I have been lacking in my blog entries... it is so beautiful here that we get caught up in our surroundings.... and not inside the boat... We are now on Tahuata anchored on a white sandy beach with a perfect wave for the kids to boogie board on... but it is raining so I am catching up on school work and blogs.....I will start with our amazing visit to Fatu Hiva...
Well, this is where I would have taken a creative writing class to try and give this amazing island justice. I didn't, so I will have to update with pictures as soon as I can... for now bear with me while I try to describe this heaven on earth. After spending time in Hiva Oa... and touring the island (which is amazing) we sailed for about 6 hours to come over to Fatu Hiva. This island is known for its high cliffs and deep lagoons.... waterfalls, fruit trees, palm trees, and amazing hikes. We came into the lagoon here in Hanavave which is surrounded by steep volcanic cliffs/mountains that drop straight into the water... They are black volcanic rock with palm trees and beautiful green grasses on them that contrast against the black... It literally looks like a scene from King Kong or Jurassic park when you are arriving onto the island. We also hear the goats on the hillsides, haven't seen them yet, but hear them. We got here 2 days ago and have been fulfilling our time with hiking as much as we can. This side of the island has about 200 people living here with about 30 houses that line one street that is illuminated at night by their generator powered street lights. There is one grocery store that is pretty well stocked with necessities and is only open from 7 to 11 and 2:30 to 4pm. There is one church and a school for the few kids that are here. There are no gas stations or banks that we can see and the people sell their art work out of the homes. Everyone is extremely friendly, inviting and helpful. Our first day we walked into town and got ice cream (of course)... and then met 3 artisans who sell tiki's. The offered us a seat in their home while they showed us their work and the kids got to play with the baby goat and a puppy... what more could you ask for. The next day we walked up a jungle path to their famous waterfall and swimming hole. Just the hike alone up this road through town, then further up through fields, tall grasses, streams, climbing over trees and rocks until finally 1 1/2 hours later it opens up to this waterfall that is about 400 feet high of sheer black rock. This waterfall falls into a small pool of water surrounded by all these high cliff rocks. We also found that it is extremely deep after Chris jumped off one of the cliff sides and couldn't touch the bottom. All the kids loved swimming in it and the best thing yet they found was to float on your back and look up at the water coming down on you. Really quite refreshing and it feels so good to swim in fresh water again. Alexia has an amazing description of the waterfall in her entry... She really captures the feelings you have while you are there.
The next day we hooked up with some friends from other boats (Aussie Rules and Bob the Cat) and took our boat over to the town of Omoa. We wondered through town and saw their cute church and the general store where we bought some goodies. All the houses had so many fruit trees and wonderful flower gardens. The thing that surprises me is that all the houses have barbed wire fences surrounding them... I am not sure what they are keeping out or if they are trying to keep something in... There are only 300 people in the village... they must all know each other so there must be some reason for the barbed wire fences... it is the weirdest thing to me. After the store we went on a hike to find the Petroglyph of the giant mahi mahi. Granted there are no signs directing you so we were unable to find it. We asked a few people for directions but these things are often up in the woods and without someone leading you it is hard to find. The kids were getting tired and it was around 1:30 so we started heading back to the boat. We needed to get going because most of the group was hiking back to Hanavave Bay that was about a 4 hour hike and the sun sets at 5:45... It gets pretty dark under the canopy and they didn't have flash lights so they started their hike. Chris, Tristan, Rosie and Dave from Aussie Rules, and Sara, Steve and Melanie from Bob the Cat were on their way. It is a straight hike up to the top of the mountains and then along the ridge line and back down to our bay... it is suppose to be a spectacular view up there and a challenging hike...
Dave, from Bob the Cat, his 2 boys Mattias (7) and Luke (5), Alina, Amaia, Mykaela and Alexia and I all took the boat back to the other bay so the kids could swim and play while we were waiting for the arrival of the others from their hike. The kids all had a great time together... it is always nice when they find kids their own age to play with. The sun was setting and it was starting to get dark so Steve brought all the kids to our boat while he went to shore to wait for everyone... He speaks french so it is easy for him to ask for help if we needed a ride to go find them. Of course, at about 6:30 they all arrived back at the dock safely and had a great time... Blisters is the reason for the delay... Dave on Aussie Rules had developed a hot spot and it was a slow journey coming down the mountain.... Tristan was a trooper hiking in his all terrain flip flops without a problem (we learned a great new term- "jangles" -its the Kiwi term for flip flops)... he credits all the hikes they do in boy scouts and said this hike was a walk in the park... The others didn't quite agree... thought it was more like a 30% grade up and back down...
The next day we left for Tahuata... This is a small island that many people pay to have a boat bring them over from Hiva Oa for their white sandy beaches. It was about a 7 hour sail up from Fatu Hiva and I think being in the anchorages so much that you lose a little of your sea legs... Tristan and I both got sea sick on the way over. The swell and the wind was from behind and going with us so both of us felt like sissies fro being sick. When we got here we stopped in at the first anchorage that has a small village with a beautiful stained glass church and little store to provision at. After we anchored and then looked to see where we could land the dinghy with all of us... we discovered how challenging the swell coming onto shore really was. It was amazing with the waves breaking on shore and then the swell rising up over the dock landing, it was a little intimidating... We were watching another cruiser boat with 2 adults try to land their dinghy to go ashore and saw how after about 15 minutes they were finally successful. Chris and I both decided to pull up anchor and unfortunately skip this little village just because it looked too sketchy with trying to get the kids to jump out of the dinghy at the right time while not being slammed into this concrete dock landing... Hmmmm... I'll pass on this one.
We ended up in Hanamoenoa Bay... Wow... this is a beautiful beach... Completely picturesque.... White sand beach, lined with coconut trees, lava rock on each end along with the one small hut in the middle. We decided to go ashore and let the kids play in the surf. We had to anchor the dinghy off shore and swim in because the waves are too rough to land in and the beach is really steep so you can't pull the dinghy up onto shore. We were playing in the surf when out of my right eye I see a local guy with long hair come running towards Amaia in the water yelling, "Big Wave, Big Wave!" He was so worried about her that he was diving into get her. When I looked up there was this one big wave that had developed out of now where and Amaia was so far down that she couldn't get out in time up the steep beach... It was all in slow motion at this point... she looked at Chris and I, then at the man running towards her and then she just knew she couldn't make it so she turned and dove in and under the wave.... Her little feet looked so small. The wave was probably 8 to 9 feet tall and when it broke it came all the way up to the top of the steep beach and started sweeping everything out into the bay, including my Kayak... Not only was this wave big but it was so powerful that it was pulling me back down when I was trying to grab the boogie boards and kayak... Of course my thought is Oh My God, where is Amaia.... Low and behold I look up and she is playing in the surf like a little seal enjoying the push and pull surges that go with the waves... not even phased. She was so awesome and knew just what to do that it didn't even phase her. Stephen, the local that ran after Amaia lives in the hut on this beach, he saw us come to shore and was coming to introduce us and to let us know to stay on the beach because he has a bunch of wild boar traps up in the coconut trees that he wouldn't want the kids to get snagged in. He is very friendly and was also inviting us to have dinner with him. If we were going to be in the anchorage for a little while he wanted to have a pig roast. He had caught a wild boar and wanted to share it with the cruisers in the anchorage. He also said he couldn't believe how Amaia had dove under the wave like that... she handled it perfectly and he was so impressed for such a little girl to be able to handle that size of wave- he said she had a "warrior spirit"... It really was a sight to see... I wish I could have caught it on camera.
We had a wonderful sunset last night and enjoyed it immensely while Mykaela and Tristan cooked dinner. We had to applaud the sunset tonight... We haven't seen one with so many colors as of yet. If you can imagine the warm glow of the orange on the horizon, blending to yellow as you go up... with a partial new moon illuminated as to where you can see the whole moon, then a bright shinning star right next to it. This star is the one that is so bright it often reflects off the water at night. Then on our right was a small dark rain cloud and behind all the shades of blue you can imagine... but what was more wonderful was on our left we had all the shades of purple.... it looked like a rainbow in the sky.....
While Alexia was finishing up on her homework and we were getting ready to watch a movie there was a knock on the side of the boat. Stephen, our local friend, was with another cruiser boat and he brought us some of the wild pig. He wanted to make sure we got some incase we decided to leave. We tried to give him something in return but you find that the theme among the locals is that they will give you the shirt off their back and in return only ask for a smile. Pifa and Stephen both had the same answer when giving... Just your smile is enough for me.... They are truly wonderful people and really love to share what they have.
Hugs and love to everyone,
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