Day 228, Year 1: Exploring Taiohae Bay
Date: Friday, June 2, 2006
Weather: Blue Skies and Sunshine—Still VERY Warm
Location: Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva Island, Marquesas

We no longer know the air or water temperature, but we know it is very, very warm. On passage we keep track of these things, but once on land, there are so many things to do and somehow checking thermometers is no longer on the radar screen.

Our day started early with me taking Mark over to Windcastle. They were making a run to the fuel dock, so Mark, as well as Bob from Figment and Steve from Oz went along as crew. Everyone took their fuel cans so they could be filled up at the same time. The fuel dock is very high and much easier to access by big boat than by dinghy, so this was a chance for all to get that precious $5.00 per gallon fuel. Since both Windcastle and Windbird needed to hire an agent to secure our bond for French Polynesia, we also get duty free fuel. That lowers the price by $2.00 per gallon, but it is still pretty expensive.

While Mark was getting fuel, I was working furiously to get as many of our pictures as possible organized and labeled and ready to send to the website. There are a couple of internet cafés here and I wanted to take advantage of this. I got the work done, but the connection at the café on the dock was so slow that I was only able to send pictures of the passage from the Galapagos, Fatu Hiva, and Hiva Oa. This is a holiday weekend here, Penecost, and the internet spot on the dock is closed until Tuesday. We’ll be long gone by then, but we are hoping the other internet access might be open in the morning so that I can send the other folders. If not, they will have to wait until Tahiti. I hope that is not the case, but we will just have to see what tomorrow brings.

While sending photos, we were also able to check our “land-based” e-mail account for the first time since we were in the Galapagos. Those of you who send comments to the web go through this e-mail account, so today was the first chance we have had to see what you have been saying. More than one person has asked if it would be possible for us to incorporate photos with our logs, but unfortunately that is just not possible. We send the logs daily from a very low speed HAM radio connection. We can only send pictures when we reach land and can get to a high speed access. I’ll have to talk to our son Justin who manages the site to see if there is anyway to post a few pictures with the logs when we do reach high speed access. If there is a way, we will try it. By the way, internet access out here is very, very slow, and very, very expensive. It cost $36.00 American to be online for the three and a half hours that it took to send a few folders of pictures. I sure hope Tahiti has a faster connection.

We spent what was left of the afternoon touring the town of Taiohae. There is a beautiful building close to the dock that houses art from Marquesan artisans. They have wonderful carvings and beautiful jewelry. The prices are not cheap, but the quality of the work is very good. After visiting here, we walked into town and checked out the grocery stores. We then headed for the Notre Dame Cathedral. This place is truly beautiful. The cathedral’s interior is well known for it’s wonderful wood carvings, especially the carvings of the Stations of the Cross which are the product of local artist Damien Haturau. We have seen his carvings in churches on all of the islands. He depicts biblical figures as Marquesan in a most beautiful way. For instance, in this Cathedral, he depicts Jesus in the Garden of Breadfruit instead of in the Garden of Olives. The Cathedral was built of stone and is magnificent, but the grounds were even more impressive. The landscaping is just spectacular.

Just after the Cathedral, we came to an area on the waterfront where many tikis were made for the Marquesas Islands Festival in 1989. There is a tohua which is a traditional structure with a thatched roof and many tikis that were carved for this event. It makes a lovely waterfront park that locals seem to enjoy.

We walked on to the far end of town where the College of Nuka Hiva was hosting a “bowls” or “pa-tonk” competition. There were hundreds of people all wearing white t-shirts with bright red Coca-Cola lettering-obviously the sponsor of the tournament. We know almost nothing about this game, but see kids here playing it everywhere. You basically roll/toss silver balls about half the size of a bowling ball on an area the size of a shuffleboard court. When I figure out the object of the game, I’ll let you know, but I will tell you that the people here play this with great intensity.

We did not make it to the museum owned by American art collector Rose Corset. If we decide to stay here until Sunday morning, we might be able to get to this. We had hoped to visit the 4:30 AM fresh fruit and vegetable market in the morning, make another quick trip to the Cathedral to see the carved Stations of the Cross, head back into town and make our purchases at the grocery store, AND THEN go back to the boat and head over to the fuel dock in our dinghy to get one more run of fuel before leaving this harbor and heading around to the north side of the island. All of that sounds very ambitious, and we hear that there is some sort of festival in town tomorrow night, so we might not really leave tomorrow. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Whether we leave tomorrow morning or Sunday morning, we will then head to Anaho Bay on the north side of Nuka Hiva. And from there, we will leave for the Tuamotus on Tuesday. But that gives us three more wonderful days in these islands, and we promise to enjoy every moment that we are here.

060603 Day 229 Marquesas, Nuka Hiva–Provisioning, Traditional Dancing