Friday, May 9, 2014

Exploring the Marquesas Islands: Fatu-Hiva

The shape of the mountain gave it its first name!
We weighed our anchor and set sail for Fatu-Hiva where we were to hike to the second longest waterfall in the world. This is the southern-most island in the Marquesas and one of the least populated. It is a very high island with a mountain chain forming the backbone of the island. There are only two bays which are located on the west coast. Since it is a steep mountain, these bays are the only place to anchor in relatively shallow water.

This was a deep anchorage with no beach.
We anchored in the Baie Hanavave or Bay of Virgins as it is called. This island has an interesting history – or at least the guidebook stories – about its name. Due to the shape of the volcanic rock formations, it was known as the Isle Penises. However, the missionaries did not approve of that name and changed the spelling so it is the Bay of Virgins.
There was a small landing at the base of the village.
We took a dinghy to shore and walked through the village which consists of a church, a school and an infirmary. Like many of the islands, they also have a single pay telephone booth! As you walk up the road along the river, you see the homes of the local people with their mango, avocado, breadfruit and pamplemousse (grapefruit) trees in their yards. Oh, how I wanted to pick some of those!

The waterfall was breathtaking!
There is only one road from the
bay through the town up to
the mountain and waterfall.
Since I am not much of a hiker or trail climber, I hesitantly went along on a 1.5-2 hour hike way up the mountain to see the waterfall. It was a physical challenge especially in the heat and humidity, as I am still not loving the heat. There were times when I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the top, but with the help of Dennis, Tony and Tom, I managed to do it.
I didn't even care that my clothes
were wet! I finally cooled off!!!
The trail was rocky and slippery and only marked with little stone markers. The shade was nice in the jungle and the sound of the river and waterfall was peaceful. There are flowering trees everywhere in these islands so it is not unusual to see orchids lying on the ground and blossoms of many varieties blown from the trees. This is why the Polynesian women always have flowers in their hair – flowers are everywhere and go wild.

Looking up from underneath
the waterfall. It was refreshing!
Not sure what the occasion was, but there was something
religious going on in the village.
Once we finally got to the waterfall, it was breath-taking! We swam in the fresh water pool in our clothes to cool off. That alone was worth the climb! It was the first time in a long time that my body temperature had cooled off to a chill and I loved it.
The trip down was easier and seemed shorter. When we arrived in the village, we met up with a procession of priests and people going from house to house and singing. We were not sure what was going on and couldn’t think of any holy day that might be being celebrated. We respectfully waited until they had passed us before returning to the dock and boat.

1 comment:

  1. Loving your Blog... The mountains of Fatu Hiva reminds me of living in Kaneohe, HI, where the Koolau Mts steep slopes fell down practically into my backyard. Fair winds!!!


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