Return To Paradise

Friday, June 28, 1997

 We hoisted anchor at 2030 and headed out. Ua Pou was less than 25 miles from Taiohae. We were hoping for more gentle seas and a little less wind. As it turned out, we had between 15 and 25 knots and a decent sail to Ua Pou since the winds were still out of the north. The Autopilot reminded us who was in charge. We had to hand steer to Ua Pou. We needed to fix this problem before we left for the Tuamotus. The Autopilot was becoming a real pain in the neck.

 We arrived at 0100 and dropped the hook on the east side of the bay in Hakahetau this time. We were the only boat in the bay. This was quite different from our prior visit. That time we were one of about 25 boats. This time we had the entire bay to ourselves. Once we got settled in we decided to tackle some of our projects before we headed into the village. Our next trip would be a somewhat long one and we had some maintenance to do before departure. We changed the engine oil and filter, repaired the main bilge pump, set up a second bow anchor and defrosted the freezer.

 We had accumulated another mountain of laundry since leaving Hiva Oa. I decided to take the laundry ashore with my wonderful wash board. Phill would check out the local sculptor while I did the laundry. Seems fair to me, how about you? We dinghied ashore and were greeted by the children of the village. They were at the landing swimming and frolicking in the water. As we approached the landing all of the children proceeded to grab the handles on the dinghy and help us get it ashore. They were everywhere. I was sure we were going to loose the dinghy in the midst of all of this help. As they hoisted, it caught on my foot and ripped off the toenail on my big toe. I felt it go but didn't stop to see what had happened. Later I discovered that I only had nine toe nails. Oh well, a new one would grow in its place.

 Phill departed on his mission to find a sculptor and I set up to do the laundry. The kids gathered around and began to help do the laundry. I had many hands in the bucket of soapy water and everyone wanted to help scrub. I had to find a tactful way to discourage some of this help or I would never get my laundry done. One little girl in particular was pretty mischievous. She insisted on sticking her finger beneath the water faucet and aiming the flow of water at me. I asked her nicely a couple of times and then firmly told her NO. She soon understood that I didn't want a shower, I had work to do. As the novelty wore off, the kids slowly began going back to their swimming. Only two girls stayed with the laundry and me. They proceeded to rinse the clothes as I washed them. I think every kid in the village handled our underwear at some point during that afternoon.

 While I was washing the clothes a man from the village had driven his car down onto the landing and was visiting with the kids. He spoke their native language but was obviously not Polynesian. He then asked me if I was having fun. I politely replied that this was my favorite thing to do. His English was limited and we all know that my French is non-existent. We did manage a few bits of conversation. While we were chatting, Phill returned from his mission. Phill and this man (he told us his name but I cannot recall it) chatted for another good hour while I worked my fingers to the bone on the washboard. As it turned out, this man was from Germany and settled on the island about ten years ago. He married a village woman and has built a nice two-story home in the hills of Hakahetau. He was very proud of the fact that he has attained all of his goals and has such a nice home in a wonderful South Pacific village. He made it all sound so wonderful. We of course had different priorities. We wanted to see all of the sites, not just one village or island. Throughout the course of the conversation he and Phill spoke in English, French, Marquisen, German, Dutch and Japanese. It seems everyone is multi-lingual except me. Guess I better get in gear and pick up at least a few of the essential words.

 While Phill was in the village he met Etienne again. Etienne told Phill that there was a sculptor who lived next door to the market. Phill met the sculptor's wife and was successful in negotiating a price for a very nice piece of art. While chatting with Etienne, we were invited to have breakfast with him and his family on Sunday morning. We were to be at Etienne's home at 11:00 the next morning.

 We got up the next morning and did a few chores before departing for Etienne's for breakfast. It was about 20 minutes after eleven when we pulled up on the dinghy landing. When we got to Etienne's house, his wife Yvonne shook her finger at us. She told us that we were supposed to be there at 11:00. We sheepishly apologized. Yvonne had worked very hard to prepare a large meal. We were hopeful that this was normal for their Sunday meal and that she had not gone to all of this work because we were visiting them. Yvonne had cooked a goat, baked bananas (fei), made kaikai enana and prepared a papaya salad. We sat down and began to enjoy the feast. As the dishes were passed around the table to us we weren't sure what was proper etiquette. Since there were no serving utensils, we proceeded to use our fingers to put the food on our plate. Now comes the fun. We had no forks or spoons and were not accustom to eating with our fingers. We watched Yvonne eat the kaikai enana. She used two fingers to scoop a bite-full out of the bowl. She then dipped the smaller portion that was on her fingers into a coconut sauce in another bowl. The kaikai enana and coconut sauce mixture was then put in her mouth. Each person at the table ate from the same bowl and ate with their fingers. This certainly was different for us. We were not use to sticking our fingers in a serving bowl and licking them afterwards. Our mothers would have bruised our little paws for such behavior. Yvonne watched my discomfort and asked if I wanted a fourchette. My French failed me again. What is a fourchette? Phill proudly told me that that meant fork. I later learned that this was a lucky guess on his part. Once I understood the question, I quickly replied YES. Well this little scene helped to lighten the atmosphere a little bit.

We learned that Etienne had gone to Nuku Hiva for a meeting. He is the only one in his family that speaks fluent English. We had an interesting experience trying to communicate in his absence. After lunch Yvonne took us into their front yard and gathered fruit for us to take back to the boat. We then sat in the chairs in the front yard that were located under the large trees. Yvonne then asked us if we were tired and if we wanted to take a nap. We said that we were fine and declined the nap. I'm sure that Phill was just as sleepy as I was but we were being polite by declining. We spent a little time looking at Etienne's guest register and signed it as well. Etienne had offered to loan us a small book describing the tattoos used in the Marquises Islands. Yvonne brought out this book so we could look at it. We spent some time looking at it while we were sitting in the front yard with Yvonne. Everything is written in French so we will have to take some time to translate the book. We borrowed the book from Etienne and plan to mail it back to him at a later date. While we were sitting in the front yard looking through the book, Yvonne excused herself and went in the house. We waited quite some time for her to come back out but she never did. We guessed that she had gone into the house to take her Sunday afternoon nap. We felt a little awkward and decided that we would head back to the boat. Their son put our gifts of fruit in the back of his pickup truck and drove us back to the dock.


 The next morning we prepared to leave for the Tuamotus. We decided to not get additional vegetables. I could survive without a salad until we reached Tahiti. We had a journey of about 450 miles ahead of us to reach the Tuamotus. We cleaned up Mouse Pad and disassembled the dinghy. We would be off for the Tuamotus bright and early tomorrow morning.


Leaving the bay behind us
Leaving Hakahetau behind us

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


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