Sunday, May 09, 2010

Exploring Nuku Hiva artifacts

French Polynesia is made up of many island and chains of islands. The most easterly chain is called the Marquesas. A few facts I read about the Marquesas and Nuku Hiva Island where we are anchored:
  • The town that we are near has a population of around 3,000 and lies in an open volcanic crater.
  • This town, called Taiohae, is the largest town of the Marquesan Islands.
  • We noticed that tattoos are very popular amongst the local men and women.
  • Nuku Hiva is 339 sq. km.
  • The largest island in all of French Polynesia is Tahiti (Nuku Hiva being the 2nd largest, depending on your source of info).
  • Famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson spent time on northern Nuku Hiva.
  • Painter Paul Gauguin spent his last years in French Polynesia.
  • And Moby Dick author, Herman Melville, jumped a whaling ship in 1842 at age 23 to land at the Marquesas.
After Holly and Jordan cleaned Tango's bottom of parasites, the 3 of us hiked up the side of a mountain to discover the artifacts that we had been told about. We hiked about 1.5 km along a roadway and then at least another 1.5 km up and through bush, etc. along a semi-trail.

We took a break as Jordan tried to crack open and peel off the husk of a coconut that we found. Success! The juice managed to escape but the fleshy coconut fruit was delicious. We soon ran into a local, very muscular, older man with a large knife that helped to remove more of the shell, making it easier for us to consume.

This is how you do it

As we hiked, we noticed all the pigs with piglets, roosters and chickens with chicks, horses with young colts, goats, and all the differing plant life along the way. We finally reached the site which was well worth the lengthy hike. Here, Jordan retrieved several fresh, juicy, mangoes using a long stick found propped against a tree. They were delicious and we all thoroughly enjoyed the treat as the juice ran down our chins!

Nuku Hiva site

We then took in the all the different tikis, huts, vegetation, and rocks around this magnificent sacred site. Tikis are stone and/or wooden figures in a human form. The earliest did not have eyes carved.

Jordan beside a stone tiki, and...

...a wooden tiki (photo courtesy of SV Tango)

When the sun was starting to go down, we discovered an easier route to return and started on our way back. Growing in trees along the roadside, we found several star fruit which we tasted. They were sooo delicious - tasted just like orange pop.

Then near the bottom of our trail, a local woman pleaded with us to take several of her pamplemousse (very thick skinned grapefruit). So by the time we returned to Tango, we had fresh hand-picked mangoes, starfruit, and pamplemousse for a delicious breakfast the next morning. Store-bought produce has never tasted this good. What a great day!

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