The Village

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 20 Feb 2011 05:03
At anchor Baie Du Controleur, Nika Hiva
Wind: Light, variable
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm

After a relaxing morning mostly reading I motivated myself to put the dinghy in the water and to go ashore for a walk. It is a fair row to shore as the bay shoals gradually, we are anchored in 3.5 meters of water at low tide and I would not like to be in anything shallower.

The walk was a lot more interesting then I expected. Despite my cruising guides advice that there are only a few houses here there is actually quite a thriving village. The bay marks the outlet for a small but lively river which flows through a long and narrow valley, made lush and fertile with its clear rapid waters. The village discreetly lines the sides of the river, not at all obvious from the sea. On the west bank lies predominantly gardens in which all manner of things are being grown, presumably for market. I am no botanist nor farmer so exactly what was what is beyond my expertise, of course coconuts and bananas, plus breadfruit, the rest I will leave to your imaginations and supply a photo or two when I get access to the internet. On the east bank of the river lies most of the population living in modest houses, mostly with tin roofs and fibro walls, but some had thatched walls, large open windows and patios providing for a cool flow of air. The church was one of the more tasteful edifices I have seen along these lines, open sided with a high apex roof, again allowing the free flow of air, the decoration was minimal, the pulpit a nice wood carving sympathetic to a Polynesian style. I wonder what denomination it is, I doubt Catholic, I will perhaps try to find out tomorrow.

In the middle of the village was the soccer field. That is something I have noticed here in the Marqueses that every village has a soccer field, and normally a dominant feature. Children were playing, separated into boys and girls, supervised by adults. Adults were playing a form of bowls with heavy steel spheres on a dirt 'greens'. I stopped and joined the small group of spectators for a while. From speakers mounted on the eaves of a nearby club room catchy western pop music blared. Most everyone seemed content and happy,with a notable exception of a young man sitting in the back of pick up, sad and surly looking listening to his cell phone. For my part the sound of children playing is always a good pick me up. I felt a strong community spirit, but then again appearances can be deceptive.

I continued on my walk, found a shop, bought three beers and a baguette, and made my way back to the beach along the eastern side of the river. As I got closer to the beach it occurred to me that I might not be able to get across it and back to my dinghy which indeed turned out to be the case. I spoke briefly with a large friendly native who spoke a little English. He confirmed that as it was high tide I would have to wade across up to my chest to cross it. I commented on the beauty of the valley and he responded with a smile and, not at all self-consciously, “Yes, I know.” I figure as long as the river flows here there will be a community around it.

I made my way back to the nearest bridge, a welcome bit of extra exercise, then back to the dinghy, Sylph, dinner and my cold beers.

All is well.