Last few days of the visit of Hannah and Mia

Tuesday, June 19 – Hakahetau, Ua Pou
It was a very rocky night and no one slept well. One of our
friends on another boat said it was the most uncomfortable night
they have had since they got to the Marquesas. I can’t say we
could give it the same bad rating, but it was definitely a
difficult night to sleep. Even Mia, who is normally a terrific
sleeper, had to get up and try sleeping in different places in
the boat because the noise from the waves slapping the boat in
the back, and the side to side motion, kept waking her up. Mark
and I left the girls on the boat in the morning and took the
dinghy to the dock of the village of Hakahetau to make sure our
arrangements with the taxi driver Maurice were all set for
Thursday. Since there seem to be very few taxis here and we
didn’t want to have anything go wrong when the girls leave for
the airport. Maurice was at his house, just a short walk from
the dock, and reconfirmed that we would be all set for Thursday.
Then Mark and I walked over the little “restaurant” we had eaten
at a few weeks ago run by Pierrot and his wife. We asked them
if they would prepare a meal for us and the girls the next day –
and they were happy to agree. One more stop at the tiny little
grocery store in the village then to get a baguette (frozen) and
a bag of carrots (the only vegies available). On the way back to
the boat we met a young Marquesan man named Atai who was very
friendly with us when we commented on his terrific mango tree.
He gave us a few mangoes and told us we could come by the next
day for more fruit and also invited us to dinner . We weren’t
sure what either we or the girls would want to do on their last
night so we told him we would come by the next day to discuss,
and we went back to get the girls. The seas had subsided quite
a bit by then and we decided to go for a snorkel. This is one
of the only places we have seen in the Marquesas where the water
is actually clear enough to snorkel. The other bays are clean,
but not very clear as there is usually sediment from run off
from mountain streams. We had a great time snorkeling – saw a
lot of fish and one large octopus just balled up on the bottom.
It was hard to tell the octopus from the surrounding rocks and
coral – it was so well hidden – but luckily we saw him move a
tentacle as we swam by so we watched him for a while. Another
boater was snorkeling in the vicinity with a spear gun,
apparently hunting langoustine (lobster) for dinner. We stayed
far away from him just in case he couldn’t tell us from a lobster.

The dinghy anchor got stuck on the coral when we tried to leave,
just as it did a few weeks ago when Mark and I were here, so
Mark had to dive down to get it. It was quite deep – 25-30 feet
– and he hurt his eardrum as he dove. We are going to have to
be more careful when we drop our dinghy anchor – it always seems
to get stuck when there is any coral around (which is often). In
the evening we had a great fish dinner on the boat. Our friend
Susan, from the boat “Infinity” came over to look at a weather
forecast that Mark had downloaded for her for her upcoming trip
to Tahiti. Mark and I visited with her while Mia and Hannah
watched “Finding Nemo”. Also of interest (to us at least) is
the fact that the boat “Roxi” just pulled into the harbor. The
people on Roxi are very good friends with Vera, and the two
boats were supposed to have been doing the circumnavigation
together. Roxi, however, kept slowing down for various reasons
and Vera kept on moving ahead (usually with us), and so the two
boats have not seen each other for at least 3 months. We were
glad to finally meet them.

Wednesday, June 20
We tried to pack a lot into the day as this was our last full
day with the girls. We started out by getting up early and going
to shore for a walk to the waterfall. Before starting the hike
we brought 3 empty diesel containers and 1 gas can to Maurice’s
so they would be ready to take with us in his truck on Thursday
when we took the girls to the airport. The only place to buy
fuel on the island is in the town of Hakehau which is several
miles past the airport. The hike to the waterfall is not very
far – only about a 35 minute walk. The path is mostly on a dirt
road which had gotten really muddy after the previous night’s
rain. As we got closer to the waterfall there were an
increasing number of mosquitoes, but nothing too bad as long as
you kept walking (and we were covered in Deet). We all jumped
into the pool at the foot of the waterfall which was nice and
cool, but despite the spray from the waterfall, and the
constantly flowing water, there were just too many mosquitoes
around to be comfortable, so we did not spend too much time
there. We quickly got dressed and sprinted back to the main path
and back to town.

We went straight to Chez Pierrot’s for lunch and washed off the
mud and grime in their outdoor spigot. We were the only ones
there for a while except Pierrot’s wife and his two beautiful
daughters and grandson. The “restaurant” is just two tables set
up on a terrace beside his kitchen, but the food is very good
and the people there are friendly. Just after we got served our
lunches the people from Roxi walked up. They were with 7 other
boaters, all hoping to have lunch there. It is not the kind of
place that can just accommodate walk-ins, as they have to plan
in advance and get their food from the next town (about 40
minutes away), but after a few minutes of negotiation the
proprietress said she could accommodate them all. I am not sure
she would have given us 2 huge fillets of fish each if she had
known so many people were coming, but by then we had been
served. We didn’t get much of a chance to talk to the people on
Roxi, but did have a chat with some of the other sailors at
their table. After lunch we got a large breadfruit from the tree
outside the restaurant and directions on how to cook it. As we
walked back to the boat we passed Atai’s house and he gave us a
few bags of fruit – mangoes, papayas and bananas – in exchange
for some sandals we promised him if he came to the boat later
that evening. Since he is out every evening in the bay with his
outrigger canoe, we figured it would be fun for him to come
over. We got back to the boat, and were all hot and tired, and
even though we wanted to go snorkeling again, none of us had the
energy to leave the boat again, so we just swam off of the boat
and cooled off for a while. Then Hannah gave both me and Mark
haircuts. We have been looking pretty funny with our long hair,
and have given up on finding a hairdresser for at least a few
more weeks, so we figured it was worth it to be Hannah’s first 2
haircut guinea pigs. She did a great job and we now look almost
civilized. After that Atai came by to collect his sandals. We
invited him on board for a drink and some snacks and we had a
good time learning some Marquesan words from him. We ended up
giving him a few extra things – a nice shirt for his wife and a
sailing hat – and he left the boat seeming quite happy. The
girls packed up their bags and we spend the last part of the
evening watching the stars on deck.

Thursday June 21
Up very early for our scheduled rendezvous with Maurice on the
dock. It poured half of the night but luckily it was not raining
when it was time to put everything into the dinghy and go
ashore. We got to the dock at 8:30, expecting Maurice any
minute, but when it was 9:00 and he had not shown up we started
to get anxious. The girls flight was not until noon, but
Maurice had told us we needed to leave before 9:00 in order to
take us to Hakehau to buy fuel and provisions and visit the ATM.
Also, after the problems Hannah and Mia had with their flights
out here, we did not want to be stuck at the dock without a
taxi. Luckily there was a working phone booth near the dock and
I called Maurice’s house, only to be told by his daughter that
he had had some kind of emergency in the morning and he had to
take 2 people to the hospital in the other town. She reassured
me that he would be at the dock by 10:00, but we had lost
confidence in him, and the girls were very worried about their
flight. We asked one of the local women at the dock if she knew
anyone else who could at least drive the girls to the airport
while we waited for Maurice. We thought it made sense for them
to wait safely at the airport rather than 12 miles away, hoping
that Maurice would come. Since practically everyone in the
village is a relative of each other, it did not take her long to
find a cousin of Maurice’s who lived next door with a nice truck
who was willing (for a price) to take them to the airport.
Within minutes we had to say goodbye and leave them with the
hope that before long Maurice would show up and bring us to the
airport for a proper send-off. After they left we were
surprised to see our fruit man , Atai, walking by with his wife
– wearing the new stuff we had given them – and he was clearly
peeved at us. Apparently he didn’t think he got a fair deal was
anxious to let us know. It was pretty uncomfortable, and the
first time we have had a negative kind of experience with a
local. Before too long Maurice showed up and we were on our way
to find the girls. There is a pretty beach outside the gate to
the airport, and when we drove by, we saw Hannah and Mia just
sitting by the beach, reading their books. There is only one
flight a day into Ua Pou and the plane only seats 10 people, so
there is no need for the airport to be open until 90 minutes
before that flight arrives. It then immediately returns to Nuku
Hiva. The girl’s driver was kind enough to park the car by the
beach and stay with them while they awaited either us or the
opening of the gates. We all switched to Maurice’s cab and sat
by the beach for another 20 minutes before the airport opened.
It was a couple of miles further down the airport road
paralleling the runway to the very tiny little airport terminal,
and we were the first ones there. With lots of kisses and hugs
we parted. The trip was altogether too short and Hannah hopes
to come back on our next leg of the journey for a much longer

The rest of the afternoon was spent with Maurice driving to
Hakehau to get fuel (only diesel, they had run out of gasoline),
and of course more groceries. We stopped for lunch at a
restaurant where Pierrot was working as a cook – not his own
restaurant in Hakahetau – but a bigger restaurant in Hakehau.
We invited Maurice to eat with us and were surprised to hear he
had never eaten there before. There are probably only 5
restaurants on the whole island and this one was not a
particularly expensive or fancy one, although it does service
the local College of Ua Pou. Once we finished up our errands
we returned to Hakahetau and Maurice stopped to get us bananas
from a woman at the side of the road and then took us to his
house where his daughters picked mangoes and pamplemousse for
us. We had a huge load of goods to load into the dinghy and he
helped us with that as well. Back on board we stowed
everything away, and put away the dinghy and engine for our
upcoming passage to the Tuomotos – a 3 day sail. There was
hardly time to do everything, but we were anxious to get going
as we had gotten very tired by the rolly anchorages of the
Marquesas. We checked in with Mia’s parents and got updated on
the girls status – and fortunately – everything went totally
smoothly on the way back to Providence. Hannah even managed to
pick up a checked bag that she had left in the Tahiti airport on
the way to visit us. It was filled with granola and almonds so
now she will have some goodies to bring with her to Boston when
she starts her summer biology program next week.