Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hakaui: An Amazing Valley in Nuku Hiva

The entrance to Hakatea Bay is very narrow and sometimes tricky, but we picked “our weather” well, which is not too hard to do during the southern hemisphere summer – or better – the calmer dry season. No breaking waves for us, just a big pod of dolphins along the way, and an easy approach into the hidden and comfortable bay. This anchorage is commonly called “Daniel’s Bay”, but Daniel has not lived there for decennia and, actually, has passed away a few years ago.

After an afternoon of rest, a quick morning walk to the neighboring bay and cluster of houses, where we met the friendly Marquesan couple Teiki and Kua, and a tricky dinghy trip through a river into a lagoon (a bit hairier than in Taipivai) during high tide to get 24 gallons of fresh drinking water and to trade for some fruit and avocados, we were ready for an enjoyable evening. Our friends Patrick and Rachel on SV Namaste had arrived in the small bay and – being the only boaters here – we all gathered on shore before dark to make a fire on the beach. We cooked some food, had a couple of drinks and enjoyed a relaxing evening, only to be disturbed by a group of wandering cows, curious crabs and a local man on a horse, making sure we were responsible in regards to the bonfire.

The following day, we packed our lunches, plenty of water and bug repellent and some netting for our adventure in Hakaui valley. The 2-hour walk to Vaipo waterfall (the third biggest in the world) is reputed to be one of the nicest – and most buggy - expeditions in the islands, and after a lot of sweating in the humid climate, we were looking forward to a refreshing dip in the pool. The cliffs of the narrow valley rose up next to us after we passed through the well-maintained gardens and plantations of the 12 or so inhabitants, the vegetation was green and lush and we stumbled upon multiple maerae and other ruins, remnants of a grand Marquesan past.

The straightforward, relatively flat and mostly shady path crossed a few rivers and stopped at the end of the valley. Some water trickled down into a very cold pool and along vertical walls. The main part of the massive waterfall had dried up over the last couple of weeks, a result of the absence of rain. As we expected this, we were not disappointed to miss out on the “big highlight”. The hike had been very nice and the ice cold
water felt good. Our place of rest was bathed in direct sunlight for about an hour, while we swam through some crannies and caves further in. The men tried to catch some fresh water shrimp, but failed miserably. Our bait kept floating to the surface of the pool, feeding the smart creatures that avoided the net, but enjoyed nibbling at our feet.

The narrow gorge was soon in the shade again, and after eating and swimming a bit more, we released the three shrimp that were skillfully captured after an hour of trying. "A" for effort! The hike back to our new friends’ house was pleasant, and felt shorter than before. Patrick managed to trade a few things for fresh lobster, so that night a tasty and special dinner was had on Irie!

Teiki had raved about being a great hunter before and had proved to be a good fisherman already, when he and Kua showed up at Irie the next day. With a big smile and the words “One bullet, one pig!” he hopped on board and handed us two hunks of freshly butchered pork. He had left his house at 4am and returned four hours later with a 100 pound pig, so he said. His hunting dogs had done a great job and it had only cost him one bullet. We shared some stories and let them try our home brewed alcohol. They were as impressed with our fermenting skills as we were with their hunting and farming successes!

On our last day in Hakatea, we climbed one of the hills for a grey view of the two surrounding bays and went for a swim in the warm and murky water. The fridge had been running for days on end – first to preserve the lobsters, then to cool the pork – and needed some servicing. Mark and I had to run other errands as well, so this morning we returned to Taiohae, aka civilization, for a couple of days. We managed to rent some fridge gauges and add gas to the system today, and plan another doctor’s visit, some shopping and more internet tomorrow. Our next destination is Anaho Bay, along the north side of the island. It is proclaimed to be paradise in the Marquesas, and a day sail away.

With the land and beach behind us (see previous picture), this anchorage has all around protection

Cows strolling and resting on the beach at sunset

A local guy told us about cows using their horns to play with dinghies, so we (Patrick) came up with a dinghy fence out of dead wood, before leaving for a long hike! (Photo by Rachel)

Who would have guessed... a phone booth in the middle of nowhere. If only it took coins, I could have called my oma for her 93rd birthday!

Scenery along the beginning of the trail

 Steep cliffs and lush vegetation

Ruins of an old Marquesan settlement, We wondered whether they kept "long pigs" (= humans) in the deep pit before they cooked and ate them...

The end of the lush and pretty valley

Pool at the bottom of the falls

Trying to catch fresh water shrimps for dinner (Photo by Rachel)

Refreshing swim in the gorge and the caves (Photo by Rachel)

What is left of the  > 1000 foot waterfall during the dry season

 One of the river crossings on the way back to the start

Teiki and Kua drying bananas at their house (Photo by Rachel)

Teiki, the fierce looking fisherman, hunter and farmer (Photo by Rachel)

One of our new Marquesan friends' (pregnant) dogs. Her name is Vai (water) and she is extremely sweet! (Photo by Rachel)

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