Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hello from Hiva Oa

Hello Everyone,

Well it has been 5 wonderful fun packed days here at Hiva Oa. This place is so magical and we have been out and about venturing as much as possible. I can't thank Pifa O'Connor and Family enough. Pifa has been a truly wonderful help for us and the epitome of Polynesian style. He is very generous with his time and sharing the culture of his wonderful island that we truly feel at home here.

We first met Pifa at the MakeMake restaurant looking for a tour guide. Never did we think that he would be so generous and giving and not just a tour guide for the day but also our first resource for anything else we may need. Pifa took us out on a tour of the island where we explored all the traditional sites, the Smiling Tiki, the Tiki ceremonial site, the Puamau village and bay. We started by being 45 minutes late... I guess in all our confusion of time changes we had our clocks all mixed up. On our ride over we had gone back 2 hours in time... When we got here we realized that we were actually suppose to be 4 hours back in time but we never bothered to ask anyone the official time in Marquesas... What we found out when we met Pifa (which means Bull in Marquesian) is that we were behind by another 45 minutes... UGH>.. So we begin our day late...

He met us with a baguette and a bottle of honey (one of his uncles honey) for breakfast and then we started our journey of 26 miles over to Puamau Bay... The islanders aren't joking when they say this takes 4 hours... Why do you ask does this take 4 hours... well the lack of road that we venture on which sometimes is paved but mostly NOT>.... We were on dirt bumpy hole ridden roads for about 18 of the 26 miles going about 10 miles an hour, if that... the vegetation and views are so striking that you often get caught up in the scenery until the occasional head slam against the side of the car because of the huge rut that brings you back to reality. Winding through Banana groves, coconut trees, mango, pamplemousse, avocado, breadfruit... the fruit trees grow everywhere and they are HUGE>... Chris and I were surprised to see at the top of the mountain road we were on that we came across Pine Trees... Wait What? The kids were all saying how it felt like we were driving in Shasta again... it was such a contrast to go from the lush jungle to the sparse pine tree forest with the needles on the ground keeping all the jungle grasses to a minimum. It really did look like we were driving through northern California...

We stopped many places along the way to see the beautiful valleys, bays and historical sites... Our first stop was the smiling tiki... it is a little venture down a dirt road and then a short walk through a grove of banana and jungle life to this little place that had the smiling tiki. We found out from Pifa that this land was his uncle's and as he was clearing the area he found these petroglyphs and this one smiling Tiki... They had found out that these were dated back to 500 years after Christ... It is said that the first one to see the smiling Tiki is bound to be smiling all day... I think we had all tied that day on who saw it... we had smiles plastered on our faces for the rest of the day..

The next stop was to see his uncle on the other side of the island... This is just one of many that we found out... He has 16 aunts and uncles that live on the island, with each aunt and uncle they all have several kids themselves (Pifa is 1 of 8) and then of course with a big family like that there are a ton of nieces, nephews and cousins... so it seems that everyone we ran into was related...

The family owned 500 acres that ran from the this beautiful private bay all the way up this valley that was drop dead gorgeous! It was so serene and peaceful that Chris and I were just dreaming of a time we could hide away and stay with them.... eat BBQ chicken, drink beer and hang out under the fruit and flower trees... They had everything they needed right there including the beehives for their own honey, 4 pigs and all the wild boar that they trap up in the mountain..and did I mention the hundreds of goats that are everywhere... As we were leaving Pifa stopped at one of the goat shelters and we got out to pet the goats and Alina (being so small) rode one of the big ones... The girls were in heaven!

The next stop was 30 minutes down the road to Puamau Bay and lunch.... This little village is a long difficult ride on a very rocky one way road... but well worth the journey. We had lunch in the only restaurant/house in town that was buffet style... no menu. We sat down and started our meal with fresh made star fruit juice... so amazing... then lunch consisted of the traditional Polynesian style food. There was the wild Pig in a sauce, goat in a sweet sauce (Tristan's favorite), Poisson Cru (marinated fish in Coconut milk) Poi in coconut milk, Bread Fruit fried like french fries (Kids absolutely loved these), rice and for dessert sweet cakes made from coconut and bananas. So much food and too little of stomachs... That is one thing that we are adjusting to over here... is all the food that you get with your order... In Mexico it would take 6 tacos to fill yourself up... here... we have to share a dish there is so much food.

After lunch went back to one of the bays that we passed and were going to go the beach but of course before we did, Pifa stopped at one of his Auntie's house and picked up 8 Hawaiian Ice for us to take to the beach. These are homemade icees made out of lime juice, grenadine, sugar... and just plain yummy! The kids were truly in heaven with the beach and the icees.... While we were at the beach Pifa cracked open a few coconuts for some coconut water for a fresh drink....

There were so many little gifts along the way with Pifa to show us the traditions of the islanders and their food I can express enough how welcomed and fun it was to spend the day with him enjoying his culture... Not only did we sample, bread fruit, prickly pear, corpdessol, rombautan, the lunch menu, wild raspberries, avocats, sweetened dried bananas (from another uncle), but we got to meet literally half the island... now where ever we go from the gas station, the grocery stores, the bank, the cafe... literally walking to town,, etc... we are able to wave and say hello to a number of people that we have met. It feels like we know the island.

Then next day Pifa picked us up and took us to town to his cousin's for me to get my tattoo... Low and behold it was the same tattoo artist that shares space with the cyber cafe and crepe house... Piau was my tattoo artist and his was a wonderful man that was very patient with my indecisiveness. Combining my multiple thoughts of what I wanted represented on my back he came up with the perfect tattoo for me. I love it... I knew after the crossing that I wanted to get the traditional Marquesan tattoo for the passage... so I wanted it to represent the voyage, the sea, and especially my love of family with the 6 kids represented... We combined all of this into a beautiful flower and on each of the six petals a symbol for each of my unique children... Kava - the traditional marquesan symbol for oldest son... Mykaela - a turtle, Tristan - gecko, Alexia - flower, Amaia - the son rise, Alina - a butterfly.... It's perfect and I love it.... it is on my shoulder but placed so that it can be hidden even with thin strapped shirts....

After my Tattoo, Pifa helped us to go to the grocery store and provision our boat for the next 3 weeks because we will be without stores or wifi on the remote Marquesan islands. Our plans are to leave tomorrow to venture to Fatu Hiva, then Tahuata, to Ua-Huka, then to Nuku Hiva (which is the capital of the islands and hopefully will have some wifi and provisioning) and then to Ua-Pou. This will be our last stop before leaving for the 2 day sail to the Tuamotu reefs for a month.

We are extremely happy, healthy and full of appreciation for all that we have been able to do and the good fortune that has come our way with the gods of the sea and winds... we are often thanking them for a safe journey and passage and praying for it to continue.

The kids are absorbing as much as they can with the culture. We are continuing to homeschool when we can and often it is every other day with the days that we do it... a cram session to catch up and doing 2 or 3 days of lessons at a time... but the kids are handling it amazingly well and are really getting into the history and the culture of the islands... they of course are still reading a ton... all of them, and it just amazes me how they can read and re-read the books over and over again... I just purchased 3 more books in the "wizards first rule series" for Tristan. These are 700 pages and should hold him over for at least a week.

Hope all is well with everyone back home.... we miss home a lot but are really taking in and enjoying all the things that our adventure as been able to offer.

There is no fighting, complaining and we are having so much fun that it is definitely memories of a life time we are building.

Hugs and love to all,

Heather and family!

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