Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anaho Bay

Current Location: Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia 08°49.35'S / 140°03.89'W

We arrived in Anaho Bay, on the NE corner of Nuku Hiva, the northeastern-most of the inhabited islands in French Polynesia, about a week ago. It is the best anchorage we've been in so far in all of the Marquesas (except maybe Hanamoenoe in Tahuata).

This time of year, there is a large SE swell that makes all the anchorages on the south coast of Nuku Hiva really uncomfortable. And Taiohae, the main harbor, is particularly crappy, both because of the large swell and because of the 'williwaws' (wind gusts) that come from every direction. Daniel's Bay is better, but a little cramped, and still a little rolly. Anaho is flat calm and beautiful, and the wind blows from a constant direction at a reasonable speed.

It is a large bay with a series of pretty beaches interspersed with coconut-dotted rocky points. As everywhere on Nuku Hiva, there are signs here of a large population in the past. There are walls and tumbled-down rock structures buried all over in the foliage--all that remain of the 10's of thousands of Polynesians who lived here when the Europeans first made landfall.

There are only a few families living here now, but they keep the grounds pretty well-tended. There are the usual large coconut plantation areas, which they tend by piling all the fronds and husks into piles and burning. The coconuts get piled up and left to dry, then they are opened, and the meat extracted for 'copra'. This is eventually shipped to Tahiti and becomes coconut oil and other byproducts.

They also have the typical Marquesan gardens filled with fruit-bearing plants. We have been able to trade a few things for all the fruit we needed--especially bananas, mangoes, and limes. We got rid of the last of our 22 shells and a pack of old cigarettes for a huge stalk of bananas and some mangoes.

We were also able to trade for some pearls. There is a French boat anchored here who has spent 18 months in French Polynesia. He's a diver and spent a season helping a pearl farmer in the Tuamotus, and he was paid in pearls. So he came to us offering to trade some pearls for any leftover wine and other food we could spare. So we had a nice happy hour session with us and Infini and Florent, trading for pearls and going over all his favorite dive spots in the Tuamotus. We all came away from the trading session happy--we got a few 'quality' pearls, a few 'B' grade pearls, and a handfull of less than perfect pearls, but ones which family and friends will enjoy having as a small memento of our travels (we hope).

We have done 2 of the possible hikes in this beautiful setting. There is a lot more hiking to be done, but we're ready to head north soon. One beautiful afternoon, we hiked east over the low peninsula to the windward beach. We were warned that the beach would be buggy with no-no's (tiny biting flies much worse than mosquitos), so we went in socks and long pants and long-sleeved shirt. But it was pretty windy and I think that much coverup was overkill on that day--it was really hot hiking in all that clothing on a sunny day out of the wind!! We found a pretty beach, some semi-wild horses, some possible remains of an old habitation and not much else. We never did find the little farm back in the trees where friends had gotten fruit.

We also hiked over to the town of Hatieu, to the west. This was a little harder hike--up over a pretty high hill and down into the next bay. But it was mostly wooded and we picked an overcast day, so it wasn't too hot. The whole trail was lined with old mango trees. But some of the mangoes we collected on the ground--ven ripe ones--tasted very very tart--almost like a lemon--certainly not like any mango we ever tasted. In Hatieu, we visited the grocery store where an ice cold Tahitian beer was waiting for us. And also, of course, onions, cucumbers, potatoes, chips, and frozen baguettes. We ate lunch at Chez Yvonne on the water (we had called ahead on the cell phone for reservations, but may not be necessary). It was a yummy big lunch--most of their meals were in the $2000 CFP range (a little over $20). Between the 5 of us we had curried goat, curried shrimp, poisson cru, and goat in coconut milk. It was all good, and large portions. Even Dave was stuffed when we finished. Hatieu is a pretty little town anchored by a fairly large, fairly new catholic church. The caretaker of the church let us in for a quick look--it is only 5 years old, so pretty modern in design--'airy' is the best word to describe it. Probably built on the ancient foundations of a Marquesan marae (sp?) platform.

As everywhere in French Polynesia, we could easily spend 2-3 times the time we have spent here, and not be bored. Too bad the French insist on limiting our time here!! A 2 year cruise in just French Polynesia would not be too long, in my opinion. We have only touched on half of what's here, in the 6 months we've been here.
At 9/15/2010 2:35 AM (utc) our position was 08°49.35'S 140°03.89'W

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