Wednesday, June 5, 2013

a strange paradise

2 weeks ago we arrived in fatu hiva.
meanwhile we have moved up the island chain via tahuata and are currently in ahano bay on nuku hiva.

unfortunately we still only have our satphone-internet (the normal one we only had for a day and that was too early on to do a post) - so we can't post any photos. we will do that as soon as we have a fast connection again.

meanwhile: what to write about these grown over rocks in the middle of the vast ocean?
i'll start with what my expectations were - the picture i had in my head the minute i read about these islands for the first time.

a paradise with flowering trees and mangos wherever you go. lovely waterfalls, empty anchorages. maybe a few little townships with a tiny corner store where you can buy corned beef and washing powder. sandy beaches and calm bays to anchor in. a few gentle hills, the odd higher one. coconuts. deep blue water. the feeling of total isolation so far off everything

and apart from the fact that i don't feel isolated at all - my expectations were not so far off... but compared to the truth, my idea lacks character and is rather shallow.
these islands are stunning...almost to a degree of intimidation.
the hills are steep mountains and the "flowering trees" are dense vegetation.
the waterfalls are huge and as to the small townships....well, that might be true for some places, but towns like taihoe bay on nuku hiva have little shops where you can buy french cheese, foil de canard and australian arnotts biscuits. the kids play music on their smart phones on the way home from school and their parents drive a brand new hilux.
nothing wrong with that...just a correction to my naivety and maybe a bit of chauvinism on my side, expecting a society not to evolve in the same way my own did.
still...on fatu hiva we traded school books and paints, a couple of deodorants and fishing gear we baught in panama for that purpose for the most amazing plain tapa cloth (a paper made by hand out of tree bark with the most amazing texture...usually painted on - we think the cloth alone is a work of art - so no painting on it)
we were offered fruit for a bottle of wine or a couple of beers (we declined the offer though after being warned not to trade alcohol by the coast guard though...and instead collected our own with the permission of the tree owners)
we went to a restaurant but also had a couple of meals at local homes for 15$US per person and after the food (a buffet including excellent poison cru, breadfruit, rice, banana, a beef or chicken stew etc) where afterwards the hosts were more than happy to share one of our beers, enjoy our company as we enjoyed theirs and sing for us.
apparently they grow the best weed here on these islands...and on these long and dark evenings where there is no light around and only the sound of the sea in the distance and a few roosters in the woods breaks the silence, the ukulele and a joint make for a great night for some of the marquesans.

people seem happy here - and very much at ease with their old traditions and the new "stuff" from overseas.
proudly they make tikis and pass on their craft to their children, while watching some french tv.
amazingly you do also see a lot of man-girls around - pretty women with an "extra" in their pants and sometimes voices like Barry White...and the only one noticing this as odd is the cruisers that come in from the "modern world".
...makes you wonder who is stuck in "old ways".

as to us? fatu hiva was almost a bit the dark forest in "little red riding hood" - and the anchorage was good for two days and a nightmare on our last night, where boats started dragging caused by one yacht with not enough chain, resulting in enough damage to make panthaenius yacht insurance want to reconsider writing an exemption to this bay in their policy.
tahuata was beautiful...and we caught our first yellow fin tuna! the best fish we ever had!
we swam with manta rays - to me the most beautiful fish ever...and in anaho bay - well, i guess we could live here!
there are a few houses here - a fruit and vegetable farm 45min walk in on direction and a little town 45min walk in the other direction. everything people need here is brought either by horse or little outrigger canoe.
people have their own wonderful gardens here and are happy to share with you.

and the sound of roosters fills the air. actually these islands should be called "chicken islands" or "goat-land".
the amount of goats and chicken (apparently all dating back to those few Captain Cook brought here) is sheer crazy.
after having gone wild they live a happy life in the dense forrest...only every now and then hunted for a special meal by the locals.

towards the end of the week we will head off once again and leave this strange paradise to sail for 3,5 days to the tuamotus - small sand and coral patches with people on them...can't wait to see how the marquesas will look like some 100.000 years from now.