Paradise - Right Around The Corner

Hatiheu (June 20, 1997, Friday)

We hoisted anchor from Baie Anaho at 2110 and headed to Daniel's Bay. As we departed Anaho, we took our standard picture of the bay and turned left out of the bay. We engaged the Autopilot and GPS and prepared for a nice sail around to the south side of the island. Each of us took our assigned positions in the cockpit and readied our selves for the scenic view of the island. About twenty minutes outside of Anaho we noticed a village on our left. We grabbed Charlie's Charts to see what the name of this village was. We found no mention of this village in Charlie's Charts. We then grabbed the other tour guides and quickly learned that there was a well-established village by the name of Hatiheu in this little bay to our left. We looked at each other and said what the heck, isn't this what cruising is all about. We altered course and headed into this bay to check it out. Boy were we surprised! This was to be one of our best discoveries.

There were no other boats in this bay. We decided to be greedy. We anchored right in the middle of the bay. We were in only 30 feet of water and the bay was so calm and peaceful. We knew we had discovered something wonderful. We quickly prepared the dinghy so we could head to shore and explore this beautiful village. We looked around at the shore and noticed that it was manicured like a botanical garden. There were ornate lampposts surrounding the shoreline. There were beautiful flower gardens scattered along the coast and a walkway that circled the bay. On this walkway there were several tikis and tropical structures. We scoured the shoreline to look for a dinghy landing. There were none to be found. We did notice a landing on the eastside of the bay but there was no safe place to tie up the dinghy and it didn't appear easy to get up onto the landing even if there was a place to tie up the dinghy. We decided to beach the dinghy on the south side of the bay and tie it to a stone bench located on the walkway. We had to carry the dinghy quite a ways to make certain that the tide would not come in while we were sight seeing and carry the dinghy back out into the bay. I again got my choice of which side of the dinghy I wanted to lug to shore. Believe it or not, we have wheels for this dinghy. They are safely stowed in the project box. Someday we will get around to installing them.

Once we got the dinghy safely on shore, we walked to a water faucet right on the walkway and rinsed the sand from our feet and donned our shoes. We decided to walk to the east-end of the walkway and work our way around to the west side of the bay. We only made it a little way toward the east-end of the walkway and became distracted. We noticed a small market and decided to check it out. As it turned out, this market was also a nice little restaurant. We bought some post cards, soft drinks and a baguette. Once we learned of the restaurant, we decided to spoil ourselves and have lunch there. There was no menu. The lady that showed us to our table did not speak English and we did not speak Marquises or French. We were very fortunate. There was a man and a woman in the back of the restaurant also having lunch. The man came over to our table and asked us what we would like to have. He said that there was chicken, fried fish and lobster available. What an easy choice. We decided on the lobster and a bottle of wine. The wine was in the same cooler with the soft drinks. We had several choices but they were all red wines. We quickly learned that red wine is usually chilled throughout the South Pacific. I didn't mind it being chilled but Phill had more difficulty adjusting to this method of serving wine. The lobster was fabulous. It was, however, pretty pricey. This was to be a treat that would have to last us for a long time. We are cruisers and are on a tight budget. We could not afford these luxuries like we once could.

While were waiting for our lunch to be prepared, we introduced ourselves to the English speaking person who helped us order our lunch. His name was David Addison. He was on assignment from the University of Hawaii, Department of Anthropology. He was working on his thesis. With him was Melinda Allen, also an anthropologist. Melinda was from the University of Auckland. She was researching the islands hoping to get enough information to acquire support for a project upon return to the university. Through David and Melinda, we learned that there were some archeological ruins (pae paes) within walking distance that we could visit. They gave us directions to the pae paes but also offered to get us a guide. We decided to allow the guide to take us to these sites. This proved to be the best thing as they were off the beaten path and we would not have found them on our own.

After we finished our lunch, we spent a lot of time chatting with David and Melinda. We learned a lot more about them professionally and personally. David's wife remained at home while he was on assignment in the Marquises. Melinda had brought her seven-year-old son with her while she was in the Marquises. We thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a seven-year-old boy. How many children do you know who get to travel with their mother to exotic South Pacific islands and mingle with people of different cultures. David introduced us to the owner of the store and restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that her name was Yvonne, who was also the mayor of the village. She also was an artist. She designs pareus and tee shirts with Marquises art on them. I bought my first pareu from her. Phill picked out a nice tee shirt. We asked Yvonne to autograph these pieces of art. She was a little confused by this request. We explained that as an artist, she must sign her work.

Yvonne, through David's interpretation, explained that her village would be one of the hosts for an art festival that will be held at the turn of the century. The festival will start December 29, 1999 and last through December 31. All of the Marquises Islands will participate in the festival. The hosting will rotate within several of the villages. Hatiheu will host the first set of events from December 29th through December 30th (AM). From Hatiheu, hosting will move to Taipivai for the afternoon of December 30th. Then hosting will move to Taiohae in the evening of December 30th and last through January 1st. These festivals occur every four years. At these festivals, the local artists display their talent and offer their work for sale. We encourage anyone who plans to cruise or visit the Marquises Islands to try to attend these festivals.

Mayor Yvonne

At 9:00 the next morning we met Alfonse, our guide. Alfonse came equipped with three machetes. We brought our camera bags and plenty of insect repellent. Alfonse spoke pretty good English as a result of his working with David and Melinda on the archeological digs. David had asked us to take it easy on Alfonse with regard to expecting him to speak English. With Phill's little bit of French and Alfonse's little bit of English, we got by. We set off on foot up a road on the west side of the village. Near the top of the road, we branched off into some trees and bushes. Not far from the road, however, we came upon the pae paes. This was a wonderful site. Alfonse guided us around to each of the individual areas and told us what they were used for and a little bit of the history behind each one. We learned that the sailors who had visited these colonies many years ago had brought with them diseases that seriously impacted the people of the village. There were several separate pae paes scattered along the hillside. These separate areas were for the different colonies. Eventually the colonies split off and re-established themselves on the various islands throughout the Marquises Island Group.

A well preserved Paepae

Alfonse then took us through more brush and showed us one of the largest Banyan trees that we had seen so far. This tree had a natural cavern within its root system. This cavern was lined with rocks at the bottom and was once used as a prison. It was very deep and the walls went straight up, such that one could not get out without assistance. Alfonse also showed us where skulls were hung once someone had been beheaded. There was a special rock that was used for beheading. Phill had the honor of demonstrating the proper position for lying on this rock. Alfonse smiled and asked him to lie down. I'm sure Phill had not forgotten that Alfonse had three machetes with him.

Alfonse beheading Phill

As we wove our way through the brush we saw several rocks with petroglyphs. We tried to capture these on camera but they were well hidden in the shade of the trees. We would not have even noticed these if we had not been with someone like Alfonse who knew the area well. We also saw rocks where small little areas had been hollowed out so that dyes could be mixed and used for tattooing.

Tattoo Ink Pots

As we wandered around the hillside, Alfonse told us stories about the various historical colonies and their lifestyles. We learned how the people made use of various leaves, fruit and branches of the bushes and trees in their area. Many of the leaves and berries were used for medicine and dyes for tattooing, etc.. Some of the remedies he described are still used in some of our home remedies today. During our climbing around, Alfonse reached down and picked up a coconut. He laid the coconut across his knee and whacked off the outer husk with one of his machetes. Every time he swung the machete I cringed. I had visions of him hitting his knee instead of the coconut. Not to worry, he apparently had a lot of experience and did not miss the coconut once. He sliced a small section of the inner husk off and offered the coconut to us. Inside was the sweet milk of the coconut. This was a wonderful treat. I then asked him to open the coconut so I could have some of the fruit to nibble on. This was also a wonderful treat. I love fresh coconut. Phill is not a fancier of fresh coconut so I ate his share as well as my own. Once we had eaten all that we wanted, Alfonse finished opening the coconut and laid it on the ground. He explained that this was done so the animals that roamed the hillsides could eat the remainder.

As we worked our way down the road and back to the village, we asked about the various shelters that we had been seeing along the road. Alfonse explained that these were built for drying coconut that will be sold as copra. They gather the coconut, husk it and lay it out on racks in the shelters to dry. Once they are dry, they are put in burlap bags. The villagers are paid $50 per bag of copra. The copra is pressed to extract the coconut oil, which in turn is made into candles, cosmetics, and soap.

We made it back to Yvonne's restaurant and enjoyed a cool beer and coke. After we chatted with Yvonne and Alfonse for a bit, we decided we should finish our exploration of the path around the bay. Since we had been so distracted on our first attempt of this scenic pathway, we wanted to make sure we didn't leave the village without seeing it. We thanked everyone for the wonderful hospitality and headed to the east-end of the path. Through Yvonne's guidance, the village had created several little botanical rest areas along the pathway. Each had a little hut built. Nearby there were various flowers in bloom and tikis scattered along the pathway. At night these areas were lit up by the streetlights that the village had installed. We had not yet seen anything as modern or picturesque in the villages that we had visited. This was a beautiful setting for us to take in from the cockpit of Mouse Pad. We had our own little bay with a section of paradise set aside for our pleasure.

Although we had only been in Hatiheu two days, it seemed much longer. We had seen so much of the village and spent some wonderful time with the villagers. We took a lot of pictures and will make sure they are in our album. This, I'm sure, will be one of our favorite spots. We decided that we needed to, again, head to Daniel's Bay. If we were not careful, we would spend all of our time in the Marquises Islands and not have enough time to see the rest of French Polynesia.

Leaving the bay

One Man's Haven - Daniel's Bay
Off To The Big City - Taiohae


NOTE: Comments and suggestions should be sent to Jerry Reese, Council Bluffs, IA.


Created by the Skipper of Mouse Pad.
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Revised: 19 September, 2005 .