Apr 21, 2014

Hiva Oa - Week Leading to Easter

One doesn't discover new lands without consenting 
To lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Andre Gide 

From mountain to sea
We had heard of delicious handmade banana beignets, impossible to find in stores or restaurants, only at people's homes. I inquired and managed to order some from Iris (many natives use Europeanized first names), who said she would bring some the next morning.

Next morning, she unfortunately doesn't have them stating the whole island is without eggs. Disappointed and now hungry having kept my appetite for this special occasion, I wondered how that could be possible since a) the supply ship just left less than a week ago and b) there are chickens all over the island? It then dawned on me that most eggs were turned into Easter eggs… but then we saw eggs for sale at the various stores so... Many people do not know how to, or think they can, say no. They feel it is better to have an 'excuse' or a story; most Mexicans do the same thing, especially when trying to satisfy clear (a new expression to us here) skin people. We had another instance of a missed delivery: promised grapefruits that never showed up. You need backups and plan B's when you travel here. It is ok, we understand.

Can't resist banyan trees
Banana plantation
After several days of serious hiking we seem to have our land legs back. Our last hike on Hiva Oa was up river towards the end of the Atuona Valley. We crept higher and higher via switchbacks to a point where we could glimpse the valley and bay below yet see and feel clouds forming just above our heads. Mount Temetiu can be clear one minute and then right in front of your eyes, like magic, as the moist air going up the valley hits the cooler area near the summit, a cloud forms rapidly. In a whole week of being here, we have only seen a cloud-free mountain top once, and for a very brief moment!

Baby coconut trees
We managed to meander through 80-100 feet tall coconut trees, a quiet ancient grove, its lower canopy filled with banana trees. Playful and curious goats seek us as we pass by. Other than bird calls, the valley is very quiet.

Healthy bee population - heavily studied and prized
The previous day, we followed a river up another valley. It was very muddy and bushy, not a well used road. We crossed the river before finally finding reported petroglyphs in that area. Vanilla orchids climb up many of the old trees around. Very large leafy plants seem to announce very wet areas all around. Another peaceful hike.

Tehueto petroglyphs
For size, I'm in the background
Returning to town we try yet new fruits: quesnelles (they taste a lot like rombutan but their flesh is pink instead of cream, their skin smooth and green rather than spiky and red) and corossol (very similar to yaka in Mexico, possibly same). The natives are very proud of their many varieties of fruits.

Elephant ear - big enough to be an umbrella
Back at anchor until our next adventure we joke that we need to change the name of the boat to Musique, the French version. Our neighbors while having cocktails in the cockpit were suddenly drenched by a large shark attacking small fish nearby. We had heard of the possibility of sharks but yet to see proof. On another vessel, while up the mast, a fellow crew member observes a very large ray. The water is so murky it is very difficult to differentiate what is below us.

My beautiful pareo - thank you Moea
I purchase a beautiful hand painted batik pareo from a lady originally from the Tuomatus. She gets her inspiration from Gauguin: A woman eating a mango, a representation of abundance and fertility says the artist. I think it befits a part of the island's history. I comment on the flower 'wreath' the person I purchase from is wearing, asking how long it takes to make one. Her reply was that she didn't make it, her daughter did. Really adept women take about 1 hour to make them. She then told me, with a wink, hers was made of fake flowers and that she uses it only as a spare/backup to cover her gray hair! Some of these natural wreaths are hung from the mirrors of trucks and cars when they are too old to show off in hair. I admire a bracelet some other artist is wearing. She explains it is made of carved wild boar tusk which has the natural curve to fit around the wrist. It is very cleverly carved.

Night celebration - All Saints Day
We finally get to see the Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel Cultural Centers but more on that in another post.

We notice many more of the posts supporting verandas are wrapped with palm leaves. It is in honor of Palm Sunday and Easter. At home we used to just weave small cone like shapes with palm leaves, a much smaller version of decorating with palm.

Freshly woven palm leaves around veranda post
Two locals have remarked that the winds/weather will change by the end of April and that now is a good time to head out. Rainy season should be upon us soon. When we arrived there were 22 boats in the anchorage, 15 when we left. We were part of the first wave of arrivals. The highest number of boats arrives in July. We met the Paul Gauguin cruise ship on our way out. This ship visits the island only twice a year. Good time to depart and let other tourists roam this beautiful island.

Horses often tied to side of road for weed/grass control
Moon over Mount Temetiu
Rare occasion when mountain top is clear

No comments:

Post a Comment

We are always happy to hear from you but at times it may take a while to get a reply - all depends if we have access to the internet.