You go spearfishing with the gendarme two days before you complete entry formalities...with the same gendarme.
Drivers on the single road around the coast screech to a halt the moment you stick out your thumb. If you even look at a driver quizzically, they are likely to stop a hundred meters down the road and turn around to find out if you need anything. If you aren't at all sure where you are going, they offer to drive until you recognize your destination.
Everyone wears elaborate flower necklaces. The first day that you see everyone wearing flowers, you ask someone if a special event of some sort is going on. They answer "no", explain that the flowers are an everyday thing, and then take the flowers from around their neck and put them on you.
Futuna, in other words, is unique in all the world.
At first, given the reputation of this place for being innocent of the yachtie crowds, we were a bit surprised to find ourselves sharing little Sigave Harbor with three other yachts. But even that was a pleasant experience, as with "only" four yachts here people didn't segregate into national groups the way they tend to in the more popular ports.
As always, we've spent a big chunk of our five days here taking care of the boat and shepherding the boys through the minute-to-minute of their routine, so our time for Getting Down With the People has been limited. But the experiences we have had have been uniformly great. This is a place where Polynesian generosity has not been overwhelmed by a deluge of visitors from the outside world.
And now, Futuna is being added to the list of wonderful places where we haven't had enough time. We have our outward clearance from Customs, and it lists Bundaberg, Australia as our next port.