Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peace in Nuku Hiva's Biggest Bay

Irie is peacefully anchored by herself, again, in Anse Hakahaa, the middle and deepest finger of the large Baie du Controleur in southern Nuku Hiva. We are surrounded by green hills and flat water, once in a while disturbed by a manta ray doing a back flip. This happens so quickly that usually all we notice is a big splash in the water. Unlike the dolphins, they only do this once and you never know where another one will follow suit. The only other sounds are of birds, goats or roosters. Yes, it is nice and quiet here.

Peaceful bay of Hakahaa in Baie du Controleur

Life aboard a flat boat!

At the head of the bay is a black beach, where we can land the dinghy, but it is “easier” (= closer) to visit the little town of Taipivai by driving up the river and tying to its concrete dock. To accomplish this feat, one has to wait until it is about high tide, ride the half breaking waves into a short stretch of river bordered by big boulders, get spit out into a brown lagoon without hitting the rock at the mouth, make it to the other side avoiding tree trunks or other debris, follow another stretch of shallow, mucky  river dodging scattered rocks, duck under a black hose carrying water across the river, dock the dinghy, and – important - make sure to be back in time as to not be trapped “inside” for eight hours. It is an adventurous trip, especially with the usual current at the narrow entrance of the river. Heading back into the bay and the incoming waves is always exciting!

Leaving the river and heading back into the bay

Looking back towards land. Where is the river mouth?

During the day, we count on the three hours around high tide, to go for walks. There is a farm close by, Taipivai has grocery stores and an interesting site – where the big Arts Festival of 2011 took place - with relics from the past and tiki reproductions. Every four years, the Marquesan Arts Festival draws thousands of visitors, performers (dancers and drummers), and artisans from all over the region and the world. The next edition (in 2015) will be held in Hiva Oa, but this year – and also every four years in between the real deal – a mini-festival is organized in Ua Huka. Mark and I hope to sail back there for this cultural event in mid-December.

Farm near Taipivai – It has been a long time since we saw one of these!

Reconstructed tiki on the old Arts Festival site

There are unexplored (by us) waterfalls in the area, destinations on our future agenda, when Marks elbow has been healed. We did manage to hike a muddy trail up to the Tiki Paeke archeological site yesterday and to the – even quieter – neighboring bay of Hooumi today. And, no, we don’t really know how to pronounce all these local multi-voweled names correctly, but you will have to get used to them just like us. :-)

Paeke archeological site, with two levels of paepaes (platforms)

Decent size stone tiki in Paeke, near Taipivai

The nights are also quite spectacular, especially when the moon is absent. Above us, we see a super bright Venus and millions of twinkling stars, while underneath us all life becomes lit up and visible. The water in the bay is full of organisms and looks totally unattractive and too dirty for a swim or to cool off during these hot and humid days, but at night it provides us with a lovely form of entertainment – better than TV, or in our case movies on the laptop: our own private light show. Because of the massive amounts of phosphorescence in the water, every movement turns into a shiny, glittery performance. We create shooting stars and fireworks with our own hands, or we watch the fish chase each other like comets and greeting each other with bursts of light.

Cute church of tiny Hooumi

Pretty valleys with pretty rivers (Hooumi)

If the sea would be cleaner, we could stay here longer. And, we will come back here the coming months of our Nuku Hiva stay. There is fresh water onshore for a daily shower, as long as we can deal with the overpowering presence of mosquitoes and nonos (small biting flies). But first, the big city of Taiohae calls. We are basically out of food and need to – urgently – do some research and other things online, so we’ll be off to civilization soon.

Shower time, but hurry, before you are eaten alive by the nasty bugs!

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