The Isle of Pines. After many years of visiting this special place, we have come to realize that there are many “worlds” on this little island. The local Kunie people for the most part run their own affairs, and are supported by health, education and other services from the French government. Cruise ships come and go, and help support a small tourism industry, along with numerous fine accommodations. Members of the yachting and cruising community begin arriving in small numbers at the beginning of the winter months, and increase their numbers as summer approaches, before departing again before the start of the cyclone season. We have been privileged to spend enough time here to make friends, to get to know our way around the island and to notice the few changes that occur over the years, and actually how little does change.
The twice a week farmers market brings us in close contact with the talented “green thumbs” of the island, including access to edible native plants, snails and locally caught fish. Displays, traditional dancing and food stalls set up for the passengers of a cruise ship, provide entertainment and more food experiences for us as well. The eight different local tribes take turns hosting each cruise ship. I enjoy watching the locals interact at the market and elsewhere, and the children are particularly charming.
Several times a year the local people organize festivals and special ceremonies. The use of pandanus leaves for weaving panels, hats, baskets, birds, turtles, and much more, and decorating them with hibiscus flowers and many others is quite beautiful. The women wear colorful dresses and decorate their hair with flowers. Children swim at the nearby beach, while their families picnic under the coconut palms. There is a lot of laughter on this island, and we are happy to be as much a part of it as we are. Many thanks to our friends Cleo and Albert, Brigitte and Tony for introducing us around, inviting us to take part in the island’s activities, and sharing with us a cup of tea in their garden.