On one of our very first dates, Rob told me, “My dream is to have a house with a mango tree in the yard.” I replied that mangoes are my favorite fruit. There are no mangoes in Montana. So, we got married, quit our jobs, sold our stuff, packed a couple of bags and set off in search of these oval pods of gooey goodness. Thus began our mission for mangoes.
Sure, we also had designs on sailing, diving, exploring new horizons and absorbing new cultures. But let’s be clear — eating mangoes is at the top of our priority list. A perfect mango is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A combination of tart and sweet, firm but juicy, yellow-orange slippery joy wrapped in a smooth skin. It’s enough to fuel any expedition toward paradise.
So far, so good. After a mere 33-day sailing passage across the Pacific, we were rewarded with paradise in the Marquesas. Fruit literally dropped into our lap on these lush green isles: we tripped over coconuts, limes, papaya, grapefruit, passion fruit, bananas, oranges. And the mangoes. Oh, lordy, the mangoes. Bursting at the seams, dripping off branches, loaded tree limbs proffering dozens of species. Let the mission begin!
We walked through the community of Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, asking locals standing near the bursting trees if we could buy fruit. They laughed at us. Instead, the Marquesans filled our arms with free ripe orbs of all shapes. Grapefruit the size of small children. Buckets of limes. Bags and bags of mangoes. Our mission was so fruitful that Rob and I provisioned two boats and 10 people for a week. Plus, these encounters with the locals led to fascinating conversations, new friends, and a glimpse into a different way of life.
We sailed to Anaho Bay, Kayanos’ stern buried behind stalks of green bananas and swaying hammocks of fruit. After a week at anchor, we set off again on the mission, hiking from the beach into the mountains. Rob climbed trees and we shook and plucked to our hearts’ content, filling buckets and bags for the 500-mile four-day passage to the Tuamotus. Orange juicy pulp. Yellow tart circles of flesh. Smoothies and syrups and snacks and sauces.
We glut on mangoes, and all of their tropical fruity cousins. We feast on the sun-rich sugar. We savor the abundance of nature, and appreciate the immense generosity of the people who share its gifts. We will continue our mission for mangoes as we sail west, searching for the perfect bite, the perfect story, the perfect community, the perfect tree in the perfect spot that we can call home — even if only for a brief, sweet moment.