A Special 2 Days in Omoa
09 May 2012 | 09 41'S:139 26'W, Fatu Hiva - Omoa
We have spent the last 2 days in a bay towards the south end of Fatu Hiva, a few miles south of the Bay of Virgins and it has been a terrific experience. Other than 2 local boats anchored with no one aboard, we are the only cruiser boat in the bay. The cruiser guides scare people away from anchoring here - saying the holding is not good, and there is no safe place to land the dingy. We have found the holding to be very good in 28 feet of water, and there is a new concrete breakwater where you can safely tie up the dink. It is a shame the other cruisers are missing out on this stop.
Omoa is slightly larger and more modern than Hanavave (the village at Bay of Virgins) - they have a semi-indoor soccer arena, a few more street lights (no stop sign yet), and they sell beer and some frozen goods in the slightly larger grocery store.
We have done our best shopping in this little village! Yesterday (Monday) we went for a long walk to the edge of town - just before the road turned to dirt and started winding up the valley. On our way back into town a lady offered to show us some of her tapa. Tapa is a cloth-like material made from the inner bark of mulberry, banyan, and breadfruit trees. The women pound on it with a wood stick against a smooth flat rock until it is smooth and the fibers adhere ¬- it takes many many days just to tap out a single 1 by 2 foot piece of tapa. When they finish pounding it out, they then paint it with Marquesan designs that their ancestors wore as tattoos. You can hear the ¬"tapping¬" all around the village as you walk through. This is the only island that the tapa cloth is still produced. We purchased some of her beautiful tapa and then asked where we might find some wood carvings. So she handed us off to a friend (or family?) a few houses down. This gal had lots of wood carved tiki s and bowls. Their traditional tikis have an E.T. (E.T. phone home...) look to them! We bought one of her tikis and then explained that we were also looking for a ukulele. She was happy to call another friend (or relative?) in town who came by and picked us up in her pickup truck and took us to her house on the other side of the stream, where she and her husband made beautiful ukuleles! So we struck up a deal and purchased a ukulele, a carved paddle with engravings, and John put on order a new flag pole (1.3 meter long) for the boat. The fellow had the flag pole ready for John by 1 o¬'clock this afternoon ¬- and it turned out beautiful. Made of rosewood ¬- it is almost too beautiful to use as a flag pole! We also exchanged some gifts ¬- I brought along some guitar pics to give him since he is an excellent ukulele player (he played for us a bit yesterday), and gave her some scented lotion. When we asked if there was a bakery where we could by a baguette she told us we were too la te, that it was already closed. So she ran in the house and came out with one of her fresh baguettes to give us. Score!
So after saying our goodbyes we walked back into town to check out the grocery store one last time to buy a few things. On our way back to the boat, we took a little side road that we thought might be a road but we ended up in a nice ladies back yard. She called ¬"bonjour - pardon¬" to us a few times (like ¬"hello ¬- don¬'t you know you¬'re wondering around in someone¬'s backyard ¬- get a clue¬"). Well, according to the guidebook there was suppose to be an old home nearby that was built in the 1800s and was now a museum - just ask for Sarah Vaki. So in my best french (i.e. really bad french) I tried to explain that we were looking for the museum ¬- and sure enough, that was Sarah¬'s backyard we happened to be tromping through. So once we got the formalities over with and I showed her in the guidebook where her name was mentioned, she was more than happy to show us her grandfather¬'s house with his collection of Marquesan wood carvings. The house (now just a museum) was actually behind he r current home. Her grandfather came to Omoa from Switzerland in the 1800s, married a Marquesan woman, built a home and ran a store out of part of it, and remained in Omao the rest of his life. His son (her father) became chief of the village and was very involved in Polynesian politics. Anyway ¬- we had a great visit with her. Once we looked through the house with all the interesting carvings (large bowls, war clubs, spears, tikis, etc.) she walked us around the yard. She explained how the almond tree was used in making tattoos. Burning 7 almonds on a palm frond wick will give 3 hours of light. The almond tree is called a ¬"lamp tree¬" (so to speak) in Marquesan french. The black oil residue that is left after burning the almond seed is what is used for the ¬"ink¬" in a tattoo. She also loaded us up with pamplemousse, mangos, other citron we have yet to figure out ¬- and of course the mighty banana! These are dried bananas though ¬- a bit chewy and sweet. So our somewhat accidenta l trespassing turned out to be a really nice afternoon.
Once we got back to the boat we had a fellow from in town ¬- Roberto ¬- calling us on the VHF radio to ask if we would like to buy some fresh goat. However much we would like ¬- the whole goat, or half the goat, whatever we needed. Unfortunately our tiny little fridge-freezer does not have much room in it, let alone room for half a goat. We were definitely up for trying some new goat recipes, but it will have to wait until another time.
Tonight we are doing an overnight passage to Nuka Hiva, checking out the main village there of Taiohae. It is about 130 miles away. We hope to possibly get the dingy¬'s outboard motor running consistently again. John has taken it apart half a dozen times now ¬- but it still only runs when it wants to. We have no carborator spray, so maybe if we can find some that will do the trick. Then we would also like to get the freezer back up and running. We will be away from major provisioning stops for about 4 weeks once we head to the Tuamotos, so it would be nice to stock up on a bit of frozen meats, fish and vegies before we go.
I have posted a picture from Saturday night in Hanavave. The locals prepared us a nice meal (actually we participated in the preparation this time ¬- we had a cooking class in the afternoon!). Anyway, they also played music for us that evening. And I got a lesson on the ukulele from one of the local fellows! That evening was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. All for now!l