As we were strolling up to the extended shack, with its pandanus leaf-lined roof shading the open aired bar and kitchen, the owner called out “Ia orana.” I echoed the greeting with a friendly, “Ia orana,” and began to peruse the wooden-clad menu propped up on the counter of the bar. Dishes clattered in the back of the kitchen as the cook prepared plates for island patrons waiting to enjoy lunch. Near the beached shoreline, families and friends seated in plastic patio chairs chattered as they soaked up another sunny day on the French Polynesian island of Moorea.
A beautifully sensual young woman, dressed in a bright blue and white flowered wrap, sweetly muttered some phrases in French and my partner, a former professor of French, quickly responded and smiled warmly. She led us to a plastic patio table set in the warm sand and retreated to find a couple of bottled Hinano’s, the local beer brewed and bottled on the nearby island of Tahiti. The sounds of the soothing ocean waves kissing the shoreline and the waving palm fronds created a peaceful, relaxing feeling. A large boom box, propped up on a make-shift stage, played the soothing sounds of pop Tahitian music.
I was again contemplating the five senses and how close the use of social media would be able to recreate this moment with all its exotic sounds. Another tune began to play on what I believe was a mix-tape cassette and, even though I did not know enough of the Tahitian language to understand the words, I immediately knew the tune – “…sha la la la… whoa-u-o-whoa.” A song, originally recorded by the Carpenters in the 1970’s, “Yesterday Once More,” came through the small speakers sung in the Tahitian language accompanied by the sweet island sounds of the ukulele. We clicked our Hinano bottles as a celebration of this wonderful mix of cultures. These sounds brought back memories – both of younger days listening to the music of the Carpenters and of past visits to the incredibly beautiful island of Moorea, my favorite.
Although I knew I could record the sounds from any of these moments using my smart telephone, I knew I would not be able to recreate the totality of this moment. I can search online for the music I was hearing, download the tune into my music playlist, and even share it with my friends back home, but this combination of sounds, along with the sounds of the island breezes, would be illusive. Even though I know I can not recreate the moment, I am going to search for this new-heard version of the Carpenters song, recorded in Tahitian, and, when the song comes up on my music playlist – this somewhat strange conflux of musical cultures – I will be reminded of this moment. Social media will not allow me to recreate the moment, but it can certainly contribute to the warm memories of life’s experiences. Every sha la la la, every whoa-u-o-whoa… it’s yesterday once more.