Other days we made the other crossing, to Vaitape town, to play with the vahine and tāne bronze statues and big pretty mille franc bills, and baguettes, and vanilla, and in the pink and white church with the red spindled steeple, or the other small white one with the imposing red cross against the green mountains and dark clouds above. We rented a voiture, and drove around the island, past large local ladies, other resorts, a car splattered with colorful fiberglass ice cream scoops, a Va'a outrigger festival, and a blue scene, bluer than the flow of life in Gauguin’s D'où Venons Nous? Que Sommes Nous? Où Allons Nous? Robyn, in a blue pareu with a big blue umbrella against the two blues above the beach, hovered far beyond the blue idol of his masterpiece. The air was heavy with vanilla.
Our last night at the Lagon filled the rest of the air with noble gases, but none were inert. The full moon provided silver photons. Guitars and ukuleles and shark skin drums and torches and hips and pelvises filled the rest of our eyes and eyes with ʻōteʻa dances, the men gesturing sailing and warfare, the women enacting more natural themes, combing their hair, or becoming butterflies. Which brought Robyn and I full circle around the moon to Gauguin’s question. Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? And why were there no butterflies in paradise?
The least inert and most ignoble gas supplied the answer. It came in a fine spray from the compressor nozzle attached to the mobile tank rolling past our garden bungalow. I had thought there had been too few geckos. Luxury is a state of mind.
“Pour les insects.” Said the driver. “Pour les ravageurs.” The pests.
The problem with living in the lap of luxury is that you never know when luxury is going to stand up.
“The first day one is a guest, the second a burden, and the third a pest.”
Jean de la Bruyere