Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fati Hiva

In the end we arrived either too late or too early, at around midnight
and we chose to drift off the famous bay of Hanavave (bay of the
virgins) and make our entry in daylight for two reasons, first for
safety as the bay is only a tenth of a mile wide, and second so that
Jean-Francois could film our arrival in this world renowned anchorage.
The bay is named not after any kind of virgin, but because of huge
pillars at the entrance which look what the french call "verges", same
word used for penis. It is said that the catholic missionaries did not
like the use of that word and changed it in "vierges", i.e. virgins.
The first thing that comes to mind when approaching the bay is that
those "verges" must have been those of men with a very bad case of VD.
They are crumbling and no longer presenting straight lines. The sides of
the island are almost vertical yet they are green and the bottom lush
with many coconut trees at sea level.
There were three other boats at anchor when we arrived, but everybody
was still fast asleep.
We saw one of the skippers, Rex, from the US, rowing back to his boat
with 5 gallons pails full of water in his dinghy. We had a little chat
and learned that the local time was TU - 9:30, 1 and a half hour
difference with us.
We went through the routine of preparing the boat for time at anchor,
had a good shower, changed into the last set of fresh clothes, and rowed
ashore with our vacuum packed garbage bag, our documents (passports,
ships registration, etc...) and an empty jerryjug of water, although we
still have 130 gallons of water in the tanks.
First thing we did after pulling the dinghy on the jetty and dumping the
garbage, was to start looking for the one policeman in the village. We
found it easily, and he gave us a speech to explain that by law, we
could not stay nor go ashore, that we should be leaving at once, to make
clearance in Hiva Oa and come back, that he could not do anything about
it, before asking us to enter ourselves the name of the boat and our
names and passport numbers into his own register. Then he told us that,
due to his great understanding of the suffering sailors, he would allow
us to stay for three days, that is Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
and that we should leave on Sunday night to be in Hiva Oa by Monday
morning. And please, don't tell anybody up there that you spent anytime
at all in Fatu Hiva.
After that, we strolled through the village to try and assess what was
available. The village looks like a million other villages in tropical
third world, except that here they are financially supported by France
and can afford to do very little work, if any, and enjoy life in this
beautiful and almost desert island. We found bread, sold out of a truck
in front of the local post office, we found a small grocery store with
only canned supplies, we found a house where we got local grapefruits,
huge, sweet and delicious. We visited the house of a wood carver where I
bought a small wooden turtle, which in my world is closely associated
with the crab (the chesapeake Bay crab and the turtle island of the
brothers of the coast of the 17th century.
Then we filled up our water jerrycan and went back to the boat for lunch
and nap.
My first impression of the place is that it is hugely overstated as the
most beautiful anchorages in the world. I have seen many, all over the
world, who deserve same or better reputation. And for the village, yes
people are very friendly and relaxed, but the village is certainly not
in terms of visual aspect, on a par with the beauty of the bay.
Tomorrow, we are going to walk up the road to see the waterfall. I don't
think we will walk to the "capital" Omoa 3 miles further south on a
staight line, as it is a four hour walk to and four hours back probably
for the same scenery than here. In all likelyhood, we will then sail to
Hiva Oa on Friday night, hoping to find few things still open on
Saturday. Then on Monday we will make our official entry into french

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