Thursday, April 24, 2008


Thank you for your patience, all you vicarious voyagers! It seems the muse has not visited as often of late. From the intensity of the crossing, we have transitioned to the intensity of relaxing! That and sad news from home that cast a long shadow. But that is for family and life goes on...
Our landing in Fatu Hiva was all that a landfall in paradise could be. It was, of course, not legal and on the second day the local gendarme had words with our friends on Tarun. We missed it but it seems he was a little upset we did not visit him on arrival. In the end, he was content though and said we had 3 days and then must leave to go to an official port of entry to clear into the country. Meanwhile we attempted the hour long hike into the tropical rain forest to find the waterfall. It
was not an easy hike! The paved road ended, then the unpaved road ended and soon we were following a track through dense jungle, with lots of palm trees and beautiful white or red flowers everywhere. The trail continued to get narrower and soon we were searching ahead for the small cairns, rock piles that others had stacked to show the way. Some scrambling up and down slippery rocks, along a stream and down a valley and voila! Le waterfall! Quite spectacular actually, maybe 300 feet or more
of sheer cliff face with a curtain of water falling into a pool below. A family on a catamaran who had just come through the Panama Canal and the Galapagos were there and the girls were swimming in the pool. Our guide book had indicated it was polluted but it seemed fine. Later we exchanged stories on the big black fresh water leeches we had seen and the 3 foot long black eel that Brian saw further downstream. We did not swim but enjoyed the location before trekking back.
On the way out of town, we had been approached by a rather large woman who asked if we had anything to trade. We had brought along some colored crayons and elastic hair bands and small items like that. We agreed to pick up some fruit from her on the way back. Well, she was nowhere to be found on our way back but I had asked her name and so enquired in town of Marie Priscilla! We were pointed to her house but a neighbor said she was visiting and sent us in that direction. After several inquiries,
we found her and she seemed in no hurry to fulfill her part of the barter. But we smiled and were persistent and she scavenged three huge pamplemousse from someone else's tree and some green oranges, some lemons and a papaya. So we were happy. Another young girl had been pestering us so we gave her another box of crayons for another large grapefruit! The grapefruit are to die for! They are huge and sweet and delicious. We met a couple of wood carvers working in a shed. No more carving tools,
they had the disc grinders going. They harvested the wood from rosewood trees on the windy side of the island and some of the tikis and other animals they carved were beautiful. We had no local currency at this point and no one seemed interested in American dollars. What they wanted were boat bumpers or heavy ropes. These we could not spare!
The next day we raised the anchor and sailed the 40 plus miles to Hiva Oa and the rolly anchorage behind the breakwater in Atuona, where the wastrels Paul Gaugin and Jacques Brel spent their last years. The anchorage was crowded and uncomfortable and the 2 mile walk up the hill and around the bay to town was tiring in the heat and humidity. But the baguettes were cheap and fresh every day so we did our paperwork and cleared into the country. The locals were friendly and if you stuck your thumb
out, you could usually get a ride into town.
But we got out of there as soon as we could and now we are anchored in an idyllic little bay on the lee side of Tahuata Island, only about a two hour sail from Atuona. The water is a turquoise and clear down to the sand and coral 25 feet below. We swim and relax, unwinding still from the rigors of travel. The sandy beach is white and the breeze makes the heat bearable! We picked up some NZ lamb in town and Linda is busy making it into a curry....have to get over to the rock cliffs to look for
the parrot really is a rough life!

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