May 25, 2011
Unicycles, Marbles and French Lessons
"What's that called?" he asked.
"A unicycle," Evan told him.
"No, in French. What's that called in French?"
We couldn't tell him the name, but we could let him try it. And after several attempts Evan wore out in the heat so Ito and his friends taught Evan and Maia to play marbles. It's a school holiday they told us. And the kids learn a bit of English in school we discovered—which led to everyone practicing numbers and colours. And maybe we will see them tomorrow. Yes, with the unicycle.
We travel slowly. Even with a rudder. We don't even try to see every anchorage and every island because we know there is no chance of that. But when you go slowly—there's sometimes the chance to play marbles on the beach, or perhaps find a favourite shopkeeper, who you go back to day after day. And who after a few days starts saving you your favourite things—and you don't have to ask. And sometimes you spend just long enough in a place that it starts to feel a little like home—so much so that it hurts to leave.
There are many ways to travel. You can travel by lists, or by schedules, or by stories. We travel by stories, I think. We arrive in each place and wait for the narrative to reveal itself. We could march through town—entering every store, recording what we see, seeing it all (whatever that means). But we tend to meander aimlessly down roads that look inviting; entering stores because we like the tree out front; stopping when we see a flower we haven't noticed before.
And when there are children on a beach who want to teach us to play marbles—we have time to learn and hear their stories.
* We were unable to get Internet today in Oa Pou--but will try tomorrow. It seems though our little group of boats is again waiting for weather before we can head to the Tuamotus...
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