So. We left Hana Moe Noa Bay because we were tired of that damned clear water and all those color fishes and those outrageously obnoxious manta rays. Just kidding, but we did leave. We headed to the charming bay of Hakahau on the island of Ua Pou. In my opinion, aside from the Jurassic Park like landscape and crazy tall spires that shoot off the mountains and into the clouds, Ua Pou does not have much to offer. Maybe this is because we only spent one day there, and this day was the day before Easter, but everything was closed- except customs.
We already checked in at Hiva Oa, fortunately, because we would have gotten busted here had we not, but in French Polynesia French customs can board and search your boat whenever they want (I am pretty sure this goes for any country with a competent navy/coast guard). No sooner had we set the stern anchor that three very nice looking gentlemen (two Polynesian and one Frenchie) sped up to our boat. The three of us (Mom, Dad and myself) were very charming and welcoming to these guys: Bonjour! Would you like a Coca-Cola? How do you say... en Francais?
Really, they were looking for alcohol because if you have over X amount of bottles they can fine you. "Ehhh, how much alcohol do you have on board?" they ask. "Um, not much, maybe a few cases of beer, a few bottles of wine, and a few bottles of spirits," Dad tells them. "Ok, ok, fine," they say, "Now, we will take a look around your boat." Gulp. As you probably know, absolutely no space is wasted on a boat, so this means that there are a million places to store things. Under the floor boards, under the beds, under the setees (couches): all filled with beer. Not really, but they are filled with something. And beer is hidden in all sorts of random places on the boat, wherever it can fit.
The guys poke around, Dad pulls out one case of booze and says, this is it! Must think we are pretty boring, eh? The guys smiled but I don't think they were amused. They looked behind seat cushions and at one point came dangerously close to finding the wine cellar (under the table), but fortunately they gave up and left. A pleasant visit, really.
We left Ua Pou after a nice Easter breakfast and headed to the island of Nuku Hiva, which is the most populated island of the Marquesas. Anchored in Taiohae Bay, we asked Mark and Yuka from the boat Merkava to come over for dinner. Yuka is Japanese, and for only learning English for the past 5 years, her English is really good. But she is a firecracker, freaking hilarious, and sometimes does not fully understand North American cultural norms.
We were talking about what different cultures eat for different holidays. She told us about her first experience at an American Thanksgiving. "It was horrible! The food was soooo gross. And that bird you eat, the turkey? its disgusting! You stick the food in its asshole and cook it and then you eat it? Gross!" At this point we all burst out laughing but Yuka doesn't get it. She asks, "Did I say it wrong? They do stick the food in the asshole of the turkey, right?" Yes, Yuka, you are absolutely right. Another time she asked me, "Corie, do you know black people?" "Ummm, yeah? What about them?" I said. "No, no, I mean, do you KNOW them? Like, are they your friends? There are no black people in Japan. Do they really talk like in the movies?"
Back to Nuku Hiva. We got diesel here, but there is no fuel dock where boats can pull up to get diesel, no, no, that would be too easy. We had to fill jerry cans, pass them down into the dinghy off a cement pier about 10 feet above the water, take them back, empty them into the tank in the boat, and go back to the fuel station for more. Fortunately we only made 2 trips, but there were some boats that did many.
I was not particularly enchanted with Taiohae Bay or the little town, although we did get good pizza one night. There were cats running around the restaurant begging for pizza. No lie, they would paw at my chair until I threw a piece of pizza into the grass, they would run and eat it, and then come back to beg again. Cats begging for pizza, go figure.
Yesterday we moved to Daniel's Bay. The entrance is hidden from the water, so you basically head straight for soaring cliffs before you see the entrance to the bay. It is a pretty dramatic place. The cliffs are some 900 feet high in places, with a bright green valley down below. Paddling around in the kayak I found a little wave at the rivermouth, and after some debate as to how sharky it was- rivermouth, murky, warm water, I gave it a "very sharky" on the shark-o-meter. However, I had only surfed once in the past month or more, this being the longest I have gone without surfing since I started when I was 16. So I surfed. It was not particularly enjoyable because I was so scared to see a shark, but it was still nice.
See? This is what happens when I do not write regularly, these things get too damn long. I have not even told you about the epic hike to the waterfall yet. I will try to be brief. Allegedly, this here waterfall at Hakatea bay is the third tallest in the world. Could somebody wikipedia that for me? The book says the hike round trip should take about 3 hours. It took us 3 hours to get to the falls. The hike was nice. At first it felt like walking through botanical gardens- bright green grass and manicured fruit trees, exotic flowers and nice gardens. This was down on the valley floor, where there is a very tiny village (right by the rivermouth I surfed).
After we crossed the river we started getting deeper into the jungle. I was hiking in flip-flops and my feet kept slipping on muddy rocks. At one point I was ankle deep in rotting mangoes. That kind of made mangoes not so appealing. Another time we were crossing the river, which we did about a total of 8 times, I saw an eel! I screamed. I do not like eels. Seeing it, of course, made me nonplussed about crossing the river again and again, let alone swim in the pool at the base of the falls.
As we got closer to the actual waterfall there was a sign that said something to the effect of, "If it is raining do not come into the gorge because rocks will fall on your head and kill you." Well, it has been raining here for weeks, but we decided to take our chances. This was after hours of walking, so we couldn't just turn around. We walked through the gorge with sheer rock cliffs shooting 900 feet up into the sky. The falls are so tall and twisted we couldn't even see the top from the base of the falls. The air was cool and misty, and I tried to keep an eye out for falling rocks and eels, which are difficult to do simultaneously. When we got to the pool we were hot, tired, and covered with mosquito bites (I still am). Dad went for a swim and disappeared under some rocks, but I didn't want to go in because I already saw one eel and didn't want to see another.
Dad came back a few minutes later and said that I had to come see how cool this fall is. Being super brave, I jumped in and the 70 degree water felt freezing!! But refreshing. We swam to the rock pile and I saw how there is a little opening that you squeeze through to get to the big pool where the water comes crashing in. It made a strong breeze and the air was filled with water. Swimming against it to get into the cave freaked me out... the water, the air, the water in the air...the eels... it was scary. We took some pictures, ate some snacks, and headed back down.
The hike back was only 2 hours because we didn't get lost at all, and the way back is always faster. Back in the village a woman stopped us and gave us cold water and bananas right off the stock on her front porch. Tomorrow we are going to go trade for fruit with her.
Ok, that's it! Sorry this is so long and blah blah blah, but I hope you enjoyed!
At 4/29/2011 4:01 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 08°56.67'S 140°09.78'W
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