Fatu Hiva


06 May 2010

For the past few days, we’ve been running around Fatu Hiva getting as much done as possible. On Friday morning, we headed up to a big waterfall just outside of the little town we are anchored at. After a little hike through the forest, we made it to what must have been a 100 ft waterfall (probably more). We were able to climb up one side and jump into the freshwater pool…nothing too crazy, but it was a good jump.

On the hike, I was talking to a cruiser from Canada (Revelstoke, BC) who is a mountain guide during the winters and a big time fisherman. He went out fishing with a local guy the day before and had caught a 100 lb wahoo and two other big tuna. After the hike, he brought me to the guys house and through my terrible broken French we made plans to go fishing the next morning with him.

Later that day, a little cruise ship (looked more like a cargo ship) came into the harbor. For the most part, cruisers are a pretty cheap group…everyone is pretty much on at least a two year trip and trying to make their money last. However, the locals know the people on cruise ships are ready to spend money. The town puts on a show with a dance and all of the artists are out with their carvings. The drummers and dancers were great, but it kind of took away from the exotic feel of the island with all the other real tourists around (there were a whole bunch of old ladies that really looked like the queen of England with their huge hats and pale skin). Lot of big cameras, bright white sunblocked noses, and extreme hiking sandals.

That night, we had a little party on the boat of some cruisers from North Carolina that we’ve become pretty good friends with. Everyone brought over some appetizers and I think everyone cooked extra because they knew we were coming. They weren’t interested in leftovers, and we can eat, so it worked out well. We of course brought naan pizzas and probably ended up eating over half of them, but everyone liked them.

Saturday, we woke up to meet our fishing guide and apparently he had left 5 hours earlier…we’re still not sure what was going on there. We later found out from a friend that did make the trip that the weather was terrible and they didn’t catch anything. So although we were a bit upset at first, it was probably for the best that we didn’t make it. Instead, we took our dinghy over to the bigger town on the island, Ua Mau. Our friend Liz from Secret Agent Man (sweet boat name) came over with us. It was a long dinghy ride and the swell made getting the dinghy into the anchorage pretty hairy..there were huge waves crashing on rocks that we had to avoid.

We walked into town looking to buy some baguettes for Secret Agent Man (Eric from Seattle) and they were unfortunately out (they actually had two nice shops in town with candy so thankfully we didn’t have any francs yet to waste). There was a big sculpture in town that we read about, so we started asking people if they knew where it was. We met a guy young guy named Raina who walked us up the trail and ended up being our guide for the entire day. He only spoke French, but we were able to get buy. Walking through the woods, he pointed out all the awesome fruit trees and then the carvings. We spent the next few hours walking around town and pretty much just getting gifts from everyone. When everything was said and done, we had picked wild pistaches (like a big tart cherry), custard apple, and pumplemoose. There was also a super old guy way up in the woods chopping up coconuts who we hung out with for a bit and he grabbed a few coconuts and opened them so we could drink the milk. We met different people in town that gave us mangos, papaya, some weird things that looked like limes (but were more like apples),a big bottle of honey, and some bananas. He then brought us to the river to swim around and gave us a bottle of some type of sandalwood oil that he kind of used like soap. He then took the sarong that Liz had a caught us these little crayfish under the rocks and tore the tails off for us to eat. On the walk back to the boat, each one of us had our arms full with things we’d been given. We stopped at one of the shops which was closed, but he got the woman to open it. He walked in and grabbed some chocolate croissants and gave them to us. The croissants were amazing. Then this old guy, Joseph, who must have been the shop owner, grabbed us and we followed him back to his garage. Half of the garage was the town bakery with all the ovens for the baguettes and the other half was his carving area. He had all of these amazing carved drums, one of which had steps up the back of it and a platform to play it from. He pulled out a few drums and then acted like the conductor (like in a marching band the person in the front directing the music tempo). It was a pretty funny scene, this old marquesan guy in just shorts hiked way up his with his big belly hanging out bouncing around pumping his fists, stomping his feet, and grunting for us to hit the drums. He was a super friendly old guy and spent the next hour explaining the carvings all around the large drum which was the history of the marquesan people and also his family. It was pretty interesting and since he only spoke French and knew we didn’t understand, he acted out most of it and used Raina as a prop. We think he was trying to explain how they made fire, but for some reason kept turning around and then him and Raina would kind of bend over and rub their butts together…super bizarre but really funny. We later realized that the carvings on the islands are back to back with their butts touching, although we’re still not sure why. He also explained that their history states that they came from south America and not from the west…which is interesting because most people think they island hopped from Asia. Since Diego is from the Galapagos, he kept saying that they were related. Before we left, he gave us all huge bear hugs that lasted like 30 seconds. We finally made it back to the boat with all of our stuff (one last stop for Raina to grab us each a necklace made from shells) and were pretty worried because the waves had gotten bigger. We thought Raina would want us to pay him, but he wouldn’t take anything. He even launched our dinghy for us into these huge waves that I honestly thought would pull him under.

On the way back, we caught a nice little mackerel for dinner and then gave away a ton of fruit to the other boaters because there was way too much for us. That night, we had a guy from Wales on the boat for some drinks and then headed to a little birthday party for a girl from Seattle on another boat…quite an epic day.

On Sunday, we made it in for the church service. It was a catholic church and it was in the local marquesan language. Although we couldn’t understand, it was a cool experience…they really belt it out when they sing. Pretty much a normal service, but the priest stood with his back to us during the eucharist and there was no hand shaking. After communion, I went to the back to get a picture and ended up being right where the greeter stands, so everyone just started shaking my hand…which was kind of funny.

After mass, we headed back to the boat and one of our buddies, Roger from Wales, swung by to have a look at the boat and help us with our windvane. He ended up sticking around for over an hour and gave us some great tips for the boat and how to get more speed out of it. He also explained the proper technique for deploying the whisker pole which seriously may have saved one of our lives (the way we were doing it was not safe).

Around 1pm, the entire town gathers for a picnic. Everyone is playing volleyball (they can play) or dancing or drumming. One of the cruisers had a Frisbee, so there was a big game of ultimate. It was almost like playing in a stadium because you have these 1000 ft cliffs on each side of the field. After that, we got a big soccer game going which tired us all out. Some of the boaters had for all you can eat deal with one of the locals, and since we had already eaten, I asked if we could get a deal on the leftovers. That night, we went and had a huge meal of goat, sushi, breadfruit, and a ton of other local food…it was great and we got our monies worth. A young guy from Vancouver, Mark, joined us and since he had been a commercial tuna fisherman, gave us some good pointers on catching tuna.

On Monday, we did some work on the boat and tried to troubleshoot our modem issues. Alex helped one of our friends with replacing the main halyard on his boat and spent around 2 hours on the top of a 75 ft mast. They gave us some swordfish and tuna for helping them out.

The guy who was supposed to bring us fishing was also a carver and had this great tiki that I wanted to buy from him. It was a bit much and since we didn’t exchange money yet, I had to try to bargain with him for some of the things we had on board. He ran a tough bargain and after probably an hour of going back and forth and arguing with his wife, I got a price I could afford. We finished the day jumping from some cliffs with some Norwegian girls we had met right near the anchorage.

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