Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Time of Gifts and Goodbyes

(By email)
Knowing that a weather window to sail to the Tuamotus was available, Mark and I moved on from Ua Pou’s capital Hakahau to another anchorage along the island’s west coast. We would stage from there for the four day trip to the atoll of Apataki, 530 miles SW of Ua Pou.  Irie tucked her nose into the bay of Hakahetau, from where the famous “cathedral” peaks offer a spectacular sight during cloudless days, but, we decided to skip the town and sail onwards. The anchorage of Vaieho looked very peaceful and comfortable. Nobody lives on the shores of this tranquil bay, but the presence of five other sailboats (a lot of the cruising families came from Taiohae, Nuku Hiva to Ua Pou this week, because their kids had off from school) encouraged us further south.
Hakahetau Bay

Our destination was the remote village of Hakamaii, beckoning from a tiny valley. We dropped anchor in the clearest water we have seen in the Marquesas (I saw the bottom in 33 feet of water) and were satisfied with the picturesque surroundings of this small bay. Only then, did we read in a few cruising guides about Ua Pou’s anchorages. We learned that most boats prefer Vaieho and that barely anyone stops here, because it is usually too rolly. Mark and I were in luck, however, since the weather has been very benign with little wind and hardly any swell. Taking the dinghy to shore was another adventure… There is no breakwater, no beach and no dock. We took the engine off – required for the passage to the Tuamotus anyway – and rowed ashore. There, some nice person usually greeted us and helped us pull our little boat out of the foamy water and onto the rocks. An action that was one time wetter than another…
The village of Hakamaii

Other than the peaceful and pretty location, the draw of this village is the friendliness of the people. Yesterday, we were invited into one house for some coffee and a whole bunch of food was put on the table. We had just eaten breakfast, however. The friendly lady of the house gave us a baguette she had picked up in another village earlier and wasn’t happy until we left with a bag full of ripe mangoes. At another place, we traded a water toy we had no use for on Irie, for a wheelbarrow and bags full of fruit: two stacks of bananas, pamplemousses, limes, and papayas. We hope it doesn’t all ripen at once, because we would like to provide some of the islanders in the Tuamotus with these goodies, which are unavailable there. While I write this, the local kids are laughing and playing in the water with the toy. On the way back to the dinghy, another family offered us the use of their internet so we could check the weather and emails for a last time.
The necessary vitamins for the sail trip and upon arrival in the Tuamotus

Today, during a little walk on shore to take pictures (I forgot my camera yesterday), we were offered some breadfruit and more mangoes. When we learned that Eric, this friendly Marquesan offering the fruit, was a stone sculpture, we followed him to his main house to see his art. He uses the local “flower stones” (which can be found on one certain beach in Ua Pou) to create animals and objects of different sizes. The big ones were amazingly made and unaffordable. Out of nowhere, he decided to give us a small turtle as a gift, and later – when we temporarily split up – he handed me a small pestle made of the same kind of stone as well. To top it up, he wanted us to come back and pick up some freshly caught goat and peppers as well, after our walk. Such hospitality and generosity is very humbling and rare in our western world! We invited him over to Irie to repay our respects and offer him a few gifts, before we finished up preparing the boat for another big journey tomorrow. There couldn’t have been a better place to end our stay in the Marquesas and say goodbye to its unique inhabitants and scenery.
View of Ua Pou along the north shore

Obelisk in the water at Vaieho Bay. From afar it looks like a tiki!

Our first sunset in a long time! The joy of being anchored on the west side of an island.

Yes, the pamplemousses (grapefruit) are big here!

Cleaning Irie’s bottom once more. Every week!

Fishermen from Hakamaii in an outrigger canoe

The river in Hakamaii, dividing the village in two

Temple in Hakamaii

Irie in Hakamaii Bay

Ready to launch the dinghy again?

No comments: