Friday, November 8, 2013

The Scoop in Taiohae

Mark and I have been in “the capital” (of the Marquesas) for almost two weeks now and most of that time has been spent online. Stuff on the internet to-do-lists accumulates over the months and slowly but surely we are ticking some items off, like health insurance and boat insurance dealings, sending full size pictures and articles for writing assignments, making the layout of the previous blog posts a bit better :-), research for boat and other  reasons, necessary behind the scenes work for the Wirie, and so on. Trying to shake off that zombie feeling you get from sitting hours behind the computer, we went ashore frequently to take care of some doctor, pharmacy, hardware store and supermarket visits. The town of Taiohae is very spread out, so it takes a while to walk to some of the shops, but the locals are very friendly, offering rides when they see a protruding thumb along the side of the road.

The hardware store was a bit of a disappointment and the bank machine only gave out bills of 10.000 francs ($110) – which they refused to change in the adjacent bank for smaller bills without the receipt (which Mark never asks for since it is a waste of paper) - but other than that, you can find quite a bit here, non-cruising related. For necessary boat parts, hiking shoes and Tevas, we will have to wait another six months until we reach Tahiti. Maybe… There is a cool church, and some tiki sites, and a walk along the big bay is pleasant, but hot. The anchorage is on the bottom of a collapsed volcano, so the surrounding “wall” (= jagged hills) is quite picturesque.

The rumors of sharks are true. Apparently, the bay is “filled with hammerhead sharks”, which we have not seen yet. But, presence of the grey shark is a fact. Every time the fishermen get back to the dock and clean their catch, they toss the unwanted fish parts over the side, into the bay, where tons of hungry six foot sharks, violently snatch them up. Once, Mark and I just arrived ashore in our dinghy when that happened. The trashing of the grey beasts created waves in the water and the splashing with their tails got us soaking wet! We try to take quick showers and avoid the seawater when we are bleeding. We did dare to be in for an hour or so on a clearer day, because Irie’s bottom really needed scraping and cleaning. Since the sharks get fed daily, they shouldn’t be hungry outside of their meal times, right?

Just like in the good old Caribbean days, we do take it easier on the weekends and try to have some fun. Last weekend, the guys – and girls – from SV Iona joined us for a walk to the “Sentinels”. It was good exercise to climb the well-kept and nice trail up a hill and the view was worthwhile. On the way back, we saw the cemetery lit with candles and filled with singing voices. The celebration of the dead had just finished by the time we arrived down there.

Every evening during the week, a local group is practicing their singing, drumming and dancing skills for the festival coming up in mid-December. It promises to be a fun and spectacular cultural event. We still hope to make it back to Ua Huka for that. There are a few restaurants around, but so far, we have only tried the yummy and relatively affordable food at “the snack” closest to the dock. A decent plate of poisson cru (raw fish cooked in lemon juice with some veggies) with rice and avocado costs about $5.50. A visit to the fancy restaurant is still on the agenda!

City hall in Taiohae

Beach right off town, close to the shark feeding "platform"

Tiki site - site of one of the first Marquesas Art Festivals

What do we have here... a big grey shark!

 You don't want to go swimming here!!!

View of the Sentinells, with Ua Pou in the distance

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