Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nuka Hiva

On Monday, we dropped off some pictures we'd printed for Calix and his family, picked up Vincent and his luggage, hauled anchor and had a perfect beam reach sail across the 25 mile channel to Nuka Hiva. Vincent is a tall thin French physical therapist that asked just finished a two week substitute stint at the hospital on Ua Pou. He approached us Friday on the beach and asked if we might be going to Nuka Hiva. The tiny airplanes that go between the islands are expensive and he was "hitch-hiking".

He brought FRESH VEGETABLES purchased from a local man. This has been a wonderful thing since fresh fruit abounds but in the groceries one only sees potatoes, onions and the occasional sad head of cabbage. Vincent brought bell peppers, a head of lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes and cucumbers! So we had a nice sail across and a nicer dinner. He spent the night and the next morning we went to the beach with a twofold goal of hiking to the legendary waterfall and finding him a ride to the main town five miles east of where we're anchored.

On our two hour hike we passed many many rectangular rock platforms 3 to 6 feet high, some with rock stairways still intact. These platforms are where the people used to build their houses. Based on the number of platforms we passed, and the quality of the ancient stone walkway we used for most of the trail, there used to be a LOT of people in this valley. Now, there are only 7-8 houses which aren't even used all the time. There's no school here so only one old couple and 4 single men are all we saw on our walk through town.

The waterfall was freezing cold and tucked back in a tiny green ravine carved in 900 foot high volcanic cliffs. White tropic birds swirled in circles on the drafts between the two cliff faces, their tails as long as their wingspans. Brian and I swam to the large boulder separating the outer pool from the deep narrow pool below the waterfall. Behind the boulder, it was even more beautiful. On the east wall was a tall cave painted in vertical slippery stripes of mineral colors, creams, ochres, and olives laid down over many many years. The waterfall itself was at the junction of the east and west walls, not a roaring river but a steady heavy spray like pelting rain.

After hiking down to the beach, Vincent saw a small motor boat preparing to leave the bay. He hailed the man aboard, found out he was headed toward the main town, secured a ride, picked up his gear from Nomad and zoomed away, leaving us the precious veggies.

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