Posted by: catamarantwooceans | June 2, 2009

The Marquesas – Hiva Oa

25.05.09 – Monday – In the morning we went ashore with the intention of doing the entry procedure. We started walking to the village, which is about 40 minutes away. The view, the scenery, were magnificent. We breathed the clean air, enjoying the smell of flowers and trees, growing wild on the fertile volcanic soil. Mango trees grow on the side of the road, full of fruit. I shook a branch and each of us had a ripe mango – delicious! Zvi summed his feelings this way:”If Heaven is anything like this – I’m starting to behave myself”. I totally concur.

Green!

Green!

We came to the Gendarmerie, and pressed the call button. A voice sounded on the speaker:”Come back tomorrow, no, come back on Wednesday”. In theory they are supposed to work Moday to Friday. Oh, well… Island time.

We found a grocery shop and bought a few things including two baguettes, real French baguettes! We bought fresh vegetables from a vendor with a truck on the side of the road and made our way back to the anchorage. The village is very tidy and clean. Every house has trees in the yard, many of them are big mango trees with an abundance of fruit.

Later in the afternoon we went ashore to fill our water jerry-cans and call a local laundry service. While waitig for Marie-Jo, the laundry lady, to come to the dinghy dock we met other cruisers who gave us some information about the village. Two guys said that Marie-Jo had cruisers eat at her home and that it was the best food they had in the islands here. We decided to give it a try. Marie-Jo turned to be a jolly Polynesian woman, she is a woman of all trades, taxi service, laundry and food!

Marie-Jo
Marie-Jo

There are a lot of boats in the bay; I counted 16, a few catamarans – one a 24 foot with two guys on board. They spoke French but probably came from Equador. They left before I could ask.

Small cat

Small cat

 26.05.09 – Tuesday – We gave the Gendarmerie another try but got the same response: “Come back tomorrow”.  Went to the post office for internet – expensive at 10$ an hour – just to learn later that there was cheaper Wi-Fi right in the anchorage…More shopping, some work on the boat and at 1830 we waited on shore for Marie-Jo to take us to dinner at her home. A truck came and a guy said he was sent for us. On the way to Mari-Jo’s we learnt that he was a friend of the family, a headmaster of a local school. Coming to the family home, we were met by two women: Moee and Tehini. The table was set for five but we were only four, that is until the children started appearing to look at the Faranges. The ladies, who explained they were sisters, said that Marie-Jo was busy elsewhere and proceeded to serve dinner. We had mussels from New Zealand, cucumber salad, chicken with rice and red wine. A coffee and cake for desert plus a most delicious and juicy pampelmous. Not bad, but the main attraction were the kids. Curious about the men from Israel, where Jesus was born, they proceeded to ask about words in Hebrew. They were going to brag about the experience in school tomorrow. Just as we were getting ready to leave, Marie-Jo and her husband appeared. After helping the husband carry stuff from his truck to one of the buildings, he took us back to the anchorage. He, as well as the headmaster, were Europeans. The island’s population comprises of Polynesians as well as Europeans. The difference in appearance is very much evident. It seems that marriage of Polynesian women to European men is very common. I wonder if marriages of European women to local men is also prevalent.

27.05.09 – Wednesday – We finally succeeded in doing the entry clearance and got our passports stamped. Then we climbed the hill to the town’s cemetery, and visited the graves of Paul Gaugin and Jaques Brel.

Brel grave

Brel grave

And message

And message

Gaugin's grave

Gaugin's grave

Walking through the town we had the feeling of visiting a well tended botanical garden. Everything was so clean and tidy!

Marie-Jo picked us up at 1100, we drove to her house to get our laundry and met some more members of the family. It looks as if three branches of the same family live on the same plot, with every passing moment another Granny or kid making an appearance. The one who did not show up was Moee, who promised to supply us with fruit. We’ll buy those in Fatu Hiva, which we hope to get to tomorrow.

Just ahead of us another catamaran was anchored with an American couple aboard – Mike and Mary.  We exchanged books with them and they came by to ask if we wanted to join them for an island tour on a rented car. We have the same plan for when Joel will join us and anyway we were going to Fatu Hiva so we declined but invited them aboard for drinks. They told us an amazing story about one of the boats in the bay – “Inherit the Wind” – a wooden ketch with a single-hander on it. It seems he started out of Panama and somewhere on the way developed a leak he could barely control and suspected his keel was not structuraly sound. He proceeded slowly, with just the jib, making about two knots. He became short of food and made a distress call. Two yachts and a ship came by to assist. The man did not abandon ship, but rather took supplies and continued to Hiva Oa which he reached 62 (sixty two!) days after departure. He was now looking for a place to lift the boat. What an experience!

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