Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Nuku Hiva

We've been on Nuku Hiva for the past week. We arrived here last Friday, just in time for the Saturday morning market, where you can buy fresh veggies, fish and baking, things you can't buy during the week, but when they say morning, they really mean morning, the market runs from 4:30 am to 6:30 am and if you're not there right at the start, you likely won't get what you want. I can't believe I got up before 4 am to buy veggies!
We spent the weekend at Taiohae Bay which is home to about 1200 Marquesans, and is the largest village on the island. This is the best place to provision as there are three stores to choose from, that said, provisioning, compared to Canada and the US is limited and expensive, eggs are $7 a dozen and apples (very rare to find) are $1.50 each. It's a good thing we provisioned so well in Mexico so we really only have to buy a few things to supplement. I bought a yogourt maker so now we can enjoy that since four little yogourts cost $7.50 here.

We spent a few days in the middle of last week in Controleur Bay in the village of Taipivai, the setting for Herman Melville's book Typee (Melville wrote Moby Dick). The village was beautiful and we enjoyed a gorgeous hike to some ancient ruins followed by a refreshing swim in a small cascade in the river.

For those of you who are Survivor fans, Nuku Hiva was the site of season four of the reality TV series and one of the tribes were located in Controleur Bay and the other in Daniels Bay, where we plan to visit next, tribal council was located just outside Taiohae Bay in Colette Bay.

We're now back in Taiohae Bay for the weekend. Yesterday, after the market, we took an all day road trip with a local lady, Jocelyne, who took us to the high plains of the island where pine trees grow, the smells remind me of home

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nuku Hiva

We're now in Nuku Hiva, after visiting Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva and Ua Pou. We have found each island uniquely different and are enjoying the diversity. The Marquesan people are very kind and generous.
At Fatu Hiva, the girls and I had arranged to teaching English, but the government changed the school schedule and the day we were to start was actually the start of a two week vacation. Oh well, maybe we'll do that somewhere else, the ladies from Casteel were sure disappointed as they had planned out an entire two week curriculum. On the up side, since the kids were not in school, they were outside playing which was really fun to be around. Kids of all ages, as young as 2 were all playing in the water without fear, it's quite different from Canada, about 50% of the boys were in swim suits while the rest and all the girls were just in their underpants, I remember doing that when I was a little girl!

One of our favorite memories to date was a day of trading with the villagers on Fatu Hiva. We went into the village to trade for two Tiki's (Marquesan statues) as souvenirs for the girls and we approached a home where the door was open and looked inside but there was no one there. A lady was walking up the street and invited us to go inside and she found the lady who lived there and we sat on her floor while she displayed her husbands carvings. I guess word gets around quickly in a small village and within about 20 minutes there was a big crowd of local ladies who had all come to visit with us for the opportunity to trade for fruit, tapas (pounded bark with paintings on it) and carvings. It was very enjoyable and we ended up trading 5 tee shirts and 300 feet of nylon line for the two tikis and we traded with another lady, 2 tee shirts for 2 necklaces, and with another, a key chain and a necklace for a stock of green bananas which we will get tomorrow and the best trade of all...a lipstick and a mascara for some PIG!

Before we left Fatu Hiva, they mayor threw a big feast for all the villagers and the cruisers were all invited, this was our first taste of traditional Marquesan food. We were served roasted pig, breadfruit, plantains and something else we couldn't quite recognize, while it wasn't our favorite meal, it was certainly a fun experience.

We travelled overnight to Ua Pou and just before we arrived, we caught a great big whitefish which we shared with Maryke Violet and Hannah who came over for dinner. The kids played volleyball on the quay with the local kids which was a wonderful experience for them and very fun for us to watch. Just before we left, Gerrimae and I walked up to the store for some ice which came in a HUGE bag, probably 20 pounds or more and very awkward to carry, and as we were leaving the store I was saying that we could really use a ride and we had walked no more than about 50 feet when a lady and her two daughters stopped to offer a lift which we greatly accepted. Before she took us to the quay though, she drove us up to her house and gave us a gift of bananas and guavas, we're not talking a Canadian sized bunch of bananas here, we're talking a stock of about 60 of them! Too kind.

At another anchorage on Ua Pou we waked up to a gorgeous waterfall and had a very refreshing swim before stopping at a local Snack (small restaurant) for coffee and (what else) a snack! We had Poisson Cru, which is a combination of raw tuna, lime juice, tomato, onion, salt pepper and coconut cream, it was delicious and we can't wait to catch a yellowfin tuna so we can make some on board. Pierre and his wife were the most gracious hosts who delighted in our curiosity over the preparation of the meal and picked a breadfruit for us and showed us how to prepare it so that it tastes like french fries - we ate the entire thing - the kids, especially, enjoyed the bread fruit fries!
We're now in Nuku Hiva, our last island before heading South to the Tuamotus, a group of Atolls about three days South West of here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Our First Week in the Tropics

I can hardly wait to have internet so that I can post some photos so you can see how incredibly beautiful it is here in the Marquesas, but it's hard to find an internet connection in the jungle!

We've visited the islands of Hiva Oa, Tahuata and are now on the gorgeous island of Fatu Hiva where us girls will be teaching English in the local school along with two ladies from Seattle. It is soooo HOT! 32 degrees today as we sailed the 10 hour trip from Tahuata and right now, after dinner, it's 28 degrees in the cabin! Sleep does not come easy in this heat and the cockpit is the coveted berth.

The anchorage in Tahuata was absolutely beautiful, we could see the coral reefs and fish on the bottom where we were anchored in 35 feet of water. Jay and Jocelyn dove and I snorkeled and it's so clear and warm 82 degrees F, no need for a wetsuit. We had a group of six huge rays swimming beside the boat a couple of the mornings we were there and during our snorkeling we got to swim with them, some of them span more than six feet.

When we were not swimming and playing, we were off exploring and collecting coconuts and limes. We visited a small village not far from where we were anchored and were given about 20 mangoes, pamplemousse (huge, and very sweet grapefruit) and a huge stock of bananas. Most of the cruising boats have a stock of bananas hanging outside, the trouble is that the whole lot will ripen at the same time, so I anticipate baking lots of banana bread.

Yesterday, we visited a local church and enjoyed the incredible beauty of the building, the melodious singing and the fragrant flowers on the altar, I'm sure we would have enjoyed the message as well had we been able to understand, the service was delivered in a 50/50 split of French and Marquesan. After church we were spoiled when the Opa from Maryke Violet treated us all to a bucket of ice cream from the local store, he sat the bucket on a retaining wall outside the store and handed everyone a spoon.....YUM! At $22 for 2 litres it'll be a rare treat.