Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nuku Hiva

Regarding relaxed time spending, the Nuku Hiva stop is sort of a benchmark in the Yum-Yum story.

We sailed into Taiohe bay a week before Bastille Day in a hurried pursue of more antibiotics to save Tor's foot from an imagined staff infection, but was in a much more laid-back mode when we left for Nuku Hiva several days later.

The log shows six weeks.

We don't really know any longer if this is much or little time, but is surely was been good time!
The Marquesas people know how to party and celebrate. So, to deal
with the French connection, why not spend one month specked with events to do the Bastille Day properly! Build a temporary big village hall extension with good eating facilities, have the dance troupes in ship shape, and parade, what a parade! First everyone and everything on wheels and feet, it works so much  better with garbage trucks and the rest of the Municipality utility vehicles in stead of tanks.

An ugly head-to-head horse-crash made an abrupt end to the wild race that the parade's best-horse-equipage-showoff escalated into.
The images of the ambulance and the dying horses' kicking feet over the edge of the clean-up tractor shovel definitely laid a dampener on the festivity mood.
But looking back, it's the good memories that prevail. Immensely beautiful dances, where do they hide those neat ladies when not on the stage?
But even chubby-chubby often looks healthy and good on Polynesian broad an firm body-frames. And the heavily tattooed ultra masculine male dancers. Wow! Hah! Uka!

 Naturally integrated, beautiful and often very tall transvestites are everywhere, and remains a puzzle for our eyes.
Henry, the extrovert host down on our favorite food and internet shack at the dock has a raw and maybe untypical humor. But the rest of the locals also fell in,
naturally improvising and supporting his fib about a recently sunken sailboat in Anaho bay. The poor young French couple that had left their boat there for the weekend suddenly were in a terrible rush to get back! One of the sweet young local ladies had even heard the gendarme say that only the mast was over the water...
So the everything OK confirmation by phone from our friends in the same anchorage didn't help much, counter-weighted by this massive stern faced lie from the locals. He-he.
One day Henry stripped the t-shirt off his extensive body to guide us through the equally sized tattoos that told his life story. Rough, sentimental and very touching.
Things here are a little hard core.
The fishermen cleans the catch every morning just next to the dinghy landing, and instead of the cute clean-up pelicans in the Antilles, they have a wild shark fight over the remains thrown in the water. This continuing training program for the local sharks makes the bay dangerous.
Any kind of splashing is a feeding signal, shark bites happens here.
But animism and tabu often overtake our cold scientific explanatory models. So when the local surfer got inpatient and started kicking the water to make the Ocean a little more angry, it's his loss that the Big Water Entity that specific day chose to respond with a shark rather than a big wave!

Many cruisers spend some time here, as Nuku Hiva is the main island in the Marquesas. Louis and Igor on Larka rented a house on land for some weeks, had little Ingrid escape from her mother's womb at the hospital, and established a temporary sailor's reception unit on land until they sailed on.
Tor, Gil, Igor, Louise and Ingrid in mother's arm.
Here we caught up and finally spent some time with Gil on Samara 2. We have been parallel sailing with him and his Lagoon from our first landing on Fatu Hiva, but sort of out of phase until now.

Gil is a cheerful and adventurous engineer, a dedicated aviator with French roots. Most sailors has very interesting life stories, but his pictures from India and a big barge project on the Nile stands out. We enjoyed his company a lot, and hope to meet again.
The same goes for Marion and Mark on Zena. We shared the 4WD round-trip on the island with them. Along the long north coast the four wheel drive really came to good use. The road wasn't even on the map. Like on Hiva Oa, it is astonishing how the vegetation and the climate change when we get half a kilometer over sea level.
 Except from the most defined basalt towers, the landscape looks a lot like West Norway.
Though it's volcanic origin, the rock here is old and eroded, very unlike for example Galapagos.

We visited some important archeological sites. The amount and sizes of pai-pais (piled stone house foundations) and the petroglyfs tells us about a time when these islands were crowded with people. A lot has been done to make the sites accessible for visitors.
We had a surprisingly good lunch at the restaurant in Hatiheu.
Again we were impressed with the woodcarving work everywhere and especially in the churches, and that there are so many artists with individual expression and style in such a small population.

 Inspired, I discretely placed my Bjoernsund Fisherman Overlooking The Ocean-
sculpture on top of the rock-piling-contribution we made at a viewpoint on the north coast.
As the days passed by, we slowly started to feel it was time to explore a little more from the sea side.

So one fine morning we disconnected from the internet and sailed up to Anaho bay on the north east corner of the island. This bay opens to the north, is deep and widens in the bottom behind a north faced cliff. This package reduces the impact of the swell, and makes this little corner the most calm anchorage in the Marquesas. There is often OK visibility in the water, and it is a gorgeous place with well kept plantation along a white sand beach.
Over in the far east bay, about half an hour walk away, we stumbled into the farm of Moana and Marie. So once again, after an hour's guided crop sightseeing and plentiful tasting, we had made new farm-friends and were happy to see that at least someone takes advantage of the fabulous farming conditions we have noticed along the Yum-Yum track.
Our buyings were brought over by horse-express a few days later. Which was very exclusive, but after a few days it became apparent that tomatoes don't like horse-riding...
On the intake-side we also had several gastronomic pedestrian excursions over to the earlier mentioned restaurant in Hatiheu.
One day we took part in a traditional Marquesas under-ground-cooked pig and breadfruit meal there, together with the Aranui-guests. (Aranui is a combined freighter and cruise-ship that frequents the islands.)

The locals made a nice show with the digging and uncovering of the food under layers of palm leaves, without spilling sand in, and the food turned out to be really delicious, like slow boiled with a touch of smoked.

 The trail between the bays went through a forest of late season mango trees... more Yum-Yum.

Back in inviting water with more predictable shark behavior, it felt good for both us and the boat to give the hulls a good scrub. Not so much for the 200 small crabs that suddenly found themselves deprived of cosy homes in the green growth...

We ended up sailing back to Taiohae instead of circling Nuku Hiva as initially planned. This time it was Valentine's thumb that wanted to visit the hospital. This detour ended up being a shortcut, as the only place that was left for us to visit anyway, was the bays on the south-west corner. We sailed on towards that destination a few days later, Valentine with a big X-ray picture, and Tor with a brand new tattoo...

In the south-west , called Daniel's Bay among the cruisers, there is a very tiny society consisting of a handful of people. Kua and Teiki are taking care of the boat visitors. They cook and serve traditionally in their home, and are a cheerful and welcoming couple with very different backgrounds. Teiki looks impressive with even his face extensively tattooed by use of traditional methods, and the hair removed on the sides of his head. He has grown up escaping most of modern civilization’s “blessings” (like school) and takes pride in his abilities to live well in the Marquesas nature. Still, his catholic faith is reflected in details in the facial tattoo. Kua comes from a resourceful family, and had done university studies on Tahiti before going “back to nature”.

There is a very famous waterfall up in the end of the valley. It is upposed to be the 3rd highest in the world with it's 350 meter fall. We didn't really see all of it, as the bottom part is recessed into the mountain side behind a cliff, and we walked up there after a very rainy night. But it was a good walk in interesting terrain.
We shared Daniel's Bay with two other boats for a couple of days before we had it to ourselves. Both Patrick and Barry are long time cruisers, currently type one man-one boat, that were having their last stop before to leave the Marquesas. With a couple of young backpackers each as crew.
The fortunate couple on Yum-Yum are each others crew, and have enough time to hang around to wait for weather conditions to visit Ua Huka.
Ua Huka is the most difficult to visit of the inhabited Marquesas, because of it's lack of protected anchorages. All the cruisers that we know who has tried to visit, has given in after one sleepless night in the swell, without going on land at all.
But we still want to give it a try, and we didn't have to wait long for favorable grib files (weather forecast). So as another fine morning rouse, Yum-Yum headed out of the bay and into the wind towards the east.
Would we be more successful than our friends?

That's another chapter.

Amputation next??!
So, what was this story about Tor's foot again? Well, a strange little scratch started to expand instead to heal. The French doctor on Oa Pou put me on staff antibiotics cure, but couldn't provide a complete set of pills. The cure had no effect and was probably a mistake. In the end none of the four doctors consulted could come up with a good diagnosis (Never seen anything like this). It looked quite scary there for a while, but eventually built-in Viking Recovery System and Valentine's Miracolo Oils did the trick.
But Valentine's thumb is still making resistance.

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