Ua Huka Week 2 - Banana Split

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Sun 5 Feb 2012 06:18
Banana Split come to Ua Huka
So, on Sunday the 15th of January, a week after we had arrived, a jaunty yellow catamaran sailed into Hane Bay and disturbed our peace - and what a wonderful disturbance it was.  Our gently gently approach lasted about 24 hrs and by Monday night they were on board for drinks and we then arranging the days ahead.  Not only are the children, 'Hector et Clemence', fantastic, the grown ups, 'Marie-Lawie et Arnaud', have a very similar approach to life and child care as us.
A big walk from Hokatu to Hana
Hector, just days away from being 6 years old, and Cosmo quickly got to grips with one another both immediatly armed with bits of wood and firing them off at everyone.   Clemense aged 8.5 and Zinnia joined hands and "La La La'd" they're way slowly behind us all.
 Baie de Hane
Typical Marquesian fruit bowl 
First stop natural salt water crystal clear pools with an array of wonderful colourful fish, octopus, sea urchins and cowries.  This was followed by a delicious lunch of fresh fish, wild goat, fei (cooking bananas) and mango.  Our host, Maurice, seems to be the source of all knowledge Marquesan and sets us off on an adventure to find hidden petroglyphs and tiki's with a very precious handdrawn map.
 Cosmo upside down in a hole lookiing for shells.   Maurice's  map
Armed with water and an enormous basket of mangoes for sustainance, we set off over the mountains .  It's an easy walk but the the search for the illusive stone carvings, it's like playing hide and seek in the jungle. My favourite being a set of wonderful faces carved in to a stone that looks like it could easily be submerged in a stream when the rain comes.  The kids find the holes carved in the stone used for ancient tatoo dyes - fascinating.  And then on to the first attack on the mango scrump.
   Pots for mixing tattoo ink  Hector sharpening machette
Kids sitting on ancient petroglyph family  
Flowers and pommegranites  
The walk takes us over the hills with dramatic views over the bays.  After a good days romp we make it back to Hane's tikis.  Further down the hill we meet up with Terry the master sculptor and person in charge of the village museum and a wonderful mine of traditional boat building knowledge.  The children are invited the following day at 10am to a carving lesson.
Carving with Terry
Having a wood carving lesson with Terry is like being taught to draw by Picaso.  Contrary to our expectation all of the children are mezmerized by there teacher there was silent concentraition for the entire 2 hours,  Cosmo mostly with his tongue out true evidence that he's using all his brain power.   After a quick attempt of stilt walk on some of Terry's carved stilts it's time to leave him in peace, but the children are super delighted to now be the proud owners of beautiful pencil holders.   
A lesson in nose-flutes  
So often the workshops are full of hidden, and often unfinished, treasures.  This tiki for example  
We head to a secret anchorage - that is not marked on the charts, and is in an area of 'unsurveyed' coastline.  Its marvellous and a fabulous place for Hector to enjoy his birthday.  Whilst we prepare food the children are left to fend for themselves so they canoe ashore and then run riot over the cliffs in caves and on the surf and sand.  
 Friends -  and ....   Another hand drawn chart to find the hidden cave.
Before we left Hana we where handed a sack full of meat and on closer inspection we realise the rib bones where rather too be a large billy and given it was from our friends the horse rustlers we suspect that it will be the first taste of horse.  Ironically it will be the De Belinay's first experience too, proving not all French eat horse.  Luckily Z and the children don't put 2 and 2 together.  Zinnia really wouldn't be able to cope with the fact she's just eaten 'International Velvet'  and it is perhaps one of the stranger foods a child would expect to be eating at his birthday party.....  But for the record what frogs legs are too chicken horse is to beef.  Just as well really as we now had a freezer full,  after word got out that the English boat eats horse we were offered rather a large amount by a very nice wood carver we'd met, and given it's rude to refuse anything offered we packed it in the freezer.
So the beach in Hatuana Hector found an amazing group of petroglyphs and we ambled around on the top of a cliff for half an hour before finding the rather stunning caves with light shining through under the ocean to light up the water like neon. 
But the best thing about this bay is it's remote and the beach seems to have missed the attentions of the dreaded 'NO-NO'. 
  A walk up behind the beach ensemble
Having rested up some, and having walked the valley it was time to be up early the next day to make an attempt at high tide to climb the plateau to bird island just about 1km away.  I thought the plan some what ridiculous and so did Marie-Lawie but for the four kids and dads the idea of rock climbing and then running around a massive tern nesting ground collecting fish flavoured eggs was all too extradinary to be missed.  On route just after dawn we found our boats floating through a pod of about 200 frollicking spinner Doulphins, they are definitley the most playful of all the varieties of dolphins we've seen to date.
 Happy couple and unhappy eggs 
Then on to the climb. With two deliveries of kids to the small ledge done, Arnaud and Colin jury rig the bosons chair up at the top of the cliff face and then teach the children in a rather adhoc way to climb and then absail down.  Marie-lawie decided that living through a Hitchcock scene from 'The Birds' was probably worth a miss.  We've now learnt how the locals collect eggs having had a rather disasterous cracking of half matured fetus, but not all is lost at least the children where given a more indepth natural history lesson.  The way it is actually done, is to turn up early in the morning, scour the island for ALL the eggs there, and throw them in the sea.  Then, wait a bit, and go back in the after noon.  Lo-and-behold, all the eggs you find will be fresh.  Do this for 3 days, and then leave the island with all your eggs ready cracked into plastic bottles. We did not stay that long.  Back on the boats for a quick rounding of the islands and a double manta spot.  Then time to find some sand for our anchor.  All this before 10am
Haavei again
Its a rather mysterious place obviously rather a smart residence back in the 60's and 70's with a Swimming pool and rather groovy furniture dating back from this time,  but all is now gone to seed since Josph Lychtle, the family patriarch, died in 2005.  The valley was obviously a thriving fruit farm but now probably due to a serious lack of rain and the old boy dieing the place is rather sad and dry.  it doesn't stop us from picking up a mountain of limes, mangoes and bitter manderines,  there's enough here for a years' supply.  We do however pass on the opportunity eat the 'lapin' one cute animal a week is enough.
After two afternoons on the beach the kids and dads are starting to get decidedly tired of the No-No's and everyones backs have been eaten to bits whilst building monster sand castles.
 Some of the team wanted to go right and some left..
It's a month now and all our fresh veg have pretty much come to an end.  The only place we've seen anything green for sale has been in Vaipeei so we head to this rather dramatic ravine of an anchorage.  it's only achievable with both fore and aft anchors, and after 4 days it's almost impossible to lift the stern anchor not without a lot of tugging.on the winch.  Our friends on Banana Split are brilliant like us we don't want to live in each others pockets and we both like hanging out with local folk.  An unsaid competition  seems to have evolved and each day whilst we're here both familys comes back to the bay to share our daily scrump.  By the end of our stay we have amounted 14 different varieties of fruit.  Our personal favourite is the monster 'Haricot' that Coco finds to be a useful excuse for a moustach,  against all expectation it's the most delicious bean we've ever eaten.
Mango, grapefruit, guava, pomme cannelle, limes, green oranges, Avocado pears, breadfruit, Banana, waxapple, Starfruit, Pomegranate, star gooseberry, coconut, Water Melon, Pink grapefruit !
this count was increased by 4 by the time we reached Hiva Oa: Pinapple, Passion fruit, Kaffer Lime, Papaya
With the exception of the pineapples all of these fruits where given to us and it's never just one it's always a sack. 
On arrival at Vaipee there's one other boat, it looks like whoever was on it has left in a decided hurry, sails not backed away, gib sheet party unrolled, gas bottles on the back step but no sign of life or any vessel on the shore or boat in which to escape on. But this being a small island, nothing would have escaped the notice of some if not all the residents.  Turns out they're a couple of young hippy Americans just come in from Hawaii avoiding the authorities and having a bumper load of experiences. Having tolerated the 70mile an hour winds whilst on the trip down.  John learnt to sail three years ago and Nia who is half mexican and covered in a wonderful assortment of tattoos had never been on a boat before,  whilst she didn't complain once on the trip she did mention that she was only about 90% concerned for a large preportion of the trip.
We finally met these guys  whilst having super with Daniel (the tattooed guy with wonderful  house from earlier) and what a bizarre night that turned out to be.  Having been ready and waiting on the quay at the aloted time  we find no Daniel.  Having wandered up towards his house for about an hour we decided to head home and have a TV dinner.  Just about to put food on the plates when we have a tap tap tap on the stern asking us to join the lift up to Daniel and  Colette's house.  Everyone is looking dressed and ready for dinner.  Luckily the children are fed and then dispatched in front of the TV whilst the grown ups drink wine and partake in predinner smokers.  The glasses continue to be charged, and another round of smoking for those who partake.  By 11pm Colin and I are chomping at the bit, and the children are in desperate need of getting to bed, but what can you do, we're a captive audience, or perhaps, just perhaps, we're the dinner!  It seems Daniel's party piece is to sniff around you, play acting the savage warrier of yester-year from Ua Huka.  Supper finally on the table at 11.30pm. All OK with the grown ups, but come 1am when he was doing the same to Z it's could be a little concerning, if Z didn't have a brilliant sense of humour and love the whole silly business.  They are magic folk the food was totally delicious, their home imaculate and lovely lovely Colette is totally sweet and really rather normal.
Vaipee sky at night with us  - Courtesy of Jon on s/v Only Child
The following day has to be really rather late and lazy, we're treated to lunch on Banana Split.  More of the same thing, but how could you ever get bored of sashimi, salad and breadfruit chips.  OOH and what a magic treat for the children,  we went in search of a foal who was a day old and who's mother had die after giving birth.  Only just stable on her pins but already behaving like a lap dog so the children where able to pet her.  Incredible.
The Taporo supply boat blocks off the bay for a few hectic hours of copra trading   
 A bit tricky litfing the stern anchor even with two heafty blokes
Haveii again again
We had our final supper with Banana Split, and the children where able to have there day long play with one another but we're all heading in the opposite directions so, until we return to Europe, we have to bid them a fond farwell. The kids are distraught and the adults on Pacific Bliss aren't far behind them.  So with heavy hearts we all wake the following day  only to find Manta Rays cruising around our deserted bay.  For about an hour we all individually get to swim with these wonderful creatures and when I say swim it so close you have to be terribly careful not to run into them.  If Cosmo had got any closer I suspect he might have been sucked in to that huge gaping mouth in mistake for pankton.
  Used cooking oil drum-tree
We've promised to go for pizza at the snack van on Saturday night,  Frank and Stephanie our friends who run it tell us they're the best pizza's on the island,  this is a huge understatement they're about the best pizza's we've ever eaten, plus we get a massive bag of assorted coloured peppers from there garden thrown in.
God we love this place it's so hard to leave it's a gem and a place that so few folk feel happy to hang out in due to the difficult landing conditions.  But for us it's been a love affair and something we're happy to repeat once Colins parents are with us.