Marquesas/ Hiva Oa/diary
Just as we,d got the hang of 'muchos gracias', its back to 'merci beaucoup'. We are now in French Polynesia were the locals live on Pamplemouse, Bananas, Coconuts and Mangoes and drive around in shining 4x4 Toyotas on immaculate concrete roads!(thanks to the French Government)
The anchorage is beautiful and very busy, as most yachts crossing the Pacific make this town their first landfall.
Mary-Jo and her station wagon are ready to take our laundry, drive us the 2kms up hill to the town centre and then take us on a tour of the island, worth every Polynesian French franc. 7 of us clamber into the wagon and prepare for the roller coaster ride enjoying spectacular scenery all the way to Puamau, home of the Lipona Tiki site, on multiple levels with a grouping of 5 large Tiki's (stone figures) on the highest platform.
Back in the town centre there are about 5 grocery stores were you can buy just about every essential you can think of plus a few luxuries like fresh baguettes, croissants and Brie. . . yum. Gauguin and Brel lived and died here and there's a very good museum dedicated to their work which we visited.
All yachts arriving are covered in algae and barnacles which take several hours of hard labour to remove. . before they start to grow back again.
5 days later we are ready to sail the 45 miles to Fatu Hiva, the remotest Island in the Marquesas. The anchorage is stunning. Steep cliffs rise vertically out of the water on both sides of the anchorage. Enormous rocks, like giant gods, look over the tiny settlement below. The scent of flowers is overwhelming and the sunlight dances from one rock face to another as the clouds roll by overhead. . which all makes for a photographers dream. . . The only way to reach this small island is by boat, this is the only place we have been to so far where there are only the locals and the yachties. There is no restaurant, bar or gift shop, just one tiny store.
Ali and I go ashore and have great fun trading rope, clothes and toiletries for bags full of fruit, necklaces and locally made Tapas (which are like tattoos applied to very thin tree bark,) with the locals. We even bring Madeline, who has lived on Fatu Hiva all her life, back to the boat for 'tea' and a pair spectacles , which she is thrilled with!
It takes about 1hr to hike to the spectacular waterfall with Ali and Richard, to have a swim in the fresh water pool. . bliss!
The next day Bob and I hike to the highest picnic table on the island. The return trip took 7 hours and I can hardly move by the time we get back to the boat, but it was worth every step, the scenery was 'out of this world'.
Despite reading random warnings of sharks we enjoy some great snorkeling round the bay. The water is clear and there are lots of 'different' fish to identify!
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