This is the 11th post of a trip to Tahiti, which started on May 10/2022 (here)
Day 5 -(Wednsday) - Aranui Cruise to the Marquesses
Ua Pou (Hakahau) - "Two Pillars" 3rd Stop
Following a very early breakfast, and while the crew was busy unloading supplies of cement and sugar, and then uploading bags of Coprah (dried coconut) and fruit, our day started with an early morning hike of about 40 minutes up a steep hill, toward the Cross on top of it, on the third largest island of the northern Marquesas, situated about.50 km (south of Nuku Hiva)
Disembarking in Hakahau
The Eastern side of this second Marquesas Island, though much drier, came in full view from where the ship docked, while the beautiful sea waters and the shore's cove on the other side, contrasted it.
Apparently this six valleys island is greener and more tropical on its Western side due to the wind and rain visiting upon it from the West
The center of the island is characterized by 4 high basalt pillars that reach high
above the surrounding mountains.
They are part of the Marquesas linear volcanic chain, which formed from this one hot spot on the Pacific Plate, and is moving WNW at a rate of 103-118 mm per year.
The highest of these pillars, Mount Oave (Mont Oave), reaches to 1,230 m above sea level, and is the highest elevation in the Marquesas.
These mountainous tall monoliths that are often covered with clouds, like today, are unique, as they are the original magma's shooting shafts, turning to pointy straight rocks.
It is the most densely populated island of the archipelago. with a population of 2000. residing in 2 main villages, each on the opposite side of the island.
The majority are in the main village Hakahau located in the northeast of the island where the on-shore larger ship dock is situated and is also close to the one lane narrow
The walk from the ship's dock along the back to the village's Art center, is most enjoyable.
The population is known for the innate artistic qualities of artisans, sculptors and tattoo artists, as well as traditional singers and dancers.
The Matava'a festival is held periodically and is an important center of Marquesas culture.
Congregating at the Art Center
It seemed that besides the island’s talented sculptors and artists, the entire village congregated ,at the center of wooden art work in a welcoming receptions for the disembarking tourists.
The entertainment of the Marquesas music and dance , including the traditional
Bird Dance was specially performed. The hypnotizing effect of the drum beat, definitely mesmerized the visitors, who stayed hostage in place, and who kept shopping for art much longer than usually intended.
The two baby Goats (one week old) who lost their mother at birth, were also brought
to the welcoming celebration, at the Art Center
As were the small wondering children
Visiting the Municipality
One of the ship's staffer arranged for us - few English speakers, a special tour of the island’s municipality building, where beautiful wooden carving of Tikis from also the other Marquesas islands, were on display.
Inside the Municipality Building
Lunch at the village’s Restaurant “Chez Tata Rosalie”
Another Marquesas "umu" buffet lunch consisting of bread-fruit, a curred goat
(a specialty of the Marquesas Islands), raw fish marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk, taro and red bananas was served. .
Exploring the Island by 4x4
The 4x4 optional activity ride (2 hours) in the afternoon to the dry western part of the island , was both pricey and wasn't properly accommodated, for the English speaking group, although the views were most intriguing.
The views on the way, included several turquoise water bays, black pebble beaches, roaming horses and the narrow one air lane strip,
With the start of corona, direct flights in and out of the island stopped and the residents were left with no transportation solutions in-case emergency evacuation was needed,
A boat ride to the closest island from which flights to the mainland operates, takes almost 3 hours, not a good solution in case an emergency.
The protest of the inhabitants forced the Polynesian Gov to supply the island with 2 helicopters to transport people in and out.
Since we hiked in the morning at the arid side of the island, it would have been nicer
to have the special tour, in the afternoon, take us to the island's more tropical side,
At the second village of Hakatao.
Hakatao - the second village visited, is more lush due to the many fruit trees planted.
It is a quint place surrounded by massive rocks by the beach,
At the village's welcoming center, the entire "special activity" group which took the afternoon 4x4 special ride, and consisted of a French majority, was addressed only in French, and for an extended time.
No translation was offered which.. was a waste of time for us - the English speakers,
Our time could have been used much better if the request (which was denied) to use the time for a short swim, would have been granted. We were left with a taste of a big miss
On the way back to the ship that afternoon, the "Catch of the day" was on display
Back to the ship
The "Happy hour" drinks, the Polynesian buffet dinner around the pool, and especially the heavenly French dessert , which I had to "work down" after, by mass dancing, was a great finale to otherwise, another long exciting day, on this special voyage.
To be continued....
To be continued....