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  • Brian Maxwell

Day 18: Rapa Iti


Would you search the world for you special place, or for your special person? As we roll into day 18, that idea of paradise really starts popping into my mind again. When I'm looking for a way to escape, I like to research remote islands I've never heard of before. When I came across Rapa Iti, in French Polynesia, I found a touching story about the island and it's forgotten language. This is that story, as told by Judith Schalansky in her book "Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands."



In a small town in the foothills of the Vosges, a six-year-old boy is visited by dreams in which he is taught a completely unknown language. Little Marc Liblin soon speaks this language fluently without knowing where it comes from or whether it even really exists. He is a gifted by lonely child, with a thirst for knowledge. In his youth, he lives on books, rather than on bread. At the age of thirty-three, he is an outsider living on the fringes of society when he comes to the attention of researchers from the University of Rennes. They want to decipher and translate his language. For two years, they feed the strange sounds he makes into giant computers. In vain. Eventually, they decide to trawl through the bars by the harbour to see if any of the sailors on shore leave have ever heard the language before. In a bar in Rennes, Marc Livlin gives a solo performance, holding a monologue in front of a group of Tunisians. The barkeeper, a former navy man, interrupts and says he has heard this tongue before, on one of the most remote Polynesian islands. And he knows an elderly lady who speaks it; she is divorced from an army officer and now lives in a council estate in the suburbs. The meeting with the Polynesian woman changes Liblin's life. When Meretuini Make opens the door, Marc greets her in his language, and she answers straight away in the old Rapa of her homeland. Marc Liblin, who has never been outside of Europe, marries the only woman who understands him, and in 1983, he leaves with her for the island where his language is spoken.



Rapa Iti

1.5oz Medium-bodied White Rum (I used Marsh House)

.75oz Barrel-aged Gin (There are many producers doing an aged gin today, today I used Euphrosine from Atelier Vie)

.5oz Falernum

.5oz Mango Syrup

.5oz Lemon Juice

1oz Fresh Pineapple Juice

3 drops Ube Extract (This is a purple yam extract. There are several producers you can purchase online such as McCormick or Butterfly)

3 dashes Absinthe


Chilled Coupe

Shake and double strain.

Garnish with flower.



Shake, sip, and enjoy. Hopefully this one continues to transport you through these trying times. I know my roommate certainly didn't mind sipping on one of these first thing in the morning while I was taking photos. Have fun with your purple drink, and join me again tomorrow, where I'll be sharing another cocktail, and hopefully some peace of mind.

Keep Shaking.

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