While in Moorea, Tahiti, we ventured into the lush center of the island. Our guide drove us through the dense rainforest through mosquito-laden tunnels of palm fronds, across swift running streams, and up narrow, steep pseudo-roads until we could drive no further—a trek worthy of praise from Indiana Jones! Then we climbed up humid, slippery, moss-covered footpaths, weighed down by the thick, hot air that sat stagnant within the jungle. Finally, the forest parted and opened up, and we came upon a gentle waterfall that emptied into a crystalline fresh water pool. The cool spray danced off the surface and an unexpected light breeze blanketed the heavy, humid air. I felt as if I had just entered a secret place, and had to put out of my mind that I was probably the millionth traveler introduced to it.
While we bathed in the welcomed pool, the guide conspicuously gathered palm leaves to construct a tablecloth and draped it over a large, flat rock. He worked emotionless and diligently, as quiet and eerie as the light breeze that came from nowhere earlier. One by one, the five of us approached him curiously. For a quick second our curiousness turned to caution when he unsheathed a small machete and cleaned it with a handkerchief, but much to our delight, he began to quarter bananas, lime-green colored grapefruit, and plump mangoes for our tasting. He used the side of the large knife to serve us the first pieces of fruit, and instructed us to savor all pieces together in our mouths, to blend the flavors. A symphony of the tropics burst in my mouth as the earthy banana blanketed the sour grapefruit, and then combated for supremacy with the sugary mango—what a perfect island memory that everyone should experience.