Day 210, Year 1: Beautiful Fatu Hiva
Date: Monday, May 15, 2006
Weather: Beautiful with Periods of Liquid Sunshine
Location: Hanavave Bay, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

This place really is special. There are only two villages on the island of Fatu Hiva. One is called Omoa and I suppose the village here is called Hanavave. If you didn’t have a GPS to tell you that you had arrived here, you could go right past and never see that there is village here. The anchorage is in a little bay surrounded by tall mountains on all sides. The cliffs rise straight up except at the head of the bay where there is small flat area before the mountains rise. The flat area is the village and the surprising thing to me was that it looks like a small country town with little prefab houses, a church, and a school, also modern construction. There is no traditional housing here. The French subsidize living and most homes have very nice flat screen TV’s with DVD players. Some have washing machines, but the kitchens are still outside as they would have been prior to modern housing. The people are extremely friendly and seem to speak a mix of French and Marquesan and most speak or understand a little English.

I said it feels like being out in the country as the sounds of birds wake you in the morning and little white goats meander on the steep cliffs above us. There is always the smell of a wood fire burning and the vegetation is lush and plentiful. The breadfruit trees look a little like walnut trees and you can hear chickens as they roam about on the mountainside. But when you stand back and look at the unusual rock formations, high craggy mountains, and swaying palm trees, you know you aren’t in West Virginia.

We spent the entire day today cleaning the bottom and sides of the boat. When we arrived yesterday we were warned by others that the bottom of our boat would be thick with gooseneck barnacles that would need to be removed within 24 hours. Otherwise they die and become most problematic to remove. We were also told that the algae growing on the side of the boat would be very hard to clean off. And, oh boy, were they right about this. Mark cleaned the entire bottom with spatula from the galley and I cleaned and waxed one side of the boat. The other side will have to wait until tomorrow.

We didn’t even go into town today during the day, but we did go in for dinner tonight. Felix and Monica aboard Makani had set up a private dinner at someone’s home and invited a few boats to come along. There are no restaurants here, so locals invite cruisers into their homes. It was dark here as we walked through town and there were lighted displays of the Virgin Mary in the front yards of many homes. There was a religious service underway on the side of the street. People here are deeply religious. When we arrived at the house where we would be having dinner, we were asked to remove our shoes before entering the house and were all given flowers to wear behind our ear-left ear if you are married, right ear if you are not. The food served was sticky rice, chicken and pork prepared in small pieces, and raw fish “cooked” in lemon juice and coconut milk served with cooked bananas.. We ate with our fingers in the traditional style. We had pamplemoose (like grapefruit) for dessert and everything was delicious. One of our hosts, a young woman named Julianna, gave all of the female dinner guests black pearls as a souvenir. It was a very quiet and special evening.

Tomorrow we will explore the little village during daylight hours and finish cleaning the boat. Hopefully I will have more time to write a log that better captures the feel of this very special place.

060515 Day 210 Marquesas, Fatu Hiva–Hanavave Village