Monday, August 29, 2011

Land Ho!

Christmas eve.  That's how it felt staying up waiting for the sun to show land on the horizon.  After 27 days (27 long smelly perpetual motion saltwater filled days) we've made it across the Pacific Ocean.

Fatu Hiva is something conjured in imagination.  The edge of the known world.  "A fortress that rises from the sea."  A remote paradise.  Clouds always cover the tips of the sheer cliffs hurtling to the ocean floor.  Appropriate amounts of dramatic for our first vision of land in a month.  I had considered that if everyone who made the passage chipped in a few bucks, we couple probably get a big lit-up CONGRATULATIONS sign hoisted, so you can see the island when you're approaching at night. 

We turned around the corner in the pissing rain to see a couple other sailboats in the anchorage.  Wait....could it be?!  Our friends in Aquamante & Baju are waiting for us!  Happy in that way you can't not yell.  A pair of congratulatory fog horns - there are horns welcoming us to shore!  We made it!!!!

Hanavave & Omoa are the two villages, tucked onto the coast of Fatu Hiva - the southernmost island in the Marquesas.
*Pause for effect to kiss the ground & stretch your legs*
No police, no crime.  No restaurants, bars or internet.  Short paved roads & only a few cars.  Ballets of palm trees.  A huge stingray that feeds next to our ship.  Cliffs seemingly improbable to climb, undoubtedly marked with a cross on top, or disappearing into perpetual cloud spires.  Waterfalls carved out of legend, since we get lost when we try to get trek there.  Streams carving up the landscape.  Gorgeous luscious scenery that makes me marvel the world I've fallen into. 

One day a cruise ship parked itself outside Omoa & all us yachties went to visit to partake in the local festivities.  They demonstrated how to make local fares,  headdresses, & coconut oil.  Tapa is a cloth made from hammering the inner bark of a tree until it is soft & pulpy.  Bob to the rhythm of the drums like hypnosis.  A cynical eye will see the designer tags on their skirts of the dancers & the underpracticed women sheepishly falling out of step, but the swaying & the singing brought us together with a land beyond ourselves.  Decorated, splashed with fabulous black ink - the tattoos are incredibly beautiful.  Although it was set up for the tourists, still a celebration of culture lost or unseen in daily living.  Goosebumps!

We were introduced to their famous hospitality by way of the baker's family.  The father, the baker of old, is a drum maker.  Everyone is led to his garage to see his 8 foot drum made of a hollowed tree trunk, carved throughout with his family's history.  They offer everyone french bread, coconuts, bananas, pamplemousse, sometimes even chocolate cake!  They invited us back in the morning to share the fruits they can't eat fast enough.  We traded clothing & soaps to a couple girls for fresh provisions for the road.  They asked us if we were looking for un petit ami, a boyfriend, & laughed at Hanne when she said she was with the Captain.  We are glad he doesn't speak french.

Strolling in the fierce sun, taking in the sights, smells, sounds & tempo of island life.  Our first night's thoughts of "what is there to do around here?" turned into the realization that we are not going to have enough time on this trip.  It kind of adds to the mystique, but terrible all at once.  Just out of reach.  Walking in the footsteps of immortal writers, & I have fallen in love with the island as quickly as they say.

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