Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cruising at last !

To each his own, and for many the joys of cruising come from discovering new sceneries, exotic beaches, discovering new cultures and ways of life. For me, first and foremost is meeting new people, whether on other boats at the anchorage, or residents of the places that we visit, meeting old friends, making new friends. I don't care all that much about discovering new places. Having travelled extensively throughout my life, maybe it becomes harder to surprise me in this respect.
I had been a little disappointed with Fatu Hiva and the less than warmhearted welcome. On the last day, a bunch of tourists were put ashore by a freighter/tanker/cruiseLiner that visits Fatu Hiva once a month. I saw the same kids which the day before were asking us timidly for paper and pencils, now sitting on the road side and begging and saying "gimme money, we are poor !". This made me a little sick to see what used to be such a nice unspoiled place corrupted by the moderne version of tourism.
Anyway, before leaving, I called on Qeixodic at anchor to apologize for leaving before we had a chance to get together. Ed and Lila responded by coming to Papy Jovial almost immediately, and then in the evening invited us on their boat for supper and wine, being joined by Mathias and Ulla from Chennaker, who were leaving also the same evening for Hiva Oa. I felt that at last, my favourite verson of tourism was finally happening.
The crossing to Hiva Oa, only 48 miles, was uneventful, with maybe a little bit of bad weather just before we arrived while crossing the "canal du Bordelais". We entered Atuona in the midst of a heavy rainfall, but the place is easy, well protected, even if the swell finds its way in, and we were soon anchored and secure.
There were other boats there, the nameless boat of Rex (from Oklahoma) and Ixis (from Panama), Qweemarla with Barbara (from Australia) and Paul (from Germany), Chennaker with Mathias and Ulla, and 2 other sailboats with whom we had no contacts.
Saturday being part of the week-end, we did not expect to be able to clear in, but we were able to visit the village and make an inventory of the resources there, two restaurants, 4 or 5 grocery stores or supermarket, a post office with an ATM, a bank, the city Hall, a pharmacy and several shops. We had lunch in the village before returning to the boat for a nap and a quiet evening . In fact, the evening turned out to be a beer drinking session with Chennaker providing a load of german beer.
Sunday was also quiet, we did not even go ashore, but did a few trips ashore for water. In the evening, we had a spaghetti party on Papy Jovial, with Chennaker providing a chocolate cake and Rex a nice green papaya salad.
This is my kind of cruising. Nice evening with old and new friends.
Monday, after a few water trips, we went to town to clear customs and immigration at the "Gendarmerie". I had been told that as a US citizen, I was going to have to pay a bond of an amount equal to the airfare back to my country of origin. In fact, I put in my passport an old and expired french ID card, and I did not have to pay anything. Then I went to the "Mairie" (city hall) to get a certificate certifying that I was still alive, so that my retirement could continue to be paid, then post office to mail all that stuff. We then went trough the various shops to see what was available, had a beer at the second restaurant (also a hotel), went back down to the first restaurant for lunch, then had a walk to the end of the village, came back to visit the Gauguin museum, did the shopping and took a taxi back to the boat.
In the evening, I went with Mathias and Ulla for dinner to the hotel/restaurant to have goat in coconut milk and a Pinacolada.
Today is supposed to be a quiet day, when I can update my blog, look at the weather for the coming week, take care of reconciling bank accounts and other admin chores, and again fill up with water and maybe fuel.
Tomorrow, I have booked a car with driver for the whole day so that we can visit the island extensively. I will be doing that with Barbara and Paul and hopefully I might have a few interesting photos to post on the blog.
The plan is to leave on Thursday for Papeete which is 800 miles away, probably less than a week away.

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