Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008--Steve wrote the following in an email to his mom, and I thought that it was very descriptive, so I have included it here.

Taiohae Bay in Nuka Hiva is a very beautiful place. The bay is actually nothing more than an opening from the sea into what was originally a volcanic caldera. The bay is surrounded 330 degrees by a 1,000-1,500' high rim of the old caldera. The town is built near the shore around the bay and little development exists more than a few hundred yards back from the water because the calderas sides are just too steep. Everything is green and very tropical. There are palms (date & cocunut), magnolias, breadfruit, and numerous other trees, some flowering in bright yellow. There are vines, grasses, and shrubs everywhere. We could have picked a lot worse places to in which to break down. Taiohae Bay is the largest town and central hub for all of the Marquesas. There is a Catholic University and the University of Nuka Hiva here and students apparently come from the other islands (Ua Poa, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, Fata Hiva, and Tauatau) to attend. That said, there are no more than 1,500 people total in the town, and I can't believe that more than 100 students attend the two schools. The French are a definite presence here. While the Marquesans speak their native language, French is the language most often spoken and very little English is spoken. The Gendarmarie (local police) have French & Marquesans on staff but other than that, the French that are here are probably 1 out of 20 people. There is little industry here. The locals do fish, export coconut, and have a very modest tourist industry; however, apparently most people work in subsidized government jobs so that there is no evidence of poverty. In fact, while there are probably no more than 75 miles of roads on the island, almost everyone drives a Toyota 4 wheel drive, many new. There are 2 banks, 3 grocery stores (called magazins), a small Hospital, a post office, the Gendarmarie, one nice resort ($300-$500/night), a pizza parlor, and a few roadside food stands. As you walk around town, there are signs of the ancients everywhere; very old Tiki's adorn the shoreline and you can still see the "Paepaes", ancient stone platforms that acted as house foundations. The Marquesans pride themselves on their tattoos and many of the men are covered head to foot. The people are not friendly but they are not unfriendly. I think that they just go about their business and generally ignore visitors. While we haven't experienced it yet, it is our understanding that if you do break through and make a Marquesan friend, they will treat you like their long lost family. All in all, it isn't too unlike visiting an Indian Pueblo except there is little or no poverty.

The one thing that is VERY obvious is the cost of things. Food is not expensive; it is exorbitantly
expensive! Cabbage is $5/head, eggs are $1/each, 1 lb. of bacon is $15, a 6 pack of beer is $10 and an ice cream bar is $3. Last night some cruising friends went with us for pizza. Our medium pizza, 1 beer, and 1 coke was $35. The pizza for our friends who have two boys was $95. Today Linda & I went looking for Herman Melville's tomb and memorial and stopped for lunch at the resort I mentioned earlier. We had 2 cheeseburgers (one with fries and one with a salad), 2 beers, 1 pina colada, and a bottle of water and the bill was $60! Fortunately, we provisioned well in Mexico and have a great deal of food on board and only need to supplement with vegetables, fruit, fresh or frozen meat, and some eggs. We can eat out if we choose to or not. These fiends that we had pizza with last night didn't buy enough provisions in Mexico and are now out of food - and with two teenage boys. They were depressed about how much provisioning is going to cost.
The swell does come into the bay so it is advisable to put down a bow and stern anchor so you can keep the bow into the swell (so the boat does not roll). Our stern anchor kept dragging because the rode was not long enough so today we lengthened it - but no before accidentally dropping the 45 lb stern anchor out of the dinghy with no line tied to it! While you might expect that the water is clear - and it is in most bays, it is very not clear here - actually about 2 feet of visibility down at 30 feet where our untethered anchor lay. It took a scuba dive of 30-45 minutes before I luckily strayed onto it, but all's well that ends well since our anchor is once again tied to the boat and in a location that hopefully will not drag.
We hope to hear about our injector fuel pump by late tomorrow or early on Tuesday. If it can't be fixed, Steve has found one that he can order from the states. We hope to be on our way in a week to 10 days as we are anxious to move on as we have only so much time in French Polynesia.
I am able to include some pictures since we have Internet, although very slow, available. The first picture at the left is our party at the equator, the next picture to the right is a picture of the bay, and the picture at the top is one of a tiki.

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