Friday, April 25, 2014

Back on Land – for a Short Stay

The coastline is rugged with few beaches. The mountain
drops into the sea and the anchorages are deep.
The landscape is interesting
throughout the island.
Hiva Oa was a welcome sight after 21 days at sea. It was a little surprising to see the island as it did not fit my mental image of the South Pacific Islands. Most of the tour literature shows beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise water and palm trees. What they don’t show is that most of these islands are very old dormant volcanoes that rise straight up out of the sea. Where there are beaches, the sand is black from the volcanic rock and coral. Since the coral lives in reefs, there are not many coral reefs due to the deep water off the islands.
John loves his FORD!

One of the rugged trails we hiked to see Tikis.
However, these islands are lusher and green than most of the islands in the Caribbean. There is an abundance of fruits growing on trees and root vegetables growing wherever they can take root in this harsh ground. The jungles are dense and very healthy with giant plants everywhere. It is truly awesome to look at some of the vistas before my eyes. And the view changes with every turn.
She is the Goddess protecting
the fishing fleet, but she is
hidden away in the jungle several
miles from the sea.

We had a wonderful – but rugged – tour with Marie Jo’s husband, John. He drives a 2008 extended cab Ford pickup and is very proud that it still has the original brakes after 100,000+ miles on them. That is pretty amazing considering the rough roads he drives on tours every day; he only changes the tires regularly. Ford should interview this guy as it would be a great ad! The truck bed has benches on each side and a canopy top for the passengers who ride there. Our crew tells me it was a really rough ride! I was given the front seat and based on my experience it must have been rough because mine was not exactly comfortable either.

A collection of Tikis are found in this location where
they are being preserved and maintained.

It has nothing to do with the vehicles. It is the roads. The infrastructure of these islands is a step above primitive. Some of the roads are impassable during the rainy season. And when you look at the changes in elevation, you wonder how they were even capable of building the roads. They literally hang on the sides of the mountains. Rough or not, we had some of the most breathtaking views in the world.
One of the few beaches. As you can see it is not
the beautiful white sand we expected in French Polynesia!
We also saw ancient Tikis and ate native foods on the tour. We walked in the jungle to find the Tiki protecting the fishing fleets of long ago. A stop at a beach and many stops with different vistas at various elevations showed us how beautiful the volcanic island really is.
A typical Marquesan lunch meal.

Part of the tour included a lunch stop for a typical Marquesan meal of goat, pork, breadfruit, mango, and rice. There were some tapioca type dishes, too. Of course, the beverage choice was Hinano beer or a watered down juice from some fruit. I wasn’t anticipating it to be as good as it was.

The taro plant leaves were the size of elephant ears. Coconut palms grow everywhere, as well as breadfruit. I have yet to cook with breadfruit, but have eaten it prepared several different ways. The favorite is breadfruit frites (as in French fries). It has to be boiled for 20 minutes, then cut into sticks and fried in oil. I don’t know if you peel it before or after boiling.

The Fruit Lady
People tie their horses and cows along the edge of the road to graze all day. The goats run free, but are all owned by someone. The chickens are wild and it is hard to find eggs in the store because people have their own chickens so no one raises chickens to sell eggs.

Since all of the trees are owned by someone, you don’t help yourself to the fruits. Individuals have fruit stands – more like tables – set up wherever people might pass by and stop. I ordered specific items from the fruit lady at the anchorage so she had it available when we were ready to head off to the next island. See – I am figuring out how to make life easier as I go!

We have to carry the dinghy up out of the water so the
tide does not take it while we are on land. The dinghy          
dock was too dangerous to leave it unattended.

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