Friday, September 20, 2013
If you have something in the middle of a whole lot of nothing, what have you got?
I want to talk today about French Polynesia.
It has a flag* and everything:
...and according to wikipedia, some important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are Ahē, Bora Bora, Hiva ’Oa, Huahine, Mai’ao, Maupiti, Meheti’a, Mo’orea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tupua’i, and Tūpai.
I kid you not.
Island paradises all, probably.
The capital of French Polynesia is Papeetē on the island of Tahiti, but the largest city, according to wikipedia, is Fa’a’a....
Then why have I, the legendary rhymeswithplague, never heard of it?
Chalk it up to a faulty education, I suppose.
Clicking on Fa’a’a in that wikipedia article took me to another article entitled Faaa.
Faaa, without the accompanying apostrophes.
The mind, it reels.
And asks continually, why? Why? WHY?
But no explanation is ever forthcoming.
I am interested in history and exploration, and the following paragraph was my favorite part of the article:
“European communication began in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, sailing in the service of the Spanish Crown, sighted Puka-Puka in the Tuāmotu-Gambier Archipelago. Dutchman Jakob Roggeveen came across Bora Bora in the Society Islands in 1722, and the British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. The French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti in 1768, while the British explorer James Cook visited in 1769. In 1772 The Spanish Viceroy of Peru Don Manuel de Amat ordered a number of expeditions to Tahiti under the command of Domingo de Bonechea who was the first European to explore all of the main islands beyond Tahiti. A short-lived Spanish settlement was created in 1774. Some maps still bear the name Isla de Amat for Tahiti, which was named after Viceroy Amat in the 18th century. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year. Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797.”
Unless it was this photograph of the building that houses the seat of government, the Assemblée de la Polynésie française or, as the islanders call it, Te âpoora’a rahi o te fenua Māòhi:
Hey, except for the sign out front it could be an A-frame in Sevierville, Tennessee:
But it isn’t.
No, French Polynesia boasts scenes like this:
(2006 photo by Scott Williams used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)
They sure beat mowing the lawn on a hot afternoon.
Ah, French Polynesia, the land of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific; the land (though not exactly) of French planter Emile De Becque (as portrayed by Ezio Pinza) singing “Some Enchanted Evening” to U.S. Navy Nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush (as portrayed by Mary Martin) ; the place called home by the likes of painter Paul Gauguin, Tarita Teriipia (third wife of actor Marlon Brando), Cheyenne Brando (daughter of Marlon and Tarita), Tuki Brando (Cheyenne’s son, a model who is “currently the face of Versace menswear” according to wikipedia), and writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
But perhaps you are a winter person, a lover of ice and snow, bobsledding, skiing, one-horse open sleighs. For you we will now all link arms and join in a round of a grand old wintertime song:
Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa’a’a Fa’a’a Fa’a’a!
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa’a’a Fa’a’a Fa’a’a!
So, I ask again: If you have something in the middle of a whole lot of nothing, what have you got?
A. French Polynesia
B. Another fascinating post from rhymeswithplague.
The correct answer is B.
*This post was inspired yesterday afternoon when I found the flag of French Polynesia in that little Feedjit Live Traffic Feed thingy over in the sidebar after someone from Mahina (the third largest city in French Polynesia after -- class? -- Fa’a’a and Papeetē) visited my blog. That flag became the 163rd flag in my little collection of flags of the nations of the world that have visited my blog.