Undoubtedly you must be starving after all the deliciousness we posted on our previous log, so we will follow course in our quest for the perfect Marquesan fare. For this we will move toward the fire and discover the secret of a smooth “kaku”.
On the fire place your “mei” or bread fruit, when it is charred evenly on the outside remove from the fire pit with your large tongue.
Then with our hand protected by leaves hold the “mei” tightly to remove the outer shell.
You can probably recognize this tool, so called “penu”.
Mamau Jeanne is demonstrating the perfect hand motion. And here is her recommendation:
Make sure to keep your hands fairly wet and to fold it after each press
This will ensure a really soft and creamy dish
Now children lunch is ready!
The most beautiful canteen in the world.
One can never say no when a Marquesan scoops another ladle on your plate.
Soon it will be time for another nap under the tree…
In the afternoon the activity was a proclamation all in Marquesan, the best orator will take part to the regional contest.
Each school year, the principal has a few days at his discretion to educate outside of the official curriculum. Felix in Vaitahu chooses it wisely and exposes the 54 children to pure Marquesan traditions and cultures. Today was food of the islands, and we were fortunate to be invited to join, you didn’t have to tell us twice. We know by now that a lot of families are losing the traditional values at the table, pastas have replaced the breadfruit and rice the manioc while the frozen imported chicken replaces the free run one “le poulet local”. Time is becoming an issue and availability of worldwide food makes their life a lot simpler.
For us we got the official crash course in Marquesan cuisine, all the questions we always had answered in a very nice setting with wonderful people. It all finished with all of us sharing the food all the children had prepared. Today you will spend the day with us with photos as we take you for a tour.
Tradition day, children came dressed for the occasion. Flower crowns for the ladies, aromatic necklaces for the little men.
Natural way to protect yourself from the UV for the teacher.
First station, the omnipresent coco: Today they needed quite a bit as every dish is prepared and cooked with some coco milk extracted from it.
So: First step above removing the outside shell (husk) to gain access to what we buy in supermarket the coco itself.
Papau (grandfather) demonstrates how to break one in half with a stone.
And now lesson on how to shred the coco, with the “rape a coco” this is the ancestral and manual way of doing it, and not known to everyone. Below they are all pros as this is what most household have the electrical coco shredder.
Second station, the manioc how to prepare the root from peeling too shredding then in a marmite with some caramel and some coco milk cook in our own Marquesan oven (underground wood oven) for a few hours.
Loveina removes the out shell of the manioc
Third/fourth/fifth station the favorite dessert of all time the poipoi,
It is made with various stages of the banana: either dried or green or mature banana with manioc flour and wrapped in a leaf.
You then steam or boil.
Once cooked you will cut/mash and pour in some coco milk. Did we tell you that this white nectar is in fact very rich and high in fat.
For us with delicate stomach it can be rather hard to digest at first.
Enough for today, or we will never be able to post it with the internet we have here.
Needless to say we absolutely enjoyed our meal, some “poisson cru”, mashed bread fruit, goat and banana dessert, simmering in what do you think?
Coco milk of course, you start to understand the local culture.
What are we up to these days? Benjamin has now moved to the one and only store in Vaitahu to progress in his Math class, needless to say he is getting tons of attention as all the little ones wonder what on earth is he doing all day long on his computer while the shopkeeper gives him little treats here and there. Not a bad way to study Calculus is it?
During that time Valerie and I are enjoying the days alone, performing various preventive maintenance, cleanliness tasks on the boat and simply conversations with friends. Most of all we are just loving getting immersed in the lives of a Polynesian island in 2015. Truly there are lots to learn, lots to ponder and so much to share with such quality time we get to understand more and more life in the Marquesas and we can feel the challenge of getting integrated in any valley where the lifestyle hasn’t changed drastically for the last few hundred years. Undoubtedly the access of a cellphone/electricity and car has eased their lifestyle quickly and brought them rapidly to a more comfortable and modern life though the mentalities haven’t changed so fast. The new generations are now going to university in greater numbers and this will create a new dynamic similar to the one in the 60’s in France that saw a total depopulation of the poorest farmland with a major increase in cities; l’exode rural. The future of the Marquises will be interesting to follow. Will they be able to bring other source of revenue or welter, letting the oldest to be the last generation to survive here or as we have seen in Canada some will return to the land for a more minimalistic and natural way of life?
Now on a different subject, as many of you know we are rather utilitarian and don’t buy many knick-knacks…. So in this tradition we purchased from Moise a local sculptor and church deacon a stone carving. This piece has a very special use in any Polynesian home; normally less ornamented it was used on special occasion. What is this object used for in your opinion?
Well the answer is:
This is a “Penu” and it is used to prepare a breadfruit dish very similar to a mashed potato, you then add coco milk to this recipe!
As you now know everything tastes better with real coconut milk in the Marquesas!
We promised some kind of enlightenment, so here we are. Discreetly over two week-ends we did a bit of filming in church, obviously a sin but who will judge us. Still this small video will give you a taste of the singing and praying in Marquesan and hopefully you will get a sense of the ambiance you get to experience around the island on a Sunday at around 8.30am.
Benjamin is at back on school work at the moment, so we have time to set our roots again. And what better way to help where we can. It all started with our friend Koki’s (Augustin) power tools. His chain saw and weed-Wacker were in need of serious tuning, no problem after tempering with our old “bipolar” outboard for months, it was a breeze. Then a washing machine was in need of a little TLC, done deal. Now we have a reputation and the word is out so we are asked if we could have a look at a TV set which is not cooperating since the kids played with it. Poor grand ma, there was no cartoon for the kids for a week and she had to go to the neighbour to buy some peace, well good news she is back with 9 channels.
Now we are beaming, Jose the shop owner had mentioned few weeks ago his 280kg dough mixer which would not run, the machine has been delivered 3 months ago and since it has been installed no bread has been produced on the island, because he couldn’t start it and had been told it needed too much power. That was way too much for my competency, so with the help of another cruiser friend we were in the deal with more skills, two brains is always better than one! Nice and early we showed up at the store, we are talking a 380 volt beast with some 220 and 24 volt system linked to it. Let’s say we were happy to have the schematic along with Google! After scratching our heads for a few hours, we were moving forward and finally got it to rotate lift. So please if you ever are enjoying a baguette in Tahuata, have a thought for Jacques and me.
What’s next? We don’t know, but it sure feels good to be among friends and getting to know more the island spirit, we truly are feeling very fortunate to be here. Now today was one of those busy days; as you might have guessed the Aranui was in town again! Most of the island showed up, and it was nice to see everybody excited and active.
That machine scares the hell out of me. Lucky the one below is more up in my alley.
Where is the work safety officer, when you need it?
The swell decided to run from the North and this is not a good thing here in Vaitahu. This means the dock is overwhelmed, making landing rather challenging and leaving your dinghy feels a little… well suicidal, indeed the waves crash rather abruptly and have enough time to get speed and height that are high enough to challenge any surfers! Land is so close and yet feels so far when this happen.
We wrote those lines just a day ago and as we speak our friend is gone diving to retrieve his anchor back (to no avail at this point) from the bottom as they nearly lost their wooden rowing dinghy yesterday; luckily a local had an eye out and was able to pull it out of the water before any damage was done… Phew!
Yet again we are just amateurs in the marine field; because the Taporo (cargo container) was in town today and trust us they got the loads on the dock working the waves like no tomorrow. Good fortune was with them though, indeed the big machines are out as a new dock is underway and they have a giant crane here for this purpose which helped bring the loads to land safely! Without it they would have had to come back another day, still getting the equipment out was a job better left to the pros. We stayed cocooned aboard Letitgo for a perfect day of reading, not bad after all.
To reassure the spirits this swell is not coming from hurricane Pam you all heard of, hitting Vanuatu a couple of days ago. This part of the world is South West of us and 2800nm away, and has been coming from that direction up to the Tuamotus at a rate of 1.5 meter but never further which is why we are staying in the Marquesas until Mid April, traditionally those monsters are created here and move toward the West or come from the Asia and die on the way..
We just have to be patient and enjoy the moment.
It all seems fine and dandy until the wave comes.
Fuel barrel in the background are for the generator servicing the village.
Just on time delivery take another meaning all together. The barge driver has to get out before the next set large waves.
A set of wave overflowing the dock
The concrete block will be made onsite, not a rumor anymore.
And now for anyone who doesn’t think that France plays a rather large role financially in supporting French Polynesia: have a look at the level of contribution for this project. But not to worry they are not making a breakwater (unfortunately) they are just rendering the quay a little longer, the latter was not in the budget and priority go figure…
March 17th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed
We have to remember that at the beginning of last century or late the one before, the Marquesas had hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. It is hard to imagine nowadays, when a maximum of 10.000 populate the six inhabited islands. Take the example of Vaitahu, where at the moment four hundred souls live in high season, when it used to count 8000 or more in the immediate surroundings. It is not hard to visit the remains of the ancestor housing complex, as they are located in the mountain with no indication this one is a 20 minutes’ walk up the mountain to the fort and it leads you in the middle of some Pae Pae. On every outing we have done so far, we see foundation platforms, retaining and separating walls are available for inspection. Of course the generation that followed, planted the revenue generating cocos on site preserving the land from erosion and forcing cleaning on a regular basis.
On another note Benjamin reviewing his option for future schooling has decided to upgrade his math skill. For this we have him settled in the school principal office under his supervision, well at least close to an electric plug and internet.
One of our favorite fruit Corossol (guanabana in sp), thank you again Alfredo for making us taste it back in La Cruz de Huanacaxle Jalisco Mexico.
March 13th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed
The new nurse in Vaitahu encourages vividly the population to join in an exercise regime to bring them the goodness of being a bit lighter. To follow the trend and show that we all need it we went for a nice walk around Tahuata, we took the road towards Motopu and reached after 6 hours the ridge overlooking the bay. Picnic was stashed and complemented by the local goodness of nature, another fantastic day enjoying the view and taking time to breathe; we can’t help notice the rich valleys around here filled with many fruit trees.
In the last three days we discovered many new types of fruits which were quite unknown to us: starting by the dragon tears, the kava and the chenette (Spanish Lime) some taste like lychees while others taste like nothing we had tasted before.
Yes we are still around not just ghost writing this blog, from picture of others.
Lionel 2.0 to helps us control any unwanted guest sadly he had his tail shortened a bit…
March 10th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed
We just crossed path with a wonderful woman: Georgette and felt she deserved a special place on our travel journal. At the moment she is travelling the Marquesas all on her own via whatever way she can master and is staying with various families who are happily sharing their home. We first met her in Fatu Hiva after riding the bonitier (Interisland speed boat) for 3 hours in the high seas and definitely not the most comfortable ride. Georgette is full of life and enjoying the experience, and has definitely touched our hearts with her smile. When she mentioned Tahuata, we couldn’t resist ourselves. It only took a revived windlass to take her onboard for a quick trip to Tahuata, and another occasion to visit our dear friends once more. Bright and early we picked Georgette from the dock, who was ready to go and hopped in the dinghy, we then escaped Atuona to ride the canal du Bordelais for the second time at a pretty amazing speed, 9 knots that must be where the catamaran speed legend come from!
Evidently we stopped in Hanaemenoa to drop some small provision to Stevens, we were quickly invited for lunch or more exactly a true feast; fresh fish on the barbecue, rice, poisson cru, pork, octopus, and fresh crustaceans along with the most delicious coconut milk, our mouths are still watery at the thought of it all. The water was picture perfect blue, with the coconut trees in the backdrop the sand white and smooth in other words a dream to Georgette’s delight, who went for a good old sand scrub. We arrived later that day in Vaitahu, and what a treat when the kids recognized the boat and in no time half the village knew, we were here before the anchor was dropped.
Georgette is now settled in a nice family home who welcomed her, she has already done one hike and everyone talks about the “old Mamie” from the Metropole who went to church this morning and sang along in Marquesans!
Did we tell you that Georgette is a 71 year old widow, with more energy than most 30 year old?
This is the true Marquesan experience! No ladies I am not talking about the young man below…
March 9th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed
Hiva Oa is still marvelous and we are so happy to see our friends again. We feel we are back in a big city, even if roughly 1000 people live here and that include all the kids from the Southern island boarding in the various school. It is funny to see them all running the street. New sailors are arriving a little more frequently, below you will find two very nice classics and well maintained.
Our new neighboor a little big bigger than normal.
But let’s get technical a little, as you know our windlass (the thingy that gets the anchor up) got stuck in the up position. Fair enough you could say, but not practical to get away discreetly from the pack. So with courage, I started troubleshooting. Some of you will remember that we had an intermittent motor in Mexico, so first thing first, I took the engine off the assembly. But once tested work faultlessly, here are the steps I took: for this remove the three lids from motor and with a reliable 12 volt source apply current, negative in the center positive on the outside switch side the rotation should be opposite. So no brush were stuck or damage, next I removed the remote control from the circuit, still once we switched the breaker on same effect, on nonstop.
Now we are going up the chain of element in the system, the last one is one of my least favorite. Remove all our provisions located under the banquette next to the fridge, there you will find the solenoid or called the control box. I moved it and tap it, and then nothing was working. Out it came, open it was (Thank you Andreas and Almudt), and we found the contact had stuck living the current to flow at all time. Bingo our problem was found, cleaning and re-assembly made it performed perfectly for our last 3 tests. Now let’s hope it holds until the next time we see one on the shelf somewhere.
Here you are you became certified Lofrans’ repair man, you read the book watch the movies, you can wear the T-shirt now…
During testing, sorry I didn’t have my camera when we had it openned, but don’t be afraid it is actually a very simple mechanism.
This is to show you the effect of PPN on price, two articles normally fairly similar in price green beans and peas, but not out here.
This was our picture perfect lime we had at lunch we couldn’t resist.
While we were getting exhausted working, Benjamin wisely decided to go for a hike to the petroglyphs
Beautiful and sweet scented shampoo flowers
In good company he was.
March 6th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed
After three weeks in this windy anchorage, we had a surprise when we pulled the anchor yesterday morning. Indeed, our secondary anchor in tandem shackle was bended rather dramatically, this device is not supposed to be under any major load but obviously the 40 knots and very regular 30 winds put some pressure on the device. Luckily we were still able to pull the secondary anchor without any problem, but we couldn’t open the shackle, we had to resort to cut it. Rather impressive stretching of the metal of a normally round shackle.
Our last round of good bye was jovial, as always we wouldn’t leave the island without more fruits to survive a few days. Evidently the charm of the sculptor had made its way and we brought back home some souvenir from our favorite artist and a new piece of wood for Letitgo in memories of the Marquises. At 6:00 am Letitgo left the bay of Hanave, one last look over the Spectacular Mountain and surroundings and away we went to Hiva Oa for some much needed re-provisioning and fresh green vegetables.
Until next time, good bye and thank you for your warm and genuine welcome: Blandine Marc and family, Simon and all the others.
And now here we are again with the simple pleasure of Atuona, something to eat with some much needed greens, a Hollywood type shower located under the tree, with unlimited free flowing fresh water. Our friends to talk to and share our experience, oh and don’t even bother getting the milk at the gaz station we bought everything they had until the next Aranui… oops!
March 4th, 2015 | Category: Ecuador | Comments are closed