‘David, don’t get into trouble!’ Federica shouts to her little son, who following her, has jumped out of the jeep and is running towards the rubbish bins. She is an Italian from Milan, who has lived in Bora Bora for years and has set up a small perfume company that uses essential oil sourced from the Polynesian islands. ‘Don’t get into trouble’, she says. A phrase that struck me and – who knows why – comes to mind often during these days at anchor in front of the island’s yacht club. Sometimes a simple sentence, even a banal one, can open chasms if uttered at the right time.
When is the last time I got into trouble? Did I seek out trouble, or did trouble find me? And how do you keep yourself out of trouble? Isn’t life a series of small events, small ‘troubles’ if you wish, which create consequences and therefore lead you to more or less happy outcomes? And in this case, can you foresee trouble? To a certain extent, yes, certainly, but how do we factor in chance, destiny and luck? Often with great happiness there is always some sorrow waiting around the corner, or when a beautiful love ends, suffering remains. And the greater the feeling, the greater the pain. That’s life. How can you not get into trouble then? And what kind of life would you give up if you give in to the fear of getting into trouble? The most beautiful stories in the world tell of people who get into trouble. Literature would not be the same without the element of taking a gamble or a risk – the adventure in carrying out a potentially dangerous action. What would a judicious Pinocchio or a more sensible Barry Lyndon have to say?
During this long journey we have faced many problems that it seemed at times as if we were being pursued by bad luck! Whether it was the engine, or the batteries, or the boat that rammed us during the storm. But above all, the greatest difficulties have been due to the pandemic. The loss of our clients who failed to reach us and embark with us, the closed borders, the bureaucracy of the local authorities and the uncertainty of the health advice. Just to get out of French Polynesia, in anticipation of heading for Fiji, we have filled out a multitude of forms and declarations and undergone an expensive Covid-19 test performed under a breadfruit tree, on the island of Raiatea, by a good French doctor who did everything possible to help us navigate the confusing requirements and requests of the various Pacific countries. Obviously, the management of the virus alert has put all the health systems of these islands in difficulty, which barely have small hospitals or, in certain cases, only an outpatient clinic.
Those who follow us on this blog think that our trip is a dream, especially in a period in which our respective countries have spent months in lockdown. And it certainly is a dream come true, of a hope that we have long cultivated and we do feel lucky to have spent these last months in Polynesia, visiting these wonderful islands without tourism and being able to live on the sea and in the open air. But still, how many problems have we faced! How many troubles have befallen us!
Bora Bora is a perfect island. I’ve always dreamed of getting here on a sailing boat. Its lagoon is known for the colour of the water, a turquoise that is so vivid that you can hardly believe it, and at first sight your eyes narrow in amazement. The beaches have very fine, white sand and you just need to free dive in the shallows to swim among manta rays, stingrays and colourful fish. For this reason the island is populated by some of the most well-known resorts in the world, all built over the motu – the islets of the coral reef that surround the island.
But Bora Bora was also the U.S. Navy’s supply base during the Pacific War. Today’s airport is the one built by the Americans in 1943, and on the higher parts of the island there are still cannons placed in strategic positions in relation to the entry passage through the reef and the military centres. In reality they did not fire a shot because Bora Bora was never attacked, and after the Battle of Midway, Japan had to give up its conquest plans. But it leaves an impression when you visit the cannon locations offering an elevated view that overlooks the entire lagoon. You think about the physical effort that the young soldiers had to exert in order to quickly set up these defences. How could one not get into trouble in a time like that? It makes me think. What would our world have been without the sacrifice of so many boys – because for the most part they were just boys of around 22 years of age. And those that died in that war were from all parts, of both sides. They had no choice in the matter, and they definitely found themselves up to their necks in trouble.
I think that life is the most precious gift that has been given to us, and we must honour it by trying to live it fully. If we have to run, we will run. If we have to shout to the heavens, we will shout. And if we are to love, then we will love even more.