Tahiti is an island and, at the same time, a people always keeping an eye on the ocean and another one on the mountains. They pray to the water and then to the forest, as if they were two symbiotic beings. Vanira lodge lies on a hill, steep enough to plunge into light dawns and deep sunsets, high enough to touch star-quilted night skies, close enough to Teahupoo’s waves to hear them rumble, close enough to the mountains to climb them. A green hill on the southern coast of Tahiti Iti, la Presqu’île, the wild part of the island, the one we love more. Evening comes quickly with the taste of lobster with honey, and morning comes quickly with the smell of coconut bread and banana and mango jam. ‘Fare’ is the word for ‘house’, the traditional house, which is typically completely organic – bamboo and screw-pine and palm-tree leaves of different sizes. The nine fare of Vanira are raw bungalows, the light quilts have big cloth flowers stitched – azure or purple hibiscus. It is the Polynesian patchwork, the nicest handmade tifaifai I have seen in Tahiti. You sleep under them in the fresh woods night; the beds are big single or double cribs protected by veils of white tulle. The Lichee fare is our favourite, sweet and harmonious, airy, with a wooden footbridge, the original wood-and-glass wall that opens completely, folding like an accordion, and the curtains of thin bamboo canes that filter the light. Mālama honua is a Hawaiian concept that translates as ‘taking care of the earth’, and I think I have found it here.
Words Paola Corini, translation Alessia Andriolo