Escaping from the harsh realities of life has been heavy on my mind since I was a teenager. I would imagine myself on an island in the middle of the ocean with complete peace and tranquility away from the negativity of modern humanity. When I learned that The Godfather himself Marlon Brando once owned an isle in Tahiti, that archipelago nation became a fixture in my fantasy. But like many dreams, I never thought I’d see Tahiti until one day I did.
It was the night of the 2016 presidential election that a small group of us organized by hair care company Be Kekoa and Aonui Adventures headed out of Los Angeles International Airport for Huahine, Tahiti. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. As we were waiting for our departure, we watched on tv and on our phones the news rolling in about Donald Trump winning the election. We needed this retreat. We needed to get far, far away from the turmoil, the backlash, and America.
Once we touched down in Huahine, I felt at peace. I heard The Beatles Here Comes the Sun playing my head as we stepped off the plane to be greeted by a welcoming committee of the island’s ambassadors and traditional Polynesian dancers and musicians. I breathed a deep breath and my body sighed with relief at the sight of this place that had only existed before in my imagination. Was that real? Was I still dreaming?
The next few days were spent exploring the island of Huahine, learning about the process of making the Tamanu oil used for Be Kekoa products and getting to know the people who call French Polynesia home. We ate fresh fish, learned to make ‘Ota ikawe, snorkeled, visited the sacred eels, and went to a pearl farm. I learned of the rich history of this island and began to take pride in it as if it were my own.
Tahiti is the first foreign land I’ve visited that I didn’t feel like an outsider. I was surrounded by brown faces and folks who looked like my long lost cousins. Although I don’t speak any Tahitian or French, we were still able to talk through the universal language of humanity. We found common ground and planted seeds of love there. Once those seeds were planted, there was no turning back.
This is what Brando fell in love with. This is why he called Tahiti home. A timeless place in the middle of the Pacific is not only a dream. It is not only a fantasy. The magic that’s in Tahiti is real. I get it. I understand. When life feels confusing and loud, this is the place I escape to in my mind. One day I will return and relive this love story all over again.