Rewind: Nuku Hiva Memoir

Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva is the biggest town in the Marquesas.  While K went back to the States for a meeting back in early May, I spent a week on the hook doing boat chores and getting caught up on a mountain of laundry (have you hugged your appliances today?).    But we did manage to go ashore and see the town.

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Our mouths watered as we marvelled again at the copious fruit growing in nearly everyone’s yards (notice the rooster poised over the golden mango on the ground?).

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One of K’s favorite features of the town was the salami tree in front of the bank:

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My favorite feature was the horses scattered all around town: on the beach, in people’s front yards, and even in the drainage canals. 

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Some look better fed than others.  There was at least one horse that didn’t seem to know what a carrot was.  

There was a young man who galloped his horse along the waterfront every day.  Reminiscent of the puppy washing at Bahia Tortuga, one day he took her into the surf for a scrub.  As he playfully ran away from her she followed him onto the beach.

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Our new friends Linda and John on the Hans Christian 33 Nakia introduced us to our anchorage neighbors (and dog owners) Daphne and Erik from Windweaver, and to Rose Corser, who owns a small hotel in town.  Rose, a native of Oklahoma, was an art teacher looking for a place to do her graduate research when she and her husband Frank decided to sail to the Marquesas in the early 1970s.  They started a hotel in town that opened up the island for tourism.  Rose sold the hotel after Frank died but now she’s starting a new small hotel with a bar and restaurant.  Rose is an expert in local culture and customs as well as local plants and their traditional uses.  She’s certainly seen a lot of change on the islands over the years, but, she tells us, the people haven’t changed.  What an inspiration! 

A highlight of my time in Taiohae was meeting Laura, who was fishing at the dinghy dock while I was doing laundry one Saturday morning.

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Laura knows a little English and was very patient with my attempts at French. We took turns thumbing through my French/English dictionary and phrase book to learn about one another.  It turns out that Laura is 12, she comes from Mont-de-Marsan in France, but she’s been on the island with her parents for the past 3 years. 

Once K got back from his trip, we bought groceries and made the short hop west over to Hakatea Bay.  Hakatea appears to be something of a bedroom community. 

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We took the dinghy a short way up the small river and tied it to a tree before starting onto the path that would take us to a waterfall. 

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The path lead us past several houses – complete with horses, chickens, more heavily laden fruit trees - 

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and the community telephone with associated telephone pole. 

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We greeted some locals and their dogs…

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as the path gradually lead us across some streams and into the woods.  As usual, the our way was littered with blossoms.

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We passed by many intriguing stone structures and other reminders of the island’s ancient inhabitants.

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We walked for hours, scoring a few near-rotten windfall mangoes and a couple of green coconuts along the way,

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before we came into a green valley surrounded by breathtakingly steep rock walls.  Tropic birds sang and flitted above us.

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The path lead us on to the head of the valley.  The 900 ft waterfall wasn’t much more than a trickle against the far wall, but it fell from an impressive height. 

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The cool water in its swimming hole was clearer and the crawfish even bigger than those on Fatu Hiva.  Luckily again we saw no eels.

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08°56.61′S 140°09.85′W 12-May-10 04:30 PDT

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