Thursday, May 27, 2004

Daniel’s Bay through Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

May 7th – May 27th

On Friday May 7th we pulled anchor for a day sail over to Daniel’s Bay, Nuka Hiva.

Daniel's Bay (Nuka Hiva)

Have I mentioned how beautiful the Marquesas landscapes are???  Daniel’s Bay is completely surrounded by high rising cliffs of black and green that are populated with palm trees galore. The mountainous protection provided a very calm anchorage, but also blocked out any strong breezes, which meant that for the first time mosquitoes and no-nos could come aboard!  But for all the bug bites I came away with (and we aren’t talking small quantities here) I wouldn’t have missed Daniel’s Bay.

Taiohae Bay Photos below
Saturday we joined Emerald and Bobulona for another fantastic waterfall hike.  We came ashore near Daniel’s house (new house that is, as Survivor built him the new house in order to bulldoze his old house and use the location for one of the tribes).  Daniel and a friend enthusiastically greeted us.  Daniel has a very witty sense of humor and a smile that reaches ear to ear!  He pointed us towards the waterfall and told us to stop by again on our return.  The hike led us through an enchanted forest, where any minute you expected the trees to get up and start walking.  We compared much of the scenery to that seen in Lord of the Rings. The entire place seemed mystical, magical, and spiritual.  It wasn’t as easy to get to the base of the waters (as at Fatu Hiva or Oa Pou), requiring us to cross the flowing river four times and then either climb over a moss covered rock or through a small cave (under the rock) in order to actually swim to the base of the waterfall.  When we did reach the base we were overwhelmed by its power.  It was a long tiring hike, and we were exhausted when we finally made it back.  Monet and her husband (two locals we had met on our way up) waved us over to their house and brought out cold limeade, pomplemousse and bananas.  Two strangers giving openly to a bunch of tourists … how often does that happen in the states?  We chatted for a bit, and Monet showed us some necklaces she made, they were terrific and at only $5.00 per necklace a true steal.  Not having any cash, we all promised to return the next day.  As we were leaving I stopped to admire some of her flowers, she instantly yelled at for me to take one!

Exhausted Chris and I decided to watch a movie before bed.  We had aboard the first and second season of the TV series 24.  So many of our friends had talked up this show before leaving (this is when we didn’t have cable) that we purchased the DVDs for a “rainy day”.  Our friends on Waking Dream told us it was “addicting” and that when we finally decided to watch it they “wouldn’t see us for a couple of days!”  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes long.  That night, I’m embarrassed to admit, we watched EIGHT episodes!!!  It was just that each one ended in such a cliffhanger that we just had to know what was going to happen.  We kept saying, “this is the last one”, but when it would end it became “ok, just one more”.  Finally exhaustion overtook us and we dragged ourselves away.  Since then we spent many the next nights watching the series, and have now finished both seasons!  I think we are actually relieved to be done with them!  We passed on the first season to Emerald and the second to Waking Dream … we called it passing the curse!  Emerald has said they don’t know whether to thank us or hate us!  Bobulona has also gotten into the curse, the DVDs being passed from Emerald.  We highly recommend the show, but do have to warn that it is  extremely addicting!

On Sunday we went back ashore to buy some fruit and necklaces from Monet and sign Daniel’s cruisers guest book.  Again, Monet and her husband gave us ice-cold limeade along with fried bananas.  Daniel proudly showed us his guest books, which go back at least ten years.  Cruisers sign in, pasting in pictures and boat cards, or drawing pictures next to their messages to Daniel and his wife.  The books were amazing and we enjoyed leafing through them.  We all added our own messages and pictures, while Daniel entertained us with stories and jokes.  Daniel gave us coconuts and made the opening and peeling of them look easy (although we still seem to struggle with them).  Back at our boats, Chris took up a collection of light painkillers (like aspirin and Tylenol) for Daniel’s wife who suffers from arthritis.

Had it not been for the bugs (at this point I easily had at least 30 bites on EACH leg), we would’ve stayed longer, but the sleepless, itchy, hot nights were getting to me, so the next morning we moved down the way to Taiohae Bay (Nuka Hiva).

Taiohae Bay (Nuka Hiva)

Looking back it doesn’t seem like we spent two weeks in Nuka Hiva, but we did.  We were excited to find ice cream, sashimi, and pizza!  We ate out (at the local fire-oven pizza place) twice, both times with large groups of cruisers (10 to 12 of us).  On our first visit we met Akitini, the “tattoo guy”.  He was covered head to toe in traditional black Marquesian tattoos.  Chris had been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo since we left Ventura, I on the other hand was pretty sure I didn’t want another one … until that is, we got to the Marquesas and I saw some of the magnificent work.  When we met Akitini, I just knew I had to have a tattoo!!!  Two days later we were committed, along with Doug and Angela from Solstice.  Angela and I were ready to go, while Doug and Chris were still thinking it over.  I was up first … I wanted my tattoo to be “very Marquesian”, “related to the Ocean”, and linked to “life and spirituality” … with that in mind, Akitini decided on the Marquesian Turtle.  With the help of Chris, we drew a circle on the upper center part of my back … my only constraint was that it be no bigger than that circle.  I ended up with a beautiful turtle, with Tikis within each leg and a spiral of ‘dots’ in the center of the shell.  The Tikis are good luck (like someone watching over you), the spiral represents the tides of the Ocean, and the turtle itself is believed to represent the link between life and death!  There was a bit of a shock factor when it came to size … he used the circle for the body of the turtle, the head and legs expanding well outside the body … YIKES!!!  I’ll admit it took me about a week of asking “is it to big?” and looking in the mirror multiple times a day to get used to my new (very permanent) body art.  In the end I loved (still do) it (phew!).

Angela already knew she wanted a manta ray, and found one in his small sketchbook.  By the time Angela and I were both tattooed, Chris and Doug were convinced that they did indeed want tattoos … but what?  Chris found the perfect thing for him … it was a sand drawing, that Akitini’s friend had laid out to dry, of a fishhook with a dolphin ‘coming out’ of the hook.  Chris showed it to Akitini, who said it would be no problem.  We came back the next day to get Chris and Doug tattooed.  Akitini had been sketching some different ideas for Chris’s tattoo, all of which were beautiful.  He also had his friend show us all of her sand art.  Such talent!  I’m really not sure how to even go about describing them … they are like tattoos drawn out with colored sand then framed.  Everything from Tikis, to birds, Manta rays, sharks, and abstract designs.  After all this time in the Marquesas I was beginning to feel inadequate due to my lack of any artistic or musical talent.  We loved the sand art so much that we purchased one.

Chris’s tattoo is full of Marquesian symbolism … Tikis, manta rays, dolphins, the sun, and more.  The fishhook itself symbolizes safe passage over water.  Of the four tattoos, Chris’s is my favorite.  Doug decided to “go for it” and gave full creative leeway to Akitini.  He gave some size limitations and location and let Akitini do his thing!  It was a wise decision because his tattoo was just awesome.  We are still debating whether to post pictures … there is so much detail that we are convinced the pictures won’t do them justice, but then ago nor do these words!!!

Saturday was the 4a.m. (yep, that’s AM) market.  If for no other reason then to be apart of such craziness, we just had to go.  Boy, are we glad … fresh (just caught) yellowtail, warm croissants (plain and chocolate), quiches, and tons of fresh veggies.  I am not a morning person, AT ALL, but the melt-in-your-mouth fish and days without fresh veggies made 4 a.m. feel like sleeping in!  For the next two days we feasted on Sushimi and green salads.

Sunday brought with it another treat … ICE!  A few of us were getting together on Ocean Girl late that afternoon for drinks, and Chris and I were hopeful that we might still have a bit of ice left from Atouna (we don’t have a freezer, but if we put something right next to the cold plate at the very bottom of the frig it will usually freeze).  We were bummed to find only a very very small block; maybe enough for two to four drinks max.  We jokingly suggested to Ralph (Ocean Girl) and Gordon (Ascension) that they dinghy over to a large U.S. ship that was temporarily anchored just within the bay, and ask for some ice.  Ralph and Gordon actually went for it, and, mission successfully, they returned with a large bucket of ice … crushed ice no less!!!

The next day was packed full with an all day 4x4 Island tour.  The 4x4 was definitely needed, she took us on all sorts of back roads, up mountains, and through mud ponds.  With eight of us packed into the Land Rover is was a bumpy smelly ride.  We saw parts of the islands and views that we could've never experienced otherwise.  The best way to describe this tour is via pictures (soon to be posted).  The comical highlight of the trip was when Jocelyn (the tour guide) was pointing out a poisonous flower and telling us how it has been used for suicide and murder.  Angela leaned forward and [in all seriousness] asked, "How does it taste?".  Those of us in the back started laughing immediately while Doug (her husband) just shook his head and said "That's Angela!"  She was a good sport, trying to explain what she really meant by the question, but really, there was no excuse!  What was even funnier is that Jocelyn, in an attempt to be polite, actually tried to seriously answer Angela's question!

We also enjoyed an evening watching (and listening) the locals practice for the upcoming festivals in Tahiti.  The drums were powerful ... you could feel their beats and rhythms vibrate and pound through your entire being.  I tried to capture in on tape, but it's just not the same (however I'll still post a snip-it for you soon).

The next five days were spent “working” during the day and “playing” at night.  Oil changes, sewing projects (shade awnings & cockpit shade curtains), laundry, provisioning, and other boat projects were balanced by dinner with Waking Dream aboard Billabong, Cranium on Emerald, drinks at a magnificent hotel overlooking the anchorage, and group Pizza night out.  I also went through an extreme bout of homesickness.  Without constant email access or affordable phone cards, our communications home had dwindled to one short call a week.  For me, this just wasn’t enough.  I was used to daily, even hourly emails with my sister and friends, weekly or bi-weekly dinners with my dad and his wife, non-stop use of my cell phone with out-of-town friends and family, and now I barely got fifteen minutes a week.  We meet (and have met) a lot of great people cruising, however you don’t always know when you’ll see someone again (if ever), and this makes developing and maintaining close relationships difficult.  Even worse, once you do develop that relationship, it’s another person to miss when you end up at different anchorages.  I especially seem to miss “girl time”, we do a lot of things as couples or in groups, and I crave that alone time with all females … something Chris just can’t provide!  Luckily I got out of my funk after a week or so, and I’m hoping that the email situation will improve when we arrive in Tahiti.  In the meantime, I‘m making every effort to enjoy those people that I am meeting and to not get caught up in the “but I may never see them again” syndrome.

We were around for another 4a.m. market, where I became task force lead in the objective of securing tomatoes, quiche, and fish (you see, in our first market visit I discovered I’m just not quite aggressive enough to battle the outgoing, outspoken locals and other cruisers … I missed out on the tomatoes & quiches, and had a near-miss on the croissants).  Even with my well laid out plans, it was a close call.  I just barely snagged the last bag of tomatoes, and almost panicked as I watched the quiches disappearing before my very eyes, even though I had been the first one at the bakery stand (first one there but somehow not the first one to order) … with the help from Angela I obtained those desperately desired four mini-quiches!  We didn’t think it was possibly, but by the time Chris and I had finished our second fish we were actually tired of sushimi!!!  

We finally made it to church on Sunday, to hear first-hand the singing that so many cruisers had told us about.  Their voices boomed out in amazing, powerful harmonies, as we sat there in awe.  I hope that their voices echo through my thoughts years from now.

In the afternoon we finished up our final preparations, cleaning, stowage, and pre-meal prep for the upcoming four-day passage to the Tuamotus.  A huge part of me was sad to leave, especially knowing that the odds of ever visiting these miraculous lands again was next to nothing, however the clear water and white sand beaches of the Tuamotus beckoned, and I knew I had something to look forward to.

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