2008 South Pacific, Futuna
Videos from this trip
I know one excellent way of travelling. Get somewhere, find there yourself some friends and then go with them somewhere else where they take you. During my five months on Wallis I shared a house with Pamela and Gaston, a young couple from the neighboring island of Futuna, who also worked on the mission where I often went. It is little surprising that we spent a lot of time together and enjoyed a lot of fun. Pamela carefully tried to teach me her maternal tongue, so I was somehow studying at the same time the Wallisian and the Futunan language. Thanks to Pamela my Futunan dictionary has been started, which I then developed with help of other people ... and still I am unable to say, which one of the two languages I like more. Well ... friendship begets friendship. For me, Pamela and Gaston were friends, and not just another "natives" ... and in turn, to them I was always "Tominiko" and not just another "papalagi". And that is really appreciated.
Then came the holidays and children from the missionary boarding school returned back home, mostly to Futuna. Pamela and Gaston flew with them to their families, but they offered me to come to see their place. So just after Christmas 2008, I took a tiny twin-engine Twin Otter aircraft and went for a month to Futuna. I lived mostly in Taoa and Kaleveleve with the family of Pamela. Sometimes we went with Gaston to catch fish with throwing nets, other days with Pamela looking for edible mussels in the sand of Tufulega beach. In the evening we played volleyball with other young people from the village. Twice I went on foot around the island to the tomb of St. Peter Chanel, the first martyr of Oceania and the "man with the best heart", as the Futunan people say. I ate with the king of the island as well as with the simplest fisherman, I repaired computers and worked with others in the fields, ate raw fish and breadfruit and "pekepeke" ... and I was completely happy.
In Futuna, I took roots as deeply as in Wallis. I know that when I will get back there one day, this island will look a lot different, but it does not matter so much. Things are not important ... the people are.