25 March 2009 | Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Ou est la fete? Where is the party? It's here, that's for sure. Nuka Hiva has been everything I anticipated and more. The locals smile, I mean really smile, all the time. They have beautiful flowers over the place. Most notable are the gardenias, my favorite, always placed in their hair, enhancing the natives' ever-present beauty. Since it's "All About the Food" on Zen, Nuka Hiva has lived up to that motto, too! Last night, we, along w/the crew from s/y Carl Linne, feasted on the traditional Marquesan pig roast in Hatiheu Bay at Chez Yvonne. A young pig is dressed with sweet potatoes, small sweet bananas and breadfruit, wrapped in banana leaves, ti leaves (local plant), and finally in burlap, then covered with extremely hot rocks, and placed in an umu, or earthen oven and covered with dirt for a period of 6 hours. The resulting meal is very moist and delicious. The chef brought us to see the process of digging up our meal. Kids loved it and every morsel of the feast. An invitation to see a traditional dance celebration was extended to us by the owner of the restaurant for the following day. What a field trip it was. We tested out our French, asked the locals where to go, and basically followed the beating drums, through the village and up a dirt road that leads to the archeological site called Kamuihei. As we were walking, a pick-up truck, carrying drums and performers, stopped and offered us a ride, which we took. It was apparent we had arrived when we stopped at an absolutely huge banyan tree, surrounded by gigantic, ancient stone walls, carved tiki heads and wooden totem-like poles. This was a tribal burial and community site from long ago. Sacrifices were made, skulls were hung and cannibalism was in its heyday. Soon after Tommy helped carry a huge drum up to the banyan "stage", the show began and made quite an impression on all of us. On our hike back down to the village, we witnessed a monster coconut fall naturally from its high perch. It came down with such velocity and clatter, both kids announced there are more injuries and deaths from falling coconuts than from shark attacks. Well, I guess they are learning something. I constantly wonder how all these amazing experiences will influence the paths of their lives.