“Voulez vous des bananes?” asked a wiry built darkly tanned man with very little clothes on, as he jumped out of the bush in front of us, on the dirt path. We stopped, and he stepped forward, offering his hand to my parents. “Je suis Etienne,” he said.
I didn’t know much French at the time, but after 30 days at sea, with no fresh fruit, a banana sounded wonderful. My parents nodded in consent, and within a few minutes, Etienne had returned, not with a banana, nor one for each of us, but with a whole bunch of bananas. We’d never seen so many in our lives, having lived the comfortable life of supermarkets in Los Angeles, where each banana was perfectly formed, and came with a Chiquita sticker on it.
This bunch, with stubby yellowing and green bananas, some ripe, some still hard, was hard to carry back to the boat, but my dad did so, inviting Etienne back to join us for a drink and snacks. My dad strung the bananas up on one of the spreaders, and as we sunk our teeth into the soft, sweet fruit, I swore to learn some French so I could thank Etienne (and get more of these fresh bananas). My parents gave him some goodies in return for the bananas, and he became our fast friend, on that first island, Nuka Hiva, that we visited in the Marquesas.
Do you have a banana story to share? Feel free to share below!