fruit are the predominant design patterns. Wrapping someone in a tifaifai is a sign of welcome and traditionally; it is an important wedding gift.

This "Mother Hubbard" dress was introduced by the missionaries. Still worn today, the Tahitian women prefer a bright, vibrant palette to the subdued, muted colors of their counterparts.

The hooks were usually carved out of mother-of-pearl and sharpened with the help of coral files. Their shapes varied according the fish they wanted to catch. Little hooks made of shell were kept for fishing in shallow water. Big fish taken from the barrier reef were lured with large wooden hooks with a sharp point.

The "fara", or pandanus is second only to the coconut palm in Polynesia for its usefulness. It is common throughout the islands and although it can grow in mountainous regions, it is mostly found on the atolls where its roots take hold very easily in the salt water and sand. Once dried, its leaves are used for weaving roofs and for basket-making. The sails of ancient canoes were plaited in fara.

Just as dance played an integral role in the Tahitian way of life so did the music that accompanied. Musical instruments were very basic which included percussion and wind. The stringed instruments came much later. The nose-flute, conch-shell and various drums provided rhythm for both festivities and religious ceremonies.

These percussion instruments are usually made from hollowed out tree trunks. The "toere" is a long wooden cylinder, which can be beaten with a stick. The "pahu" is a drum, which has a sharkskin stretched across the top and can be beaten with the hands or with a stick.

The "pu", made out of a large murex (charonia tritonis) was used to summon people to the marae or to announce important news.

This stringed instrument so widely used today came much later than the primitive drums. Probably introduced from Hawaii where they were brought by the Spaniards in the 17th century.

A number of talented European and Polynesian artists work in French Polynesia. Their works are on display in galleries on Tahiti and Moorea. Originals and high-quality prints and posters are available.

Ahimaa is the Polynesian oven in which food is baked. Branches and stones are arranged at the bottom of a hole dug in the ground. The branches are kindled and heat the stones. A layer of banana leaves is then placed on top followed by the layer of food generally consisting of pig, fish and vegetables. The entire pit is then covered with leaves and canvas bags and then sand to make it airtight. Cooking takes several hours. When the oven is opened the feast or Tamaaraa begins!

A Tahitian fruit basket is a cornucopia filled with savory tropical treats. Exotic fruits are as varied in color and taste as they are in shape and texture. You have a grand choice of sweet pineapples, huge juicy grapefruits (pamplemousse), mouth-watering mangoes, luscious papaya, succulent guavas, zesty limes, tropical lychees, bananas in all shapes and sizes, huge watermelons, cantaloupes galore, perfumed vanilla, the versatile coconut plus a magnificent selection of other natural delicacies. The bevy of fruits offered in such abundant quantity and superb quality are a healthful radiance to tropical living.

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