Early morning, we left with Stevens onboard bound for the clinic or the dispensaire, his tooth ache is not getting better an infection has started to develop and before the cruiser dentist arrives; he needs to be put on antibiotic to enable a proper extraction. We waited the week-end in his bay and were submitted to two of the rolliest day of our experience due to a strong swell, so much so that Stevens had water coming to his plantations and destroying some of his new plants much to his despair…
In Vaitahu there is no airport, no port we are getting deeper into the Marquises and it shows with all the lovely and genuine smiles we are getting throughout the village. The island counts 700 inhabitants and Vaitahu is the “capital”, as you can see there is no need to express in words how grandiose the bay is, the two panoramic pictures talk for themselves.
Now try to envision the scene: a pack of six cruisers in search for internet roaming through the village, we are all easy to spot we all carry backpacks; the legit location “the store” is out of connection. No big deal we get the code for the school in less time, we needed to get 20 limes and 2 mangoes. We were asked to not divulge where we got it from, but to gain access we needed to be on the school ground and that’s where we met Felix the principal/mayor who welcomed us with open arms. Of course please use our internet anything else we can help you with, a typical Marquesan welcome.
One major problem is the language, for a dyslexic like me. An idiom based only on very similar sounding vowels is a nightmare. Even the names of the place sound all the same, let’s not talk of trying to make sense of the words. I feel Chinese would be easier to learn. Fortunately we never forgot our French, there is no doubt it helps to connect with everyone and learn more about their own culture, and truly they don’t speak much English just enough to get by with the tourists from the cargo.
School is on lunch break, the “cantine” is out of service for the moment and we are enjoying quiet internet,
that is until the children comeback from lunch and then we start sharing some pictures, none of them are shy and they easily ask questions
all is done very naturally which is virtually full of charm.
Coconut or “copra” drying in the “sechoir”
Getting ready for the next boat/cargo coming soon,
140 Francs Pacifiques per kilo sold to the Huilerie and heavily subsidized by the local governement the normal world trade is at 20 Franc a kilo.
Bay of Vaitahu just before meeting Jean Edouard and coming back with more fruits and vegetables we could carry.
And finally a beautiful sunset!
Voila! You just spent the day with us in pictures.
Sometimes life takes you places unexpectedly and you wonder what path leads you here, this is the classic example of what we are living at the moment. We anchored in the bay where Steven has taken refuge on his family ancestral land. He is currently trying to recreate his vision of childhood paradise, which includes respect and living in harmony with Mother Nature, while coming back to a simpler and humble way of life away from society. It seems that Tahiti’s bright light may burn you more than you ever dreamt of.
For us we hadn’t plan on stopping here, but heard that a young man had started the process of rehabilitating a long lost valley; twenty years of neglect is leaving him a lot of work, after 8 months (January 2015) of ups and downs he is now able to live from the land and with the visit of cruisers and friends it keeps his hope alive. We can’t tell you much more as the situation is evaluating very quickly, the experiment is a very steep learning curve and a challenge to any man determination. We wish him success and hope that the seeds he planted grow fast on all aspect.
But please don’t come here if you are not ready to invest time to get to know him, he speaks good English and is very educated. Do not go on his land without his permission, pickup his fruits even in his presence, this brings out a man you do not wish to meet. On the other hand if you are ready to share your story and listen to his, you will have a humbling experience, learn a lot and enjoy true Marquesan hospitality, as we just did. Sorry, no details as we do not wish to raise hope and create any expectation to future visitors.
Steven thank you from the three of us for sharing your passion, you will be in our hearts forever.
It will be very hard to come back to lait de coco can after this.
Tonight we will celebrate three weeks in the Marquise already, time flies indeed and truthfully we barely scratched the surface of understanding the culture of the island. Yesterday, we rode the dirt tracks of Hiva Oa and discovered some beautiful sites with more stones to watch while reminiscing South America. Thanks to a connection we had made while hitch hiking, we were able to rent a 4X4 at a reasonable cost. For those interested, the contact is Florence at Kanuana Location 89 53 06 78 or 40 92 77 17 for a Dacia (Renault) 4X4 FP 8000, know that the regular price practiced with other renters ranges from 13-16 K FP (it is normally for three days or more, so it may not be available in high season) 24 hours seat 5 people in comfort, used 14 liter of fuel in the day. As for us we were lucky to share the ride for the day with Helene and William (whom we had met in Panama), veterans of the area and expert biologists of tropical plants.
Quick word of advice, make sure to prepare a picnic and try to get a map from town as it will help you, not that you can’t get lost for too long… Also, if it has rained heavily for days the road maybe difficult to drive, in normal condition with a bit of attention not a problem.
Out of the anchorage take the road to the airport, 15 minutes later (walking 1.5 hour up hill) you can see a small sign on a tree indicating direction for the Smiley Tiki.
We were surprised to find an alpine setting completed with pine trees and various other micro climates on our drive.
Bay of Puamau with the Aranui anchored.
The site of Me’ae Te I’I pona renowned for its fine Tikis along with the one Tiki Allonge.
The louging tiki.
At the round about after the airport right is Puamau left is the bay of Hanaiapa.
The ceremonial site of Ta’a’oa situated on the other side of Atuona, once in the other valley follow the sign Eukepe (or something similar).
Back in town we witnessed the modern way of entertainment for a lazy Sunday.
To the right in the shade of the hall the ladies playing Bingo for money. To the left the gentlemen playing petanque, in a way nearly as serious as in the South of France.
Taahuku bay from the top of town.
Still, we never forget that we live on our boat and once in a while we need some combustible. Here we are transferring some butane (French Propane) into our US tank; finally our investment from Puerto Vallarta is paying off (one male NA gaz tank fitting without the decompressor). Of course all legal requirement where met for health and safety. I am wearing a glove and not smoking while doing it, we are in the clear.
Rather easy and quick thanks to a great video made by our friend Livia and Carol on S/V Estrellita.
Yes Yes yes ….. we know no news is good news; but we shouldn’t abuse of this statement. Nonetheless here is the last scoop, we have been stuck in a bay at the foot of a valley with nothing, even our trusted Ham Radio isn’t able to catch the wave in the last little while, and don’t even talk internet in a place where there is no electricity.
Nevertheless we have a number of posts ready for you with photos but for this we will need to move to the village; and we are not quite ready for it yet… So what has happened to us? A great human encounter, a learning experience like no other and a piece of paradise we are happy to absorb ourselves into. Did we plan it no, did we expect it even less, this is why we are so lucky to travel this way. Hopefully within these words our joy and happiness of being here transpires well; we are feeling very grateful.
We can spot a good coconut in any stage of its life from far away. We can process it amateurishly but with pride, and we now know how to make coconut milk.
Valerie is touching up the genoa to ensure longevity and has been working on sewing projects/repair, Benjamin just fell sick in bed with a little bit of temperature (Chicoungounia), I will make water today and may be eat an other of those fabulous sea urchin with a little touch of lime just out of the water, we are staying at anchor with friends nearby, life is good. Nothing out of the ordinary, just life.
We have another post with photos coming your way later, about our week-end trip around the island of Hiva Oa, but that can only happen once we have a real connection. We just wanted to let you know that the new week got us out of our twenty one day stupor and routine. Sunday was full of activities, spring cleaning, laundry and readiness for sea; in other words Letitgo is in tip top shape as is her crew, we will come back to Atuona in a month or so, but we need to see more of the Southern Marquesas.
On exiting the bay we crossed path with S/V Anna whom we were expecting, for the Ecuador veterans who read this page, they just spent 40 days at sea, lost their wind wane and a few more problems that they didn’t want to share over the radio. But overall they were in good spirits and happy to sea land and speak to somebody else.
As for us we enjoyed our ride in the Canal du Bordelais, we left early to avoid any bad surprises with the wind and can confirm that the venturi effect increases the wind two folds, for us from 6 to 12 knots. We were recommended to travel westward through this channel, we now know why. The other way the wind and current is against you, plus adds a compression of the water mass from 10.000 feet to 190 feet in 5 miles, we let you imagine the wave created if you get 30 knots in there.
We are now anchored in Ivaiva on Tahuata, there is a white sandy beach ahead of us with coconut trees and the water is crystal clear; a little piece of paradise. The scenery around us is simply breathtaking, Benjamin left ahead of us on his kayak for a first look on the island. Apparently Steven lives here, we have a fresh baguette for him after lunch we will come to deliver it.
Firstly and most importantly there have been no more baguettes at the baker for the last two days. You read well, no more bread for the last little while; even the boarding school had to use crackers for breakfast this morning now you can feel our dismay. Fortunately for everyone the cargo everyone had so longed for has arrived around noon today, l’Aranui. Martin the baker should get his shipment of flour by 1:00pm and we will have baguettes on the shelves by this afternoon. And that was one of the reason we couldn’t leave yet, plus there are no more “brie” cheese either nor fresh carrots. How could we survive in the next few weeks without some of those staples?
Aranui 3 coming into port, truly after what we saw in Panama it was not a bigdeal, though we can understand how important it is here.
Now onto our second emergency, if you remember well we had two blades of the impeller that had disappeared on our last little sail. They don’t go far, but after removing with success the head of the heat exchanger and retrieving them. At rebuild time we had a leak, a little tighter the screw went, which led to break off sand plitting the O-Ring. A few swear words later and with the invaluable help of Valerie the alternator/heat exchanger came out and in again. We were lucky having the perfect spare onboard and a little bit of metal of the screw hanging out enabling its easy removal.
Outing for the island, better be ready to pickup your package the operation is quickly done,
Now where is that flour?
People have been waiting since early morning in order to ensure a spot to get their copra (dried coconut) production on the boat.
Can you spot Letitgo?
We should not loose our good habit of riding anything on wheels, it’s a good thing we are starting to know people around.
But again with a vista like this, where is the incentive to leave.
PS: Coming back from town, I was picked up by one of the car rental owner, so we may stay a little longer now that we found an economic option to do a tour of the island… Oh well
After resting for two weeks and absorbing our new environment, plans were made three days ago to celebrate with Edith and Jacques our recent milestone. Truly a good bottle of Champagne is wasted when you arrive in port; our taste buds are tired as is your mind. Sunday afternoon is always a quiet day all around the island, so with no further due we assembled on Letitgo and started cooking a tapas feast. But first we helped another friend remove an injured shroud from his mast; sheer wind force had opened the U piece 90 degrees, a rather humbling sight.
Still from midafternoon, with a sun less vigorous, we were able to open a champagne bottle along with some wine, can of foie gras; we had some smoked salmon, magret with a delicious bistro style Mac & Cheese as per Benjamin’s request and finally we made our Marquesan fusion cuisine with the bread fruit Sarladaise. Valerie had prepared our famous chocolate mousse, Edith her decadent cookies in other words we all regaled ourselves. By 23.00 the atmosphere was content, we had celebrated in style 2015 and now ready to start our French Polynesian exploration!
Benjamin even took the decision to create a flower center piece!
observe the mandatory banana stack onboard.
Table is set, we can start celebrating starting first with sabering a bottle of course, tradition on Letitgo.
Life is really hard around here, you can see the strain on everybody face.
No I don’t miss it but always a pleasure to cook a little.
What a privilege to be invited to a BBQ in paradise. Yvette et Philippe asked us to join them at their house. The weather was picture perfect, the color magic to top it all up their home is overviewing the anchorage with a wonderful view over the bay and the ocean, truly it was a treat to be able to try all the local’s specialities. From the soft shell crabs to some grilled fish with a magic version of a Chinese sauce, a roasted breadfruit to a banana tart, everything was delicious and incorporated a local twist at every turn. We were treated like true royalties, not allowed to lift a finger or even do the dishes, truly hospitality is part of the culture. There is no doubt that the language is a major bonus to dive in and discover a new way of life, learn about their habits and culture it is always an enlightening moment for all of us and the essence of our voyage.
As you can see from the last few posts we have been able to catch some fairly decent internet, enabling us to view our emails rapidly and updating our tablets. But don’t get used to it as it’s an expedition to get connected and at $3.75 a can of coke, well you get the picture.
We nearly forgot to mention the banana tart, true feat to the taste buds, authentic marquesian, in two words a wonderful dessert… Sorry you have to come here to try it!
This is what we wake up for every morning…
Orchids growing out of a coconut outershell
Philippe scoring the breadfruit and peeling it once cooked.
The texture is a mix of chestnut and potatoes, a very enjoyable discovery.
Benjamin gets a firsthand teaching on the whole process.
Over the week-end we decided that a bit of exercise would be a good thing. And for that we had ahead of us an easy trek to the cemetery, we wanted to pay a visit to the two most famous tombs, we were not disappointed the view up top is stunning. One fact about the Marquises, on Sunday they really do nothing. Church for some and then family time at home, no picnic no beach time no shopping, there is not a soul to see around.
Pour mon pere
We invited over for a lunch and a swim our new friends whom have been spoiling us with treats,
A wonderful day was to be enjoyed by all and relaxing while exchanging stories and laugh.
Just for the scale is my fist, sorry we can reproduce the sweetness, actually grab a spoon of sugar in a glass of water and you have it.
Here are a few photos of our recent little sail and arrival in the Marquesas.
Water water 360, so the selfie is mandatory.
Life goes on, birthday brownies
Benjamin with some shaggyness
They do exist by the million, trust us.
Morning bouquet for my sweetheart. Squid for the first half, flying fish for the second.
First sight of land.
View from our veranda.
Life arriving into port, the pier was in ebulition.
And look what we found!
45 minutes at the post office, Dear sister you will not be alone in Tahiti
Paradise at last, to our senses at least.
Baie Tahauku, hiva oa island. Letitgo right in front of you.
Benjamin spot for yoga.