In the Wake of the Ancients August 19, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , trackback
By Tracy L. Barnett
The sun’s first rays touched the outlines of the mountains outside my window, and the whir of a boat engine broke the gentle silence. Aboard the sailboat Apetahi, its captain, the towering, tattooed Turo, lifted anchor. His coworker, Hinano, worked below decks in the kitchen, a fragrant tiare blossom tucked behind her ear, a ready smile and a cheery Iaorana—the Tahitian equivalent of “Aloha”— for sleepy passengers climbing up from their cabins. Living from the sea as her forebears have for a thousand years, she was preparing a tender poisson cru from a fresh-caught tuna, seasoned lightly with just-squeezed coconut milk and a touch of lemon.
Today, we were headed to Raiatea, home of Marae Taputapuatea, the most important precolonial temple of prayer in Polynesia: From New Zealand in the southwest, to Hawai‘i in the north, to the Marquesas in the northeast, people have converged on this spot for centuries with their offerings and petitions. Some still do. At this spiritual center of the Polynesian universe, at the foot of the sacred mountain overlooking the sea, I sought an answer to the question that brought me.
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