Polynesian Palette

Traveling to so many different places has opened my eyes to the unsung world of color. Just like each city in the U.S. has a distinct vibe, each region of the world has a distinct color palette, and it seems to be somehow reflected in (or characteristic of) the way of life.

Take French Polynesia. The color palette there is vivid. It is bright and full force, yet the combination of colors is a pleasant one; not “in-your-face,” yet not understated. There is nothing soft about it. Everything about it is proud and confident.

The mountains jut into the sky without apologies, and the clouds crowd up around the tops and into the sides. For some reason they both want to take up the same space. The horizon line dips up and down and dashes back and forth, like God couldn’t decide which direction he wanted the earth to go when it got to the sky.

The warm orange-brown skin of the native people, the completely saturated golden pineapple dripping with juice that’s both sweet and sour, the crisp white broken insides of the tough coconut that seem to bite you back when you take a bite of it. The big soft petals of the brightly colored flowers, the leaves of fruits and bushes that jut out in layers of sharp triangles, one growing out of another, like scales of a grizzly prehistoric animal. The banging drums of the traditional tribal music. The intricate tattoos of black ink weaving in and out of the natives’ golden brown complexions.

It’s like the whole region tries to punch you and kiss you at the same time. The colors are bright and enticing, but there is nothing gentle about this place, except for the way the water touches your skin when you wade into the lapping waves. (That is, if you can call them waves. They’re so slight it’s barely a wake from a distant passing jet ski.) Your body doesn’t jump when the water hits you—it’s not too cold or too hot. It’s absolutely the perfect temperature.

One thing I appreciate about this whole region of the world is the level of detail on each piece of art and design. And the fact that every detail has a significance; it’s not just arbitrary decoration. That makes it even more beautiful.

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