Polynesian Hospitality

We heard and read about the Polynesian hospitality before we came to the Gambier Islands and were curious, whether people would still be friendly and generous to strangers, or whether they were already fed up with too many tourists taking advantage of them.

We were positively surprised how alive the Polynesian hospitality still is. Everybody passing on the street greets with a friendly smile, people wave out of cars and when we went hiking last week we had an especially nice encounter: a woman actually came running after us, invited us to her terrace, got out a table and chairs for us, cut up fruit, introduced us to all her children and insisted on packing bananas and grapefruits in bags for us to carry back home. Isn’t that amazing? Imagine what a nice the place the world could be, if more people acted like that…
Today a young man invited us into his garden, offered us papayas and a whole banana plant for free and before we could stop him he uprooted two trees(!) to give the roots (manioc) to us–all with a smile and without accepting any payment. In the beginning we didn’t know how to deal with such generosity, but now we try to always have small presents with us to hand out, so that we don’t feel bad about taking advantage of people ;-)

Maybe we were lucky in our choice of island, because the Gambier still have very few visitors (especially compared to crowded places like Tahiti and Bora Bora). Tourism here is limited to the few cruisers on the sailboats and occasional visitors arriving on the weekly plane.

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