Leaving the Marquesas

May 26, 2003, 2:00 p.m.

Tahiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands

(Part 1 of 2; click here for part 2)

We're still here in Nuku Hiva, trying to get through a list of things which must be done before we depart for our passage to the Tuamotu Islands.  The winds are now light and variable, with no sign of the usual trade winds.  If we depart now, we may have a very long passage indeed.  So we're hoping for a bit more wind in the days to come.

View of Ua Pou from Taiohae Bay

Brian with the yellow fin tuna he caught

Mark & Brian, preparing to dive in the green Anaho watersWe said good-bye to Brian, who flew home on Saturday and Sunday.  He and Mark had tried to get in some dives together, before Brian left, but they were somewhat stymied by the conditions.  In Anaho Bay  every afternoon brought a bright green algae bloom, which totally destroyed any clarity the water might otherwise have had.  Then we anchored in Baie de Controlleur, and the water was rather murky because of the surge which came in from the ocean.  As we returned to Tahiohae Bay, preparatory to delivering Brian to the plane, we caught a yellow-fin tuna, which made for a delicious send-off meal for Brian.

Yesterday was Mother's Day (of the French Polynesian sort).  The drummers who have been on shore practicing every night appeared at two venues: one was Saturday night, under a tent on the shore; the other was at the local high class resort/hotel, which put on a Mother's Day luncheon yesterday.  We chose the latter.  The hotel (Keikahanui Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge) is up on the hillside on the west side of the bay, with gorgeous views.  To get to the hotel, we dinghied ashore, landing in the surf, and getting rather wetter than we wanted to.  The beach is full of the pesky no-no flies.  I have actually been rather apprehensive about the no-no's (which seem to be on every shore), because our guide books have said their bite is far worse than a mosquito bite.  ("[Mosquitos are] like flying hypodermic needles, inserting suckers and withdrawing blood with surical precision, while [no-no] chew and tear at flesh to drink the blood, leaving ragged wounds susceptible to infection.")  But I have now been bitten by lots of no-no's and lots of mosquitos, and I find neither is worse than the other.  If you get bitten 50 times on one arm (as I have been), you itch a lot.

Anyway, back to the Mother's Day celebration. The guests were about half local and half tourists or boaters.  The local Marquesan women were dressed up very elegantly in a variety of Polynesian outfits, many with elaborate head dresses made out of flowers and leaves.  Beyond the hotel's dining room is a rock patio, and then a swimming pool with one edge on a precipice.  The dancers used the patio, while small children played in the pool.  The drummers (there were about 10 of them) used tom-toms and hollowed out logs of two different sizes.  Each dance had a different, sometimes rather complex rhythm, but no melodic instruments. 

The first dancers were three girls, perhaps 10 to 12 years old, who introduced us to the typical Marquesan hip thrusting (hula) style of dancing.  They were followed by an older group of young women and a group of young men, looking rather fierce in their pandanus skirts and leg pom-poms. 

On to Part II

Back to the previous report