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Date: 18 Mar 2010 03:53:44
Title: The Land of Men

Hello Friends                      "8:55.1S 140:05.9W"
 
[note - there are 2 blogs of todays' date - in no particular order]
 
Sorry for the slow blogs: we've been relaxing since our arrival here and since then we've been adventuring so too busy to blog, or at least too tired when we returned to the boat.
 
The Marquesas are 'Te Henua Enana", meaning ' The Land of Men'; maybe because the landscape is very mountainous and dramatic. Perhaps as the warriors came from here? Maybe a photo from the front will clarify the environment.
 
 
This is a 'Tiki', one of very many around the island and this happy looking chap is holding a traditional war club in his left hand and the head of one of his unfortunate victims in his right. Observant readers will note that the fine anatomical details are entirely usual for Marquesan sculpture, old and new.
 
When Simon and the skipper walked along the beachfront on the first day, we found that the act of walking was quite a strain - our legs had given up after a month at sea. Since then we've taken a few walks and been progressively more adventurous, so are now more or less returned to normal function.
 
Last Friday we took a walk along the east side of the bay, along a carefull prepared and spledid path which had no signs at all. Fortunately Richard (see below) had explained how to find the start. Here we are in the light brush...
 
 
As the path continued we were faced with a sheer rock face dropping down to the sea, but the path zig-zagged up to a col before the precipice and the locals has throughfully erected a small shelter to provide a comfortable rest. The cabin boys, ever adventurous, decided they had to climb right to the end of the cliff along a knife-edge of rock... their position is marked by the arrow.
 
 
You can see the steep back of the bay which is the inner edge of a caldera of which this bay is the centre. Blue Sky is about on the right hand edge of the pic.
 
After this warm-up, the weekend was dedicated to the Cabin Boys' epic climb, the subject of a separate blog.
 
On Monday, we took an island tour with Richard, a Marquesan who has been guiding for many years. We had been intending to tour with him on Friday, but he'd wrenched his ankle playing sports and was unable to drive - hence the advice for the walk above.
 
We spent the day seeing amazing landscapes on crazy roads, having an excellent lunch and inspecting ancient meeting sites, with many stone carved tikis and other artifacts.
 
Here's a few pics to give the feel of the day...
 
The view from footpath at the col into Baie d'Anaho in the NE of the island (no roads here)
 
 
The view from the beach at Baie d'Hatiheu just in front of the restaurant where we ate an excellent lunch...
 
 
and the tree which is at the centre of an area of meeting place and which was originally hung with countless skulls of the victims of the Marquesans before missionaries took offence at the skulls and the cannibalism. This thing might have been the inspiration for the 'home tree' in Avatar for those who've been to the movies lately.
 
 
This is one of the 'walking trees' which are raised up on high roots and effectively migrate over time. Alex gives scale to the view.
 
There is a festival of the Marquesas every 4 years or so (next in December 2011) where Polynesian peoples meet for a traditional gathering. This view is another meeting site which was restored for the last meeting. Again the carvings are detailed.
 
 
Anyway, we have partying to do tonight, for reasons which will be revealed in next week's blog, so the skipper must join the fun.
 
Just as a teaser for the next blog, yesterday we visited a place at the SW corner of the island yesterday which was once of the most spectacular areas we've ever seen, home to the world's 3rd highest waterfall and some of the nicest people you could wish to meet, all in a garden of Eden setting. Until the next blog then...
 
Best Wishes
 
George, Michael, Alex and Simon
 
 
 

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