Well, here we are a month in the Marquesas already and nearly time to move on.  It has gone so fast and so slow at the same time. I am coming to realize how incredible the way of life is here, so much slower than what I have known.  The days on shore are filled with fruits falling from trees and people spending time together, maybe a pig hunt or two thrown in.  Our reality is watching the sun set surrounded by mountains, while on shore a truck drives past, followed by a man galloping by on horseback, and it is no longer that strange.  The smells of fire from cooking breadfruit/goat/pig etc, of earth and fish.  Being thankful for a cloudy sky because you won’t die of heat but also praying for sun to charge our battery bank. 

We have seen so many islands now and have had such an amazing time here, it is hard to believe it is time to move on but it was a month since we first made landfall yesterday.  So, what has happened since that first day in Fatu hiva,

Well here we go…

Our time in Fatu Hiva was beautiful, the bay was surrounded by these dramatic somewhat scary peaks of rock that have been described as looking like tikis and I could see why!  Hanavave the town seemed to make most of its money on the cruisers that anchored there, while we were there we were one of 16 boats in an anchorage described as comfortable for 4-5, crowded!  The nice thing was that a lot of the boats were people we had already met, so it was like a tiny reunion!  Including watching the local kids steal Carl and Cristina’s kayak!

  The town itself was tiny, a small slipway where they would launch aluminum boats filled with dogs to go hunt pigs on other parts of the island complete with a  Tiki bollard, a basketball court, church, school and one shop.  The shop had nothing fresh in it, just canned or frozen things.  The baguettes were in the ladies freezer next door.  Because you really couldn’t even buy new things, the economy wasn’t focussed only on money, the people there did a lot of exchanging, trade your old things for something they have made and they made some beautiful things.  The most unique were the tapas, cloth made from the bark of a tree and hammered until it was soft and supple and then painted, they were beautiful!  The tikis carved of stone or wood were beautiful too, really cool to walk past a workshop with a guy and his chainsaw and then to go back and see these polished pieces of art!

I went to church there, a bit nerve wracking as everyone was gathering near the dock where we landed, as Phil dropped me off the whole community turned to look!  But what a service, they started by singing with ukuleles as they walked to the church and as they entered the sound was incredible.  It was the most joyful service I’ve ever been to.  After church my Phil came back to get me and we decided to check out town with Carl and Cristina, keeping in mind that I was wearing my church clothes!  We started walking and ended up scrambling up to a waterfall outside of town, it was beautiful and violent, the winds were howling and it had rained a lot so the water was pouring over, bringing small rocks with it sometimes.  Just standing close to it was like having a shower and we were all soaked! I went barefoot part of the way back because the mud was so slippery I was skating around inside my flip-flops!  Then we decided to take the short cut home and ended up fording a chest deep river! 

Our days went by in a blur, other highlights were the kids asking us for bon bons, flutes, yoyos and crayons or to come and see the boat.  We finally brought Felix, the quietest and politest kid out for a few cookies and to check it out, no idea if he had fun but it was a cool kayak ride at least! 

We hiked up the road to the top of the hill, a hard walk and impressive view!  We went on a tiki tour, being taken from one home to the next (you have to see my brother’s work or my aunts tapas) and got two small tapas to remember.  We were taken to the police officers house to try to fix his trucks horn and after an hour of trying decided that they had installed the new horn wrong and blown a relay, I am convinced that he will bring yet another cruiser over to try to fix what can’t be fixed!  And we went to a local dinner, which was delicious!  It was the first time I saw Phil actually eat and enjoy banana.  They were mashed up and cooked with cornstarch and coconut milk over the fire for hours.  Desire our host woke up at 4 am to prepare everything and it was all done outside over an open fire.  The cochon (pig) still had some hair on it, but was incredible despite that, the chicken was not cut into pieces you would recognize but hacked into bits with lots of bone and stewed in coconut milk and she apologized for the pamplemousse, the only thing that wasn’t grown or collected on her land (it came from her sister’s tree!).

It was a great time there and a beautiful place, but at the end we were ready to go and explore more.  We decided to head back to Hiva Oa to check out some tikis and also to visit our friends on La Luz, who had made the passage on their 26 foot boat and unfortunately had some rigging problems so they couldn’t keep going until they got their parts.  This time in Atuona was a lot better, a better and bigger hole to anchor in, good friends and we had a fabulous visit!  I finally got caught up with the laundry, washing it by hand with Zuleyka using the water that came down the mountains.  Lots of fresh water showers in the showers by the dock.  The most delicious pizza of our lives I think for a special dinner out!  We rented a car and drove all around the island seeing incredible tikis and more incredible roads, 2 hours to go 20 km mostly in first gear.  Up and down mountains, incredible bays.  It was spectacular.  We went to a small village called Taaoha and saw the tikis there, unfortunately Doug slipped and cut his head so thankfully we had the car and I got to practice my French at the l’hopital while he was stitched back together!  The next day we hiked up the mountain, but on the way picked up 3 followers, a 9 year old girl named Sandrine, 8 year old David and 4 year old Takanui (wearing pjs and David’s flip flops).  We of course were decked out in hiking boots and then promptly put to shame by the kids running up the mountainside!  What a way to see Atuona, the pride with which they showed us all of their treasured places, the plants, the birds and watching them secretly confer as they choice the best place to reveal the beautiful waterfall on the other mountain.  It was awesome in every sense of the word.  Surrounded by cliffs, valleys, trees.  It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

The next day I begged Phil to climb the rest of the mountain, we figured we had made it about half way the day before and had heard some great things about the top.  So up we went, and up and up and up.  The path was definitely less than easy but we made it to the top, a real accomplishment and had lunch with the clouds swirling around us.  That night was our pizza night and the effort of the day may have had something to do with how delicious it was. 

Our last day in Atuona Zuleyka and I went to town to get the provisions for our next few islands and saw a huge party in the main square.  There isn’t a lot to do here so any excuse to party is looked upon favourably.  This one was mother’s day.  We decided to go and tell the boys we should leave in the morning and check out the party that night.  We got back close to 4 pm when they said the dancing would start again, and sat around, a great place to relax.  Fo Fo, one of the locals took us home with him with the idea that Phil would climb the grapefruit tree.  Unfortunately or luckily depending on how you look at it the younger brother was home and they ended up throwing about 10 head sized pamplemousse down to us!  A load to carry home.  Back to the park and the dancing started, what an incredible show.  They were doing war dances with drums and the atmosphere was electric.  After the dancing was the mother’s day part.  I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.  2 teams, sack races, arm wrestling, tug of war and not a smiling face because it was for money!  One of the cruiser mom’s got sucked in and did and incredible job of representing, even winning the arm wrestling contest!  What a way to celebrate mother’s day! 

The next morning we headed out back to tahuata, a beautiful afternoon sail and when we got there we had the most delicious bbq in the world, in heaven.  Ocean, blue sky, calm water and good friends.  I think we all ate too much meat, but then went over to La Luz for a party with 7 people on board (not bad for a little 26 foot boat).  Phil and I snorkelled all the way to shore the next day and that was my 5 shark day!  The water was the clearest I had ever seen in the Marquesas and the snorkelling was beautiful.  The most amazing part was the manta rays with 5 foot wing spans.  They would swim right up to you and check you out, even upside down to see you better.  What incredible creatures!  That was our day for cleaning the boats and getting ready to move on.  We decided to spend one more day there and I was successful in heading to shore in the kayak with Zuleyka (not getting drenched on our beaching which was an accomplishment) and opening a coconut to drink with only a stick, I’m getting skilled!  We didn’t stop by the party on the other boat (later described as a Marquesian dance party though everyone was sitting down) and that evening we headed off into the sunset for Ua Pou. 

What a sight, the sun rising and the peaks of what was the inside of a volcano coming into view. 

And with that tempting sentence I am going to finish writing! It is the day after my birthday and we are off to the Tuamotus. Looking forward to getting the rest written down so I don’t forget it all!

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