Ua Pou, best home town in Marquesas
23 June 2018
We are in Ua Poa, Hakahau. I made a point of memorizing the name of the harbor and the correct pronunciation. Polynesian words and names can be phonetically pronounced if you learn the vowel sounds. But it is still another language and it is hard to remember names correctly. But Lisa and I went on a long hike out of Hakahau and I wanted to be sure to remember the name if we had to hitch a ride back.
Our hike took us up into the mountains on a nicely paved, switchback road. We made the summit with a few stops. Downhill was much easier. We made it!
Ua Poa (wa-poo) is much like the other islands we have visited during our six weeks in Marquesas. It is mountainous and stunningly beautiful. This island in particular has spikey peaks that were formed by viscous lava that pushed straight up into towering spires. Mountain climbers come to answer the challenge of these spires. We just take their pictures.
Harbors in Marquesas can be a challenge. Few are flat, calm. Most have a roll from ocean swells. They are also deep but we have had no problems anchoring. Sometimes a stern anchor helps keep Uproar pointed into the swell for an easier ride. Seems we are getting used to these conditions, we sure love it here.
Weather is a bit cooler than the Caribbean, especially at night. We sometimes reach for our winter, top sheet! It does rain, mostly at night or early morning. We have had a few cloudy days but sun shine is the rule. Winds are moderate compared to the Caribbean but we have only explored Marquesas, we have 3,000 miles to go to reach Australia. I bet we encounter a variety of weather systems over the next few years.
These islands are remote! They are the furthest islands from any continental land mass on earth. Only six of the Marquesas islands are inhabited. Hakahau is the third largest village. And a delightful village it is! People smile shyly and greet us, “bon jour.” It is easy to enter into a brief conversation, even with my limited French. We are often given free fruit from people we encounter. It grows everywhere. Gardens surrounding homes are a botanical paradise. Everything grows lush fruit or flowers. People keep their yards clean. This goes back to the ancient Marquesasians who kept the ceremonial grounds free from dead leaves. Can't have rustling leaves interrupt a human sacrifice!
Human sacrifices did occur but only men from enemy villages were sacrificed. To protect the male offsprings, the second-born male was raised as a girl. That way, he/she would not be sacrificed if captured. This continues today. Rae-raes are common, men, dressed as women. It is quite natural here. Some pull it off well, some do not.
The anchorage here is quite small. Now there are only two other boats, our friends Silke and Sebastian, both singlehanders. The beach near us has a large, watersports facility. Every afternoon the school children come down to swim and paddle outrigger canoes around the bay. We love watching kids play in the water as all kids should do.
Our first impression of the South Pacific is that this is a place to slow down and relax. Not that the Bahamas and Caribbean were hustle and bustle. But with a tiny population, life takes on a more immediate meaning, at a slower pace.
Time to wrap this up, cocktail hour on Sea Maiden with Silke is upon us.