Every man can transform the world from one of monotony
And drabness to one of excitement and adventure.
|Sunset over bay of verges/vierges (penis/virgins) take your pick|
|Beautiful small valley at end of bay|
|Copra (coconut) drying under shade roof that can be moved over to dry copra in the sun|
|Close-up of copra|
|Small water shrine next to roadway|
|Precious water pool filled with sacred eels|
|Looks like autumn - they are going into their winter here|
|Tree roots growing in the water - white hair-like roots|
The 611 or so people of Fatu Hiva treat us slightly differently than the people of Hiva Oa. More remote from all other islands due to lack of an airstrip for planes to come and go, they are much more independent from the other Marquesan Islands yet dependent on tourism. In Hiva Oa, we were never offered dinners, art, tours, etc we had to seek them. Here depending which valley you go to, and there are only two, the welcome is different. In Hanavave, people are quite pushy with either what they have to offer or what they want to trade with you. In Omoa, they ask you what you are interested to see, buy or trade. Slight difference is quite interesting.
Fatu Hiva is another very rugged island. To go from one town to the other in a straight line would be less than 8km yet the walk is 17km with many switchbacks and steep hills. The summit is at 1,125 meters.
What they are interested in trading are carving tools for the sculptors, brushes to paint tapas, hats, sunglasses, backpacks, flip-flops, earrings for the small girls, hair ties, perfumes, nail polish, fins and snorkeling masks, fish hooks and lines (anything to do with fishing). Of course they also ask for ammunition (.30-.30) and alcohol but we kindly tell them the last two are not an option.
Of note as well is the fact that even though this is a special weekend, none of the women or girls are wearing flowers in their hair like they did in Hiva Oa. The same plants/flowers grow here so I do not understand the significance of this variation between the islands. We did however see many women with monoi (naturally scented coconut oil) in their hair in preparation for Easter Sunday.
|Turn left at the lizard|
|Healthy bee population on these remote islands|
For my birthday we decide to get off the boat for the whole day and hike all the way to the other village, Omoa. What better way to spend a birthday than in the out of doors with a freshly shaven clean lover, enjoying a picnic along the way. The previous day we ran into one of the 'taxis' who could take us there for a mere $150 (choke)! We decline for this price is absolutely outrageous. We leave around 7am and have a fabulous time seeing nearly the whole length of the island. In the four hours that it takes us to hike to town, only a couple of trucks drive by. One gives us a ride for the last 5 minutes it would've taken us to get to town. We didn't have to pay him anything.
|Anchorage seen from lagoon|
|Anchorage seen from way above|
Interestingly enough, the folks from Omoa think the Hanavave valley is too cold for them…
|Verge or Vierge?|
These kids, unlike so many in US and Canada, know the names of all the plants on the island. We finally get to see a corossol, seurette (a sour fruit not quite ready to eat yet), and manioc. We come across an older man carving under a corossol tree and stop to chat. He tells us that French Polynesia, since May 2013, has applied to be part of the United Nations. They are awaiting referendum/vote.
|Yep - they call this plant balls (couilles in French)|
|Alexa and Noella asking for bonbons (candies)|
The only way these artists can sell their work is to sailors who anchor here, to the people on the Paul Gauguin cruise ship which comes twice a year, the people on the Aranui 3 which comes about every 3 weeks but is mostly full of locals, to the people of Hiva Oa or Nuku Hiva, and finally they attend two trade-shows in Tahiti (one just before Christmas and the other 6 months later). They live with very little but they look well and don't seem to be lacking anything. Other than bad teeth from too much sugar the population looks healthy.
We come back from Omoa by boat with an 18 year old who is getting his captain's license at the end of the season. He is raising money to go to Tahiti to take the test. He and his twin brother/sister share many of the island's legends. He also asked if I knew Celine Dion since I told him I was from Québec. He then asked me if I knew her parents. He seemed to have difficulty understanding the concept of me not knowing her or her family personally. Being from an island where he knows the ancestry of each and everyone, it must be quite a step to comprehend our larger world.
|They call them the twins (one female, one male) tiki|
What we would've done different is to purchase fewer fruits in Hiva Oa and buy them here had we known the bigger need for barter and money. Should there be a next time…
|The tiki at anchorage's entrance to town|