15 May 2010 | Hiva Oa
On Wednesday, we pulled into the anchorage and Atuono on Hiva Oa. Atuono is a fairly large city compared to what we’ve seen. They actually have wifi in the anchorage, but it’s $5 per hour, so we passed on it. The anchorage was pretty crowded and due to the swell and wind constantly changing, we had to throw a bow and stern anchor to lock us in place. Everyone is anchored this way, so you can imagine it’s pretty difficult to navigate and position yourself between all the boats and anchors. We did a pretty good job and then it was time to dive on the anchors to make sure they were holding. It was a little nerve wrecking diving on the anchors because the water clarity is terrible and all that you here about these anchorages is that people see large sharks. Anyway, I was able to fight off the hyperventilation and eventually pulled myself into the complete darkness 30 feet down and was able to feel that both anchors were good. We made it into town and found out that the entire city shuts down at 4pm. We had just enough time to test the ice cream our first since the Galapagos and it was great. I think Diego had three. We all agreed that it wasn’t as good as the Galapagos, but it was still ice cream. We bumped into the French guy, Oliver, who is doing the carbon free bike/sail around the world. We met him in panama and it was great to see him. The city had a few shops most of which were closed, but it was very clean, tons of flowers like the other marquesen cities we had visited, and there were some really nice cars. We saw some brand new H2’s and that was pretty weird. That night, we cooked up some breadfruit with Oliver on the boat. Thursday, we reanchored to get some more space and then called a woman who does laundry and allows you to use wifi at her house. We spent a few hours getting caught up on emails, etc. After 4 weeks, it was almost internet overload, but we survived. We bought some phone cards which are only sold at the post office and were able to call back and let our families know we were alive. We then got some great baguettes and pate which are both subsidized by the French government and sat did some people watching. We tried canned corned beef and it tasted great as well. I think it’s just a nice change from the canned chicken and fish that we’d been living off of. The anchorage is a bit of a hike from the city (almost 2 miles), so we tried to hitchhike and surprisingly had very little luck. Well, we probably look like a bunch of unshaven hooligans, but it’s usually pretty easy to hitchhike on an island and we ended up walking the entire way. We later found out that it’s a huge fine to sit in the back of the trucks and most of the cars that passed us were full. That night, we had some friends from the Brazilian research boat Fraternidade over for some drinks. The highlight on Friday was the town festival which turned out to be an island beauty pageant. The entire island was crowded into the gym and then, just like you’d see on Miss America, the girls first came out in traditional island clothing and everyone cheered for their favorite. There were judges in the front and the stage area in front of the judges was surrounded by flowers. The girls went backstage and then there was some traditional dancing by other groups. There were some girls that couldn’t have been older than five that came out and did a funny little dance, then a group of guys with a lot of fist pounding and loud drums. There was even a group of big older women that came out and did a whole bunch of booty shakin’ which got a lot of laughs out of the crowd. Eventually the girls paraded out in formal wear, swimsuits, and danced with some guys. There was a clear favorite that got nearly all the cheers from the beginning and after announcing the first and second runners up, was crowned the winner. On Saturday, we picked up anchor and sailed for an anchorage on the north side of the island. We had to beat into 25 knot winds, but eventually made it at dusk. Sunday morning, I woke up early and saw some goats on the shore. Our friends from Fraternidade had been on a goat hunt and we had heard that it hunting wild goats was fine on the islands. I started formulating a plan to catch one and as soon as Alex and Diego woke up we decided to go for it. It wasn’t a great beach for landing a dinghy we had to surf in and then jump out and drag the dinghy up the beach prior to getting swept away by another wave. There was only one other boat in the anchorage and when we got to shore we found out it was William Piquet another boat of 3 guys in their late twenties from the DC area who we know. They had dinner with the family who had the only little shack in the valley the night before. The family used it was their weekend getaway and had left that morning to head back home, so we had the place to ourselves. There was a freshwater spring coming right out of the side of the mountain with a little pool like something out of Hollywood. It was surrounded by coconut and lime trees and, in typical Polynesian fashion, tons of flowers. You could lay in the shade and just drink right from the spring whenever you got thirsty. Apparently, there was a pretty large city in the valley, but a huge tsunami hit in the 40s and destroyed the entire city and it was never rebuilt. We talked to William Piquet and they had the same idea about going after a goat with 6 guys we thought we might be able to get at least one. Just then, a boat of local guys came to shore for a picnic and we spoke to them about the goats. They spoke good English and kind of laughed when we told them the idea. They owned half of the valley, and said it’d be fine if we tried for one, but when I told them we could all share it the guy laughed and said he’d come back next week and see if we had one yet. The goats were right along the shore, so we set off to try to surround one. Our original plan turned to chaos and I’m not sure if it was beginners luck or if we are just that good, but we cornered a few and they ran into each other and Alex was able to jump and grab a leg. We walked back 10 minutes later with a goat and the locals couldn’t believe that we got it. That night we had a huge goat feast and it tasted great. On Monday, we decided to relax at the same anchorage and William Piquet sailed off. We decided to see if the three of us could catch a chicken. We set up a bit of a trap where we had seen a few earlier in the day. We came back a few hours later and somehow cornered one and had fresh chicken for lunch. I highly doubt that we could catch either a goat or a chicken again even if we had a week, but we did it once and that was enough. We picked up anchor for an overnight passage to Ua Pou. We’re having problems with our internet connection, but we’re trying to get these blogs out more often.