Monday, October 7, 2013

Explorations around Hapatoni, Tahuata

Teii is a Marquesan man from Tahuata, who lives in Hanatefau Bay, the place where sailboats anchor to visit Hapatoni and surroundings. He lives in a little hut onshore. It is a beautifully located wooden structure with two walls and a roof. The only things inside are his mattress with a mosquito net draped around it, some neatly folded clothes on a shelf and some utensils. He has an outdoor kitchen area, a fire pit and a fresh water spring with an unlimited supply of lovely tasting water. Apart from the hordes of mosquitoes it is a cool place indeed, facing the onshore breeze. “Do you get wet when it rains?” was one of the questions we had for him. He does, but then he just moves further away from the part that gets wet.

One afternoon Teii invited us and some other cruisers over for lunch/dinner. Since he is located on a lee shore with massive boulders bordering the bay, landing the dinghy and ourselves was a wet and slippery affair. But, we made it and he had plenty of fresh water to rinse off. The afternoon was social and pleasant, with tasty local food – fatty pork boiled in salt water and coconut milk, bananas boiled in water and rice. We brought some homemade alcohol and a precious box of wine, which he and his cousin were very happy about. By the time we clambered the rocks back to our dinghy, the sun reached the horizon and the tide had dropped. Waves had been crashing into our little inflatable, which had been pushed back and forth onto the boulders. Not a great scene. The dinghy was half full of seawater, the fuel tank floated upside down and the stern anchor was stuck in the rocks. Luckily, the engine did start and we made it home safely, with our rusty stern anchor. We vowed never to visit Teii this way again.

The following day, the family of SV Iona, and Mark and I put the dinghies at the protected dock of Hapatoni, about ¾ mile south of the anchorage, and walked to Teii’s place through the cute village and over the hill. He was awaiting us and led us to well-hidden petroglyphs in the humid forest.  A big stack of bananas became ours, when he hacked the tree down above the ancient rock. An easy way to get to the fruit! Afterwards, he whacked the tree in pieces with his machete and shoved it into the forest to clean up the mess. Since every banana tree only carries one stack of bananas, this is the way it is done. He joined us into the village, where we met one of his cousins, a traditional dancer and artist. Together we gathered some avocadoes, coconuts, limes, a breadfruit and soursop. The day proved to be another good example of the hospitality and friendliness of the Marquesans, and I got to practice my French.

After a day of rest and boat chores, it was time again for more exercise. Mark, Chris, Katie, Leili and I (Chris’ son Dylan stayed home, tired after all the hiking from the previous days) followed a different rocky road out of town and kept climbing until we reached the crest of a big hill. The views were nice and, despite the heat and the humidity, we all felt good after the effort. Another stack of bananas was retrieved the local way to guarantee our vitamin intake and to replace the pamplemousses and oranges from Hanamoenoa. Once our fruit is finished, we’ll have to head back there!

Irie in the Hanatefau anchorage

Irie facing sunset and the ocean – on a lee shore

Cemetery of Hapatoni village

Church of Hapatoni

A neat path out of Hapatoni village

This landslide recently took place and – unfortunately – colors the bay brown

After a snorkel along the edge of the Hanatefau bay

Tricky landing and dinghy parking to visit Teii

Lunch at Teii´s place: Teii, cousin Mark, Pierre, Liesbet and dog “Mon Chien”

Pierre starts Teii’s grill

Chris, Katie, Leili (on Katie’s back) and Teii before our walk to the petroglyphs

Marquesan petroglyphs in the forest

Ancient spot to mix natural paints and sharpen tools

Katie and Leili visiting Irie for some fresh pretzels

View of Hanatefau Bay and the sailboats from the hike up a hill

One of the roads out of Hapatoni village

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