We first visited the community of Hapatoni, on the island of Tahuata, aboard a ship called the National Geographic Orion. The village has a population of about 100 people, and many people of all ages took part in welcoming our vessel. This place made an immediate impression on me, and I resolved to return later in the month with my teammates Eric Guth and Matt Mastrantuono.
Teii, at left, would be our guide when we returned. When Eric took this photo, I hoped we would see all of these people again … and we did!
Hapatoni is in a gorgeous location. This bay is usually calm, and there are many young sharks that shelter in its waters.
Part of what makes the community so beautiful is the people who live here. The Blue House became our home away from home, and as the days went on, more and more people would come by to meet us and visit with family and friends.
The pile of shoes outside the front porch kept growing …
… and so did the crew we spent our time with.
Nights were filled with music (above) and during the day many people took time to show us the details of their home town, and even to give me a crash course in flower harvesting for the purpose of making flower crowns (below).