Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Before leaving Atuona, we attended a pig roast hosted by a local gentleman
who lives in the hills above the anchorage and provides services for
visiting cruisers.  We were accompanied by several friends from our Puddle
Jump group as well as a number of others of different nationalities.  Of
the group of 21, we had people from the United States, Canada, Denmark,
Sweden, Germany, South Africa, South America and Zimbabwe.  The main
course consisted of a pig and wild goat baked in a hot coal-lined earthen
pit covered with layers of damp banana leaves.  Side dishes included an
extensive sampling of local foods such as poi, breadfruit, poisson cru,
vegetable casseroles, rice, dumplings, baked bananas in coconut milk and
pamplemouse (large grapefruit).  We found most of the food very tasty and
enjoyed getting to know many new interesting people.
After a final provisioning run for fresh fruit and vegetables and the
completion of a list of boat chores, we raised our anchor, motored out of
the harbor, and began a clockwise circumnavigation of the island of Hiva
Oa.  Friends Ann and Bob, on the sailing vessel “Charisma”, joined us for
the two hour sail to a bay on the northwest side of the island called
Hanamenu.  Two days were spent there soaking-in the exotic tropical
scenery.  One afternoon, we and the “Charisma” crew took our dinghies
ashore for an exploratory hike.  We were greeted by a local gentleman with
a huge smile and a twinkle in his eye.  He sat under the shade of a tall
palm tree and patiently watched us drag our dinghies up above the tide
line and change into our hiking shoes.  We did our best with our limited
French to introduce ourselves and, although communication was limited, he
motioned for us to follow him.  He led us to a spectacular, fresh water
pool fed by water that cascaded down from the jungle covered hillside.
The pool and surrounding gardens were pristine and inviting but we were
anxious to hike a bit and explore more of the area.  Our guide led us a
little further into a small compound of what looked like part- time homes
where we encountered two other gentlemen.   One was larger than life in
every way and both welcomed us with mounds of fresh fruit.  As we stood
and tried to communicate in French, they cut a watermelon into large
slices for us to enjoy.  Before we could continue any further, they had
accumulated a large pile of papaya and cucumber for us to take with us to
our boats.  Walking farther inland through the dense jungle we stopped to
marvel at the stone ruins scattered along the way.  In the early 1800s,
the population of the Marquesas numbered nearly 80,000 but sadly, due to
diseases introduced by Europeans, currently only 2000 remain.  Throughout
the islands are countless examples of stone ruins dating back to the 1600s
and this site was particularly rich in walls, foundations and ceremonial
platforms.  Returning from our hike, we stopped to collect our fruit and
thanked the gentlemen profusely.  We wished that we had brought some gifts
to offer them in exchange but the best we could come up with was the
baseball cap that Bob was wearing.  Even though the local residents expect
nothing in return and their generosity is motivated only by their warmth
and friendliness, we have made mental notes to not go ashore again without
some small tokens of our appreciation.
These islands are truly a tropical paradise but not without a few
unpleasant features.  The most significant of which are mosquitos and
varieties of tiny biting flies referred to as NoNos.  As we prepared to
launch our dinghies, we were besieged by NoNos that, despite heavy
applications of insect repellent, seemed intent on making a meal of us.
We quickly got underway and rowed most of the way back to “Blue Rodeo”
before the cloud of insects lost interest.

 Our day concluded with a sunset cocktail and appetizers aboard “Charisma”
before returning to “Blue Rodeo” for dinner and a couple of episodes of
“The West Wing” on DVD.   Another great day

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