|Baie des Vierges, Fatu Hiva|
|Waterfall Fatu Hiva|
|Tiki Hiva Oa|
even when we are far away.
And we really ARE far away! The Marquesas Islands are just dots in the Pacific on any normal map, and not much bigger on navigational charts.
They lie three and a half hours flight northeast of Tahiti, which is the only way to get here by air. Very few travellers make it here, apart from yachts, and it's the very definition of unspoiled. We arrived at the easternmost island, Fatu Hiva, on 5 May, two days after my birthday, which was celebrated in style with candles on a birthday brownie-cake. Cards and presents from home and
Switzerland had been smuggled aboard, which was lovely. We (that's Charles and I, Alex and Roger and Dinah Graffy) had taken almost exactly 19 days to cross from the Galapagos. It's hard to summarise a long passage like that: there were eventful moments, some more pleasurable than others (catching fish and eating it as sashimi minutes later was wonderful, briefly losing Alex overboard - though he was always attached - much less so) There were long periods of not much happening, which is not a bad thing in itself and was particularly calming on night watches. Gazing at the Milky Way and shooting stars, the hours passed quite quickly.
|Calliope in Ahona Bay, Nuku Hiva|
|Nuku Hiva dancers|
ferocious particularly as the men are tattooed all over and wore only grass skirts. We've been here for a week and will stay one more, awaiting Pippa and William's arrival. It was very hard to say goodbye to Alex after almost six weeks together, a really precious time, and to send him on his marathon journey to Buenos Aires (via Auckland!) to see whether he can find the kind of work he's looking for there.
We've been for a drive round this island too, which yielded the anticipated banana and palm fringed beaches, with a grilled lobster lunch stop, and the utterly unexpected northern end of the island, which is alpine and reaches 1200m above sea level: cows, conifers, hairpin bends and air so cool I had (for the first time since January) goosebumps. Yesterday we walked up a valley through
fertile gardens and agriculture to a waterfall - apparently the third highest in the world - but we couldn't get close enough and the river went into the tightest of gorges, and then came back to a lunch of grilled goat, raw fish, papaya and other salad, and mango sorbet, all grown and prepared by a couple living the Marquesan self-sufficient life. $10 each including a mass of pamplemousse, mangos, ginger, breadfruit and limes in
|Waterfall Valley Nuku Hiva|