Fw: Hiva Oa to Tahuata 09:54S 139:06w
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Mon 4 May 2015 17:04
Problems with comms hopefully this gets sent.
Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2015 6:16 AM
Subject: Hiva Oa to Tahuata 09:54S 139:06w
Dear Family and Friends,
2nd May 2015
Pinch me, I think I am dreaming! We just love the Marquesas and despite knowing we have done the miles to get here, it seems amazing to be here.
The town of Atuona, Hiva Oa, has most immediate needs, if you are prepared to search around among the shops for them. You might well find car tyres next to tomatoes! There is a mix of French and international food imports and the local Polynesians seem to have had no difficulty grafting French cheese, cured meats and baguettes into their diet. Although vegetables as we might expect them are in short supply. So next time you are in the supermarket with all that choice, just treasure it a little, nowhere not even in many places in Europe (with the exception of very large stores in say Porto and Lisbon), do you find such variety.
The Polynesians are friendly and helpful. Custom used to require the men to have tattoos as they approached manhood. These are really beautiful patterns and although not a fan of tattoos myself, somehow they look just right here. Women were not required to have them but today many do, so amongst the towns essential services is the car rental cum tattoo shop.
The women also occasionally wear the floral wreaths on their head, and since the flowers are beautiful here it is often a work of art. These seem to be worn for special occasions, so today there is a big wedding for 900 guests and there were many floral head dresses to be seen. I am intrigued by the wedding though, according to a local driver, John, the ceremony was at 9am in the local Catholic church followed by a wedding feast at a restaurant. Apparently anyone can choose to come to the meal for which the newly weds will pay and following tradition each guest gives the couple something. The same 4 door cab style trucks with a pick up back as seen in the Galapagos are here in force too, and today they are decorated with white bows and balloons with much hooting! The down side is that with so many people attending the wedding today, most of the shops were either closed and attending the wedding or closing early for the same. Just when we really needed use of the facilities but you learn to go with the flow!
The weekly supply ship caused some nervous moments when it arrived at 3am on the high tide. As mentioned before we had to move clear of a transit line so the vessel could turn. We were awoken by the clanking of chain, to find the surprisingly large vessel across us and other boats and very very close. Hats off to the Captain for manoeuvring that in place. The following morning the docks were full of pickups collecting their orders and the ships cranes lifting road stone and other commodities on board. And no sooner had the supply ship left in the late afternoon than the French navy turned up, complete with a 6 man customs team that visited many of the boats at anchor, but not us.
We shared a tour truck with an Anglo American couple, Phil and Nell and Australian/American couple, Judy and Sherman. We were taken over the high ridges where the air cooled in the cloud forests to the North side of the island and then wound our way over dirt tracks for hours, admiring the many panoramic view points along the way. The single track wound a switch back trail tracing the fingers of land, cut into the steep slopes with interesting drops, past ranches with horses, fruit plantations (in a loose sense!), rich forests, rocky shores, crashing surf and coconut palm lined white sandy coves. Lovely houses are glimpsed through the trees, chickens wandering freely and the goats penned, tethered or free, bleating at our approach.
During our tour we visited 2 sacred Tiki sites, the smiling Tiki and the chief Tiki. The first was down a woodland trail, completely hidden from view. The smiling female Tiki (as shown by her lips and hands) was worshipped by the fishermen and stood beside a stream that lead to the shore, now all but obliterated in dense woods. A little up the trail was a platform made of boulders where the dead were laid to become decompose, tended daily by relatives until the bones were stripped clean. The head was then buried beneath a banyan tree where the roots enveloped it and it was taken back into the earth, with the other bones taken to special sites. The chief Tiki site was set high in a hillside on the eastern most finger of land, ending in Pointe Mata Fenua, a beautiful place with an air of serenity. See the photo blog coming later as these are more eloquent than I.
The downside of a wonderful tour was that we were covered in red brown dust from riding the open backed truck. Showering later, there was a muddy puddle beneath our feet!
Yesterday I went off for a walk around the headland, wonderful scenes of lava boulders, red brown lava pavements, sucking seething, smashing waves breaking against the shore, water, antique green glass coloured and topped with constant white spume. Thunderous ‘whumps’ accompanied the sea drama as the force of the water hit the lava cul de sacs, the air carrying the vibrations to you and sending white foam 15’ in the air. Such a spectacle, you could watch it for hours. But then there were the weird fish that live on the rocks. At first I thought they had been washed onto the rocks but no they cling to the rocks, seemingly feeding or breathing with their gills as the water drains off the rocks. They move by swinging their tail forcefully and hopping across the rock surface, is this fish evolving into land animals or vice versa? So odd!
Today we have moved to Tahuata, the island to the south of Hiva Oa. We sailed in strong winds, between the islands and have anchored in a tiny bay on the NW coast. A picture postcard bay with the mountains rising behind and another coconut palm lined cove, just one problem, we seem to be in the downdraught of the prevailing winds as the descend over the mountains and we have strong 25-30 kts gusts of wind instead of being in the lee of the island. Where do they take all the photos for the cruising guides, with flat calm seas, we haven’t seen any!
John, our tour guide, provided a lovely meal by a cove, of braised lamb tasting meet (goat I think) and rice accompanied by small bananas, delicious.