Saturday, April 11, 2015

Early Impressions

Well we have 36 hours under our belt in Hiva Oa, and two restful nights of sleep as we lull about in this slightly rolly anchorage. As we start getting more active with projects and sightseeing, we realize that we have less time to do things like blog, yet there is so much to talk about. We are headed on an island "tour" today in 30 mins, so I will quickly try to get some first impressions out to you - the photos will have to wait, as one thing we know is there is very limited WIFI/Internet access here..

There certainly have been many new experiences already. As I write this, Tristan and Alexia (and now Alina and Amaia) are eating "Ronbuton"- which I have no idea how to spell, or what the english equivalent would be. Think of branches laden with 2 inch red/purple egg shaped fruit, which are then covered with half inch long soft 'spikes" all over. They are visually quite beautiful, and then you put them in your mouth (bizarre) and bite the shell open, and crack it in half (like an egg)- inside is a translucent, sweet pearly white flesh surrounding a pit, and you swirl it around your mouth, chewing away the flesh from the pit. Its fabulously sweet, and very tasty. We probably ate 30 last night and now have two bunches of them hanging in the cockpit to snack on. We ate a place frequented by the locals that looked like a pop up restaurant with a van as the store front, and a bunch of folks cooking the back on a BBQ and a giant wok. The menu was fabulously simple- burgers/hot dogs, steak frites, chow mein, poisson cru and mahi mahi grilled - we gorged ourselves on the steak frites and chow mein, both of which were fabulous. I think the kids got a kick out of French Fries, Steak and Gravy all combined together. It was even more entertaining for me, when I realized that the guy cooking the chow mein in the wok was the same Gendarme who had checked us in to the country a day earlier!

"Ronbuton" was just one of the things we learned from Pifa, who will be our tour guide today. A large, gentle giant, Pifa was born on Hiva Oa, went to school here, then boarding high school in Tahiti, and then a few years of college at BYU Hawaii. Pifa's great grandfather was actually irish, so this dark Marquesans last name is actually O'Connor, which I find amusing. His family has a 500 acre cow and goat farm on the island and we will see it today, along with many of the other sights and stories of the island. I am not big on formal "tours" but this will only be us, and will be super genuine and custom. I want to go see the homes of tiki carvers, the archealogical sites, local animals and food, and more of the jungle that is in the mountains above us.

The Marquesas are strikingly mountainous islands that shoot out of the water, and are covered with beautiful green foliage- we were excited to see a waterfall, but it is apparently 4 hours through the jungle without a trail- so probably not a family friendly activity, and we know many of the other islands have easier access. The beach we have seen so far is black sand, and all the rocks surrounding us are a deep volcanic black. The port we are in is about an hour walk away from the tiny town (no street light, two stop signs) that has a bank, art center, 4 stores, two restaurants and at least one cafe we have found (along with 4-5 tatoo parlors that operate out of the side of some of these other establishments). So far we have been able to hitchhike both ways each time we have gone to town, although the walk will be beautiful as well- as you pass so many magnificent flowers and other things to see.

We spent our first day cleaning the boat and repairing things, which was quite and effort after the passage. It has rained both days, which is a nice rinse for the boat, but not great for the large amount of laundry that is strung cross the front of our boat. The water is 85.8 degrees, but its murky here as it has a river run off in it.

We should have more to update you on after today, and will spend a few more days here in Hiva Oa, before we head to a place that is supposed to be much more spectacular- Fatu Hiva.

Hope all is well with you! CHRIS

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