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Northern Marquesan Islands

July 30th, 2009 · No Comments

We leave Tahuata early for the sixty five miles up to Ua Pou it has a spectacularly serrated skyline, countless spires and towers, often shrouded in clouds. The sail was with the wind on the beam and the seas were flatish. Arriving at the Bay De Hakahau, the parking was tight especially as the ferry/mini cruise ship was in, bow and stern anchors required here and accurate manouvering all in the constant roll. This is the third most populated village in the Marquises and has the usual Catholic church, small shops, gendarmerie, infirmary and bakery. But very little fruit for sale! Mainly I think because everyone grows their own, so why should they sell it in the shops? But I need fruit, so I ask and was directed to the home of Odette, now she was extremely generous and filled my two “sacs” to overflowing with Pamplemousse straight from the tree, advacados ready in a few days, limes, mangoes and sour sop. She then wanted to give us a lift back to the harbour! We declined her lift, but accepted the lift from someone else when she stopped on the road and asked if we were going back to the bateau, after being dropped off she gave us two pamplemousse she had in the back of her landrover. Odettes grandfather came from Scotland, Lawson was his surname, so to all the Lawsons looking at family history you have a very kind relative living in Hanaiapa who grows great fruit.

A brisk sail takes us to Nuka Hiva, the last of the Marquesian islands we will visit, probably the best anchorage we have had in the group, located at the north side of the island, Baie of Anaho. Ashore there are a few houses, a building for summer camp groups, canoes with out riggers bobbing on the water, and black tip sharks swim in the reefs. There is no road, only a path which takes you up over the saddle in the hill to the next village. We take the track, passed all the mango trees dripping with fruit, to Hatiheu, a favourite spot of Robert Louis Stevenson. Just outside the village there are three archeological sites, one which was renovated for the 1999 International Arts Festival. They are dramatic and obviously were very important. At the local centre there are a group of young people waiting to greet a group from Papeete, who are here for a few days. The drumming and dancing was enthusiastically performed, and great to see young people having so much fun, and keeping their traditions alive.

Guests arriving from Tahiti , Welcome Dancing , Dance drumming
(links load videos and sound tracks – suggest right click and open in new tabs).

The Marquesas Islands group known as Te Henua Enata, The Land of Men are populated by Polyensian inhabitants. There are ten islands only six inhabited. Legend of the islands creation goes “The first man was named Atea, when he took Atanua first women as his wife she pleaded for a home, but Atea did not know how to build one. He invoked the god Pa’io’io to help him and different phases of the construction gave rise to a name for each of the major islands Ua Pou – the two posts, Hiva Oa – the long ridge pole, Nuka Hiva – the assemblage of poles, Fatu Hiva – nine thatched panels, Tahuata – burning clouds, Mohotani – moho bird is singing Uahuka – the rubbish pit and Eino – the light of the day.

The islands are high volcanically formed, have steep black cliffs indented by many valleys. The people want to talk to you, are generally friendly and some exceptionally kind. Unfortunately some of young seem to have found a taste for alcohol and when bartering ask for wine beer or spirits first.

Link to Tahuata and Ua Pou photos

Link to Naku Hiva photos

Tags: Pacific Leg