Friday, May 9, 2014

Mantas -

After a super fantastic breakfast of non-worm infested oatmeal Shannon spotted a manta swimming around. Fortunately we left the kayaks right where we finished with them so after grabbing a mask, fins, and a camera, (we basically sleep in our bathing suits), we were off!  Intrepid worked as spotter from the kayak, and would tell us where to go to see the mantas.  We got some fantastic videos and pictures.  What an incredible experience!! 

The mantas have these gigantic mouths that make them look a little fierce when they are swimming toward you. The plankton that they are eating are so big that you can see it quite clearly with your naked eye.  We reviewed how the mantas take the water in, filter it, eat the plankton, and send the rest of the water out the outtakes on their bottoms.

Good times!

May 8, 2014 -

Tahuata is a very nice island also.  Not as steep and jagged of a hillside, which I loved on Fatu Hiva, but gorgeous white beaches and clear water with coral and snorkeling.  Not inhabited at this anchorage like Fatu Hiva, but rather some abandoned buildings to explore.  It is fun to have the differences and variety.

So we had light winds for our sail across and arrived at 1:00 am.  I'm glad we made it; it was a lovely place to awaken!! - - Such a beautiful white beach.  We haven't had a beach to play at for over a month.  Just to get out, dig, get wet and dirty and fully exercised!  It was perfect.  We went on deck before breakfast and Courage spotted a manta ray swimming by the boat.  We called the kids out to see it, while looking for it, another manta jumped right out of the water in front of us.  It was excellent!!  So we launched the dinghy and went touring.  We didn't see them while we were in the water, but when we got back on deck we saw one right next to our boat!

So as we had our breakfast, a rainbow appeared in the western sky.  After breakfast some dolphins swam by the back of our boat.  The kids and I got ready and headed in.  Courage dropped us off in the dinghy.  There were 4 other boats in the anchorage; one was Adina, who we'd met in the Galapagos.  She was so kind as to give me yellow cloth to make a quarantine flag.  Her father does hot air ballooning, so she had some material from that.  Strong and light, perfect!!  I am flying the quarantine flag I made from her material, so we went and said hello on our way in.  They had a nice crossing and were doing well.

As we got to the beach, it began to rain!  We went running for shelter.  There were structures that we heard were abandoned.  First we tried to be under low coconut trees, but it wasn't too good, so we went to the shelters.  The roof palms were falling through, but we could find places to hide out.  Next thing after finding shelter is to secure "fresh water" according to my little explorers who may have been watching too much Bear Grylls.  So they set out some pots from the shelter and coconut husks to catch the rainwater.  Then we set up palm fronds to funnel it in.  OK, now we need food.  Fortunately mom brought 9 o'clock snack, so we didn't have to eat grubs.  Unfortunately, maybe the rain stimulated us, but it seemed everyone had to pee, so they made a bathroom to the side of the building.  After a little bit, the rain ceased and we went out exploring.  There were a few structures and man made items around to check out.  One structure had concrete footings, a new wheelbarrow out front and a large water tank (200 gallons?) out back collecting rainwater.  Hard to believe someone abandoned it!  But, some of the floor was falling through; there was a stove pulled out, roof falling in, and other signs that it may not be totally taken care of.  Whatever the case, we left everything alone, but thoroughly inspected it.  Interesting to see how and where people live.

The kids found a shell for me for my birthday.  Then they wrapped it in the sand for me with balls of sand on top of it and other decorations.  It was wonderful.  I opened it one ball of sand at a time to find my shell. - - Very thoughtful.  There was also a sand cake.  We had a nice party.

We walked the beach, found some shells, and met a few of the people on other boats here.  It's interesting that recently when we meet new boats, a typical question is "where are you from?"  More and more, this is stumping people.  We are meeting some serious cruisers.  A couple from France, who lived in French Canada, is now out cruising.  A woman from Jamaica, then the states, married a guy from South Africa.  Been on the boat for years, so not really a base home.  A family cruising for 25 years, she grew up in France, he in Australia.  Australia is probably where they'd go if they went to land.  It's just funny; we're meeting people who have been more out than in, who have broken most land ties, so could re-establish anywhere they wanted, if they wanted.  The freedom is nice!

We came back in for lunch after our morning survivor challenge of shelter, water, food, bathrooms, etc.  Cassidy had made her bread and we feasted.  Courage had caught some rainwater in the morning, so we had nice fresh water wash offs.  Then somehow Integrity caught his lure on the bottom, so I got back in my suit and went to dive for it.  Unfortunately it felt like my ears would explode despite trying to clear them, so Courage dove and freed it.  Since I was in the water, I talked Cassidy into going snorkeling with me.  Courage dropped us off in the dinghy, but on the way, a new boat had just come in with what appeared to be a teenager on it.  This is a rare sighting indeed, so we buzzed them.  They have a 14 year old onboard!!!  And they've been cruising for 6 years.  They are from Colorado.  Yeah!!!  So Cassidy and I went snorkeling, which was great.  There were some of the regular fish - parrotfish, angelfish, rockfish and some others I recognized.  But there were also some new ones that I didn't recognize.  That was fun.  I'll have to see if I can find out what any of them are!  We had a nice dive and swam back to the boat.  After 20 days of sedentary living, then 5 days of hiking through town and toward waterfalls, it was nice to swim and work some different muscles for a change.  I'm a bit sore with all the activity after the period of inactivity.  We got another wash off, then went in.

Cassidy's friend came by and invited her to the beach.  She was on a paddleboard, Cassidy took a kayak and they were off for hours of beach, visiting around the anchorage, swimming, back to the beach.  We haven't seen a teenage girl in a long time!!  Very excited.

We had a nice dinner of fresh tuna, the last that we had.  Won't have fish for a bit since we heard there are issues with ciguatera near here, so have to wait for our next big jump in a week or so.  Then we had a key lime pie!  It was a perfect lime pie made from fresh squeezed limes from Fatu Hiva.  We decided not to do cake for my birthday since we'll have it for Vitality's birthday on the 11th; then something else for Courage's birthday on the 13th.  No need for cake every day, just a special dessert.  Courage may get mincemeat or brownies, or maybe mincemeat melted onto brownies??  Vitality will get the traditional cake.  As will Intrepid May 29th.

I had a very nice day for my birthday.  The setting was perfect, the weather was great, I had fun with everyone, meeting new people and spending time with the kids.  The water is warm and inviting, but also refreshing.  It is clear and there was some great wildlife for viewing.  The beach was interesting and we got some nice sun and exercise.

Cassidy's friend came over to watch a movie.  Her family is as happy to have a teenager for her to hang out with, as we are happy.  They were going to move on tomorrow, but will probably stay another day so the girls can meet a little more before we separate.  We are on the same general course, but they have a 3-month visa, we have a 6-12 month visa, so we aren't as rushed as they are.  They are also talking about going up to Hawaii and back to the states, but are not sure.

We shall all see where life takes us!  It is fun to cross paths with such interesting people out there.  We started the day with 5 boats including us in the anchorage, now we have 12.  There is quite a flux of boats out here with lots of people moving and exploring.

I feel lucky, I can imagine it's hard for someone without a boat to get out and be a tourist in the Marquesas Islands.  Even if you fly out, get a hotel and rent a car (not an option in Fatu Hiva or Tahuata yet), you could only see one island that way.  We get to experience what few people do, a whole chain of islands and a remote way of life.  If they don't grow fresh fruits/vegetables, they won't have any.  There's a certain beauty to living away from people and providing for you own needs.  It's definitely not the most efficient way to live, but it's nice to have those freedoms.  There's a trade off there.  If every person has to grow their own bananas, oranges, pineapples, etc., they can't grow nearly as much as a mass production or industrialized plantation can grow.  All the time and energy is spent on just providing basic needs, not expanding to new levels of engineering, computing, development, etc.  But, if you don't have to buy fresh stuff, you can stock up and disappear for months at a time if you like, doing as you please.   Freedom or security?  Everyone has a different level of comfort here . . .  I think I'm more comfortable on the freedom side of the coin.

Got an email from a new friend boat that they passed the dismasted catamaran about 150 miles from the Galapagos.  It sounds as if they are going to make it back, disheartened as they may be, it'll sure be a memorable story to tell for years down the road.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Marquesas Island # 2

What is a rainbow caused by the moon called?  Well there was this fantastic white glowing ‘moonbow’ that appeared in the light drizzle around midnight last night as we were making our way to this anchorage.  It was a beautiful half circle with different shades of white and a magical glow throughout the interior of the arch.

This morning we awoke and found that there were these giant mantas swimming around the anchorage, gently flipping the tips of their wings into the air. Then just as casual as can be a pod of dolphins cruised by with their young. The water is quite clear and there are tropical fish and some coral.  We are anchored in about 14' of water, and the sandy bottom looks much closer.

Just another day in the South Pacific - - -


May 7, 2014 -

This morning, we were talking about leaving the island.  There is so much more to explore.  I wanted to tie up loose ends before we left, so I gathered things and we went to town.  I brought the lady who gave us the bread a lipstick.

We brought a set of sheets to the lady up the hill at the end of town.  She brought us into her house.  There was the manufactured house with a brick and mortar patio built out.  This was her kitchen.  She has a closet just bigger than the stove itself where she cooks.  There's a table on the patio where they appear to eat.  A cupboard with some dishes is also on the patio.  She showed us two sheep heads she had.  I believe they are wild on the island, so they hunted them.  She also brought out a necklace that she'd made.  It was boar teeth, goat horns separated by wooden beads.  She sells them at "Exposition" in Pape’ete, Tahiti, once a year.  It lasts for 2 weeks starting possibly June 22nd.  She said the whole town goes to Exposition to sell their arts - Tikis, tapas, necklaces, etc.  We hope to be able to get to Tahiti in time for some of it.  She picked us some mangos and oranges and gave us some dried fish.

We then went to the first house we'd done the trade with and said goodbye.  We went back to the dinghy and did some anchorage errands.  We'd lent some guidebooks to a new catamaran, so we picked those up.  Another family borrowed my camera for some pictures at the first night dinner for their daughter to do a blog.  They left to Nuku Hiva before I got them copies.  I put them on a thumb drive and gave them to another boat that is heading there later today and can give it to them.  The logistics are sometimes interesting out here.  And I'm sure they are fine without the pictures, but I also think they'd like to get them.  We picked up a kayak paddle the kids had left aboard another boat.

The prop on our dinghy is broken.  Working, but broken and we have to baby it.  Hopefully Courage's brother, Loyal, has ordered a new one to be delivered to Philadelphia.  The boat who we are giving the blog pictures to has a girl flying out on the 9th to meet up with them and if things go impressively well, she'll have a new prop for us with her.  We aren't sure when we're going to be in Nuka Hiva, or if they'll still be there, but it's closer to us in the Marquesas than in the states.  We'll meet up with them again sooner than later I'm sure!

So, we set sail at around 11:00am today for Tahuata.  Supposed to be one of the few beaches in the Marquesas that has sand, not rocks, and excellent snorkeling.  We shall see.  Another catamaran, the naked French boat, set sail just after us.  After some tacking and issues, they appeared to turn back.  We considered turning around and waiting for nicer winds, but we want to go, so we are going.

As we rounded the point, we saw a yellow mono-hull coming in.  It was our friends on Elena just arriving from the Galapagos!!  They are a British family with 3 boys; twins age 7 and a 9-year-old.  Happy to see them again!  They are going to Fatu Hiva, so we chatted on the radio and our reunion will be some time later.

We have turned out to have a lovely sail, slow going as it is.  The seas are calm with occasional gusts of winds from squalls. Since we left later and were going to arrive later, it actually works nice to have light winds, drift at sea, and arrive in the morning.  "Heave to" as it would be.  Basically hover until morning light to make your approach.

We already caught 2 tuna on our way here.  I was winding mine in, Courage his.  We could see both of them just behind the boat.  I was keeping tension on my rod, but something happened.  As I finally pulled mine up, my hook was hooked on Courage's line.  We both had seen two fish under water.  Courage thinks I gave slack on my line.  I think he cut me off and released my fish.  Either way, we got one lovely fish onboard and had it for dinner.  We have some for tomorrow also, so we are good.

Need to take baby to bed now; goodnight from the Marquesas.


May 6, 2014 - The Day of the Waterfall - -

In the morning, I caught up on some picture organizing, downloading, etc.  Courage took a few kids to a beach to burn the garbage.  There is no garbage service in this town and we now have 3 bags of it with flies in the first, not to mention diapers, etc.  We really would like to offload this somewhere.  He went all the way down to the other town, Omoa, then came back and ended up burning it at a beach near us.  They got back just in time for lunch.

After lunch, the kids and I loaded up and headed to find the waterfall for good.  Many of the boats were going up at 1:00pm.  We left at 12:30pm since we have many small people and the 3-year-old really wanted to come rather than stay at the boat and nap.  Weird.  The hiking is good as long as she does it; I'm not carrying her.  So Courage and the baby stayed at the boat for naptime and the other 5 kids and I headed out with snacks, water, and swim gear.  A lady walked with us part way and I was practicing my French with her.  She has 6 kids, mostly grown.  Intrepid was wheezing and she said honey was good for that.  She has honeybees and fruit trees.  She would like to have rope for a horse harness and sheets for a bed.  I told her I'd look and maybe we'll be back tomorrow.  She lives in the last house in town, one of the landmarks in the directions.  We said goodbye and followed the directions again. This time knowing we had to go up the hairpin turn and steep hill, then look for our turn off.  We found it easily.  It was a long hike for sure!  It was really nice along the dirt road.  There was a house, you cross a stream; you enter a jungle, then into the trees.  Finally, you pop out at a waterfall.  It's not a lot of water, but it does fall far down a rock cliff.  There's a large pool under it that is surrounded by rock walls on 3 sides.  The setting is what made it so nice.

The "naked French people" were there when we arrived.  We have a joke that the French people are always naked, it's not a guarantee, but it is based on some reality.  Now we are not talking about the French Polynesians, but the mainland Frenchmen.  They were from another catamaran in the anchorage.  We were getting ready to jump in and the rest of the cruisers arrived, even 7 kids!!  It was a swim party!!  It was very refreshing after a pretty warm hike.  There was a cliff and needless to say, Integrity saw a couple people jump in, then up he went.  He took a few jumps off the cliff.  He's crazy.  After swimming, talking, snacking, we headed out for a nice walk back down.

Along the way back down, two of the women were picking peppers from bushes growing next to the waterfall.  Only boat people would provision while out on a hike.  Impressive.  When we got to town, our new friend at the last house in town met us and gave Intrepid a cup with some honey in it to drink for his asthma.  His was great with this plan!  I think he's ready to replace inhalers with cups of honey!

We continued along and a little girl, maybe 6 or 7, chased us down, yelling "attend" which mean wait.  When we turned, she flashed us a plastic shopping bag.  Not sure what it was and confused by a stranger chasing us down, we stood looking at her.  Her mother told her to come show us, so she came and showed us a baguette, classic French bread.  I told the girl that I don't have anything to trade right now, but we're coming back in two hours.  She didn't understand me, so we walked back and told her mom.  For some reason her mom was sure that we should have it, and then picked some egg shaped green fruit and put them in the bag.  I told her I have nothing for change and she said no problem.  I asked if she wanted something, what would it be.  Guess what?  Perfume.  Not having that, she said lipstick.  That I do have.  I told her I'd come back in a couple hours, but she said she'd be at church, so maybe tomorrow.  She wasn't worried.

We needed to get back as we'd arranged for a local woman to prepare us dinner at her house that evening.  So we went back to the boat to get ready.  Two families were going this dinner.  She made rice, shredded coconut with salad dressing, fish (ceviche form), chicken chunks in coconut sauce, and octopus.  Very similar to the first dinner that Cassidy and I went to.  It was lovely.  I don't think I'll be craving this food.  The chicken chunks were mostly bones with shreds of chicken you could find on them.  The fish was incredibly chewy, very hard to chew down to something you could swallow.  The octopus was cooked well I guess.  I tried it once in the Galapagos and now here.  Similar.  It's just rubbery and I don't really see myself looking forward to eating something like this.  I like octopuses and don't find them that tasty, so I don't see it as a meal unless I'm starving.  We had "pamplemousse" for dessert - huge grapefruit!!

Much more interesting to me than the food was the house and family in it.  The woman who invited us has 6 children.  Two of them live there with her still; the others are grown and gone.  Her daughter has a 6-year-old daughter there also.  The 6-year-old was gorgeous!!  She had long thick black hair, smooth tan skin, just beautiful.  She has asthma, they heard Intrepid's asthma and wanted to cure him.  They wanted to give him amoxicillin because the girl has asthma and she was given this medication for it somehow.  I don't know, I thanked them, but declined.  They dressed the girl in "tapas" the bark from a tree that's pounded into cloth and made into native outfits.  They also put Innocence in it.  It was cute!  They wanted to sell it to us, but it would just mold and be destroyed on a boat.  We paid them for dinner in French Polynesian francs that we'd bought in Panama from a boat that had just returned.  The other family has just arrived and didn't have any.  They tried to go to the post office and exchange, but it's very informal and apparently rarely open. So we aren't sure they can exchange monies.  I told them it was no problem, we really don't need money here, we sold them some of ours.  We had enough to pay for the meals, but the woman didn't have change for the bills I had.  We owed her roughly $7.  The change she needed to give us would have been about $63, so we couldn't just let it go.  Instead, this other family had brought wine to exchange since they didn't have money.  So, they offered her a bottle of wine instead and she was fine with it.  They also worked a provisioning deal where they got a bunch of grapefruit and bananas in exchange for rum. The son brought the fruit to the dock area in a wheelbarrow.  So, they are all set until they get to an island with an ATM also!  We also gave them some of our eggs since we have too many from the Galapagos and they will probably rot onboard.  May as well share with someone who will use them.

I'm very happy with our provisioning before we left.  I've heard many people wishing they'd picked up this or that, had more to drink or trade, had more of this food item or that, etc.  I love that we need nothing.  We enjoyed trading our dollar store items for fresh fruits/veggies.  Fresh things are really the only thing we want/need.  We can use money for local arts and meals.  The meals were a little expensive, but it's a nice way to see the local foods, meet the people, and help them out.  They are after all putting out an effort to make money, not just begging, and so it's really a good deal for everyone.  But we don't have want for anything.  I am pleased to have brought some cheap, but valued items for trade.  I have some wine and alcohol I bought the day we left Panama after hearing how expensive it is out here, so I figured it would go up in value!  Better return than investing in gold.  I am happy with our food supplies, they last nicely each month, we run out of many things, but we aren't scraping the bottom of the barrel.  We are slightly overstocked on pancake mix and syrup, so maybe I can trade it for fresh fruits/veggies.  It has a long shelf life, so it'll be fine to keep until we need it.  We have probably 20# of trade items, not totally weighed down with it, but it's enough for probably all the fresh fruits we'll be wanting until Tahiti.  I don't think we can get away with trading in Tahiti.  We also understand that this "pamplemousse" (French grapefruit) is easy to get in the Marquesas, but valuable in the Tuamotus, so we'll probably stock up before we leave here.  I like that we are comfortable and can travel and trade wherever we'd like to, whenever we want to, without needing money or stores.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

And We Are Off -

The plan tomorrow is to head to another island. This new anchorage promises white sandy beaches, and fantastic snorkeling.

The "Bay of Virgins" has been fantastic, and we have really enjoyed the time and beauty of this enchanting island, but sometimes one must continue the journey.  It is tough deciding where the next perfect place to go is.  Do you go to the flower encrusted waterfalls, or the palm-lined sandy beach? Talk about stress!!!

There are these yellow wasps that congregate on all the boats here. Innocence managed to get stung twice before we even had the anchor down.  Apparently the goal is to hit the wasp with the fly swatter just hard enough to stun it. Then capture it in any sort of clear container; like the clean Tupperware, or the clear water jug.  I think the goal is to just have the most!!  Valiant on the other hand just wants a pet, and loves it when they climb from his little hand, up his arm, and onto his whitish blond hair. He does get quite upset though when Integrity tries to 're-stun' it with the fly swatter when the wasp is on his head.  And as you can imagine Valiant has been stung also.  Not sure if he has put 
2 and 2 together though!

Unfortunately there are no trash facilities here, so this morning we burned our last month’s trash. The toughest things to burn are of course the diapers. Even with the help of gasoline it's tough!!


May 5, 2014

We woke and went to shore with the great idea of going to find this elusive waterfall.  Many people have hiked to it; few have found it.  The directions are simple, but maybe too simple.  Go past the last house.  The road will turn to dirt.  Cross two bridges; don't go right.  That's basically it.  We hiked up past the last house, across a bridge, then there was a hairpin turn in the road up a hill which turned right, or a dirt road with a bridge to the left.  We went left.  We hiked up a ways.  A truck in 4WD passed us with 3 goats in the back, then a guy came with a cow and a dog.  I asked him, he said we were on the wrong road, and then he disappeared into the bushes.  We stopped for snack.  About 10 minutes later, he and the dog popped back out of the bushes without the cow and headed back down.  We hiked down, swam in the river under the bridge and headed back to town.  I went up the hairpin turn to look around, but there are no signs or directions giving an indication that you are or are not on the right track.  Coming down, we passed another boat family with 2 little girls hiking up.  We gave them our wrong turn information and off they went.  They found it; we were only half way there.  We may try with just some of the big people tomorrow. I think that if there was one "tourist attraction" to be had in the tour books and it was a waterfall that most people can't find, I would make a few road signs saying waterfall, 5 km with an arrow or something to place along the route.  But that's just me.

Back in town a lady inviting people to dinner at her house greeted us.  We negotiated a price and determined that kids were free.  She then went to the other boats and our other two families with kids are going to come also, so that will be nice.  We told her not tonight, we have a party on our boat, so tomorrow.  It took about 15 minutes, but we did it mostly in French!!  We'll get it!

We went home and did clean up and food preparation and rest after our hiking.  Around 5:00pm our friends came over for a potluck dinner.  Cruisers are so easy to host!  They bring food, their own drinks, their own plates and silverware and cups.  No one typically has plates for 20-30 people, so they know to come prepared.  Therefore dishes afterward are our standard evening dishes and the meals are much more exotic and the company quite entertaining.  I realized that our cultural exchange doesn't end onshore.  Our crowd was a Swedish family, Argentinean couple, Australian family, Swiss couple, American family and us (27 total).

We discussed many things, making yogurt, recipes, trading with the locals, the crossing, other boats still out there, etc. Poor Jean Marie which we heard many times on the net when we were crossing were staying north due to concerns about a counter current.  They had no wind.  When our group passed them by, they were 31 days out from Panama to mid-Pacific.  Apparently they are Swiss German and check into a German net in the evening, along with the Swiss couple that came over.  So Jean Marie is still out there with about 200 miles to go and almost no wind.  Maybe 2-3 days??  She thought they were around 38 days, I think it was well over a week since we passed them, so I'm saying they are at 40-45 days already!  Some decisions work better than others.  There is also another 40-foot catamaran out there, Escape Velocity, who was cruising acquaintances of a family here last night.  They apparently got dismasted about 600 miles from the Galapagos to here.  We've heard a little about them on the net, which sounded like they had jimmy rigged a 10-foot mast/sail and were coming west.  Other on land sources indicated that they were reportedly motoring back to the Galapagos.  We are quite curious to know what they decide to do and how they handle it.  Do you go slowly downwind in the same direction as everyone?  Or do you try to motor against the wind and waves back 600 miles?  How much fuel do they have?  What is their range?  From Galapagos, they'll have to try to fuel up and make Panama.  From here, they have to make Tahiti.  She was going to send the wife a SailMail and get the skinny.  I told her we can't go back 2300 miles, but we would happily go a week or so out, bring fruits/veggies/fuel, even an aluminum pipe to rig up a mast, so let us know if they are coming this way and want a welcoming party rendezvous out there (see, rendezvous, use of French!). 

So many boats will be basically passing them along the way; they are in good company!  The people are fine, they are just on a motorboat in the middle of the Pacific without a stockpile of fuel as if they were a motorboat.  The boat has been around the world twice, so it's proven itself in the past as being seaworthy.  Fascinating stories out there!  Makes our crossing look like a cakewalk.

Long and lovely day, so off to bed!


Monday, May 5, 2014

May 4, 2014 -

This morning we got up early to get started.  It was a gorgeous day.  We decided to go to the church this morning.  We read in the guidebooks that all Marquesans can sing.  Church is a great place to experience that.  We had our oats, dressed up all fancy like, and went to town.  When we arrived at the dinghy dock a large processional of people were there dressed very nicely.  There was a cart decorated with leaves and flowers in the middle.   They sang a few songs, and then proceeded to walk to the church while singing.  We followed to the church; there were a few other boat people also.  They were very pleasant and welcoming, they ushered us in.  We tried to stand in the back with the kids and baby, but they were sure we should go up in a pew near the front.  It was warm and humid in the church, we stood and they said some recitals for a few minutes.  I couldn't understand any of it.  They have a native language here, Marquesan, as well as French.  It's not like Hawaiian, but more similar to Hawaiian than most other languages.  It's a pretty language.  Then they sang some, then we sat down and they did some preaching.  After awhile, the kids became incredibly fidgety.  The baby was running in the aisle and walking up front.  A man brought him back, he was screaming about it, so we gathered up and left.  It might not have been a graceful exit, but it worked well for us.

We went for a nice walk through town and up.  The road follows a creek and has a couple of branches as it goes.  You pass a nice little waterfall.  Many of the yards have nice fruit trees growing in them.  A few houses have pigs at them; there are chickens and roosters, and some dogs.  We walked up to a house on a grassy plain on the river with a backdrop of gorgeous steep mountains.  

Many of the houses appear to be manufactured homes shipped here in a box.  Works very well for a place like this.  Makes for simple, but nice quality homes.  The yard are manicured and maintained, most with fruit trees, some with beehives.  There is no garbage on the ground.

As we walked back, we met a man and a 4-year-old boy who were going home from church.  They were very pleasant and we practiced our French with them.  It's not coming as smoothly as I would like it to.  Every time I try to think of a word, it comes out in Spanish.  I think it'll come with use.  I sure hope so.
We were saying goodbye, then he asked if we needed any fruit.  He said free fruit to Courage.  I didn't hear that.  I hadn't brought any money to town, but did bring a bag of things to "trade."  I've heard from other boats that they don't want money.  They want to trade something.  There's a small store in town, but I think it has limited groceries only.  It's hard for them to turn money into items.
They are asking especially for perfume.  Wish I'd had known, but I don't have or carry perfume.  Nor do any of the other boaters from what I'm hearing.  But, they also want lipstick, nail polish, earrings, fish hooks, rope, or "whatever you have."   They are also tickled about alcohol, even partially drunk stuff.  The boats were embarrassed to trade it, but the islanders were fully satisfied with the exchange of half a bottle of wine for fresh fruit.  So, the guy walks us to his house and starts pulling down oranges for us.  Then lemons.  He sent his son for grapefruit.  I showed him my bag of things, but he said his wife was at the store and wait for her. He showed us his "Tiki" woodcarvings.  He carves it, his wife finishes/polishes it.  Twice a year they go to Tahiti to sell them.  That's their business.  He owns his land, grows much of his food, and tomorrow he leaves for a week in a boat to the next valley to hunt wild boars.  Last time he went, he got 9 of them.  They set traps, which hog-tie them.  His wife returned from the store pushing a wheelbarrow with her groceries.  She had frozen friable chicken parts, salt and butter.  Interesting allotment.  She chose a 10 pack of earrings, lipstick, scented body gel, reading glasses, and sunglasses for kids.  Each item was about $1 at Costco, in Panama.  Obviously based on shipping, logistics, the values go up here, but to what I have no idea since I've never been in a store around here.  They threw in a branch of bananas and 2 coconuts.  So, we got oranges, limes, grapefruit (as big as Intrepid's head), bananas and coconuts for about $5.  So I was super pleased with that provisioning run.  And they were happy to.  She did ask again about perfume.  Yeah, win-win!!

We brought the groceries out, then Cassidy and I returned to shore for a demonstration of their local crafts.  They make tapas, which is from a bark that they pound until it's like a cloth.  They made headdresses from them and a skirt/bikini top type thing from them.  They also showed us a bundle of plants that smell nice that they bundle together and put in their hair "to attract men."  It was nice.  I was giving some cream to a lady who asked me about her eczema yesterday when another lady came to ask about her husband's shoulder that he injured playing soccer the day before.  He wasn't there, but the main thing to do was let it rest for a couple weeks then gentle range of motion.  She asked for pain medications.  The lady translating was certainly hesitant about sharing, to make sure we had enough, but I have a Costco bottle of Tylenol and we really don't take it for anything, so I don't mind sharing a few.

We then returned to our boat, the mother and two boys from our family we did the fruit exchange with came out to our boat.  She brought us a soda bottle filled with fresh honey from their bees.  They have about 6 beehives.  She had asked for shoes for her 4 year old.  We found a pair of water shoes that our boys have outgrown that fit him.  He was pleased.  Also she asked for a flashlight.  She said she could bring us another 2 bottles of honey for the flashlight (for change)??  We found one for her and told her honey was fine, or we really like bananas.  She asked if I had kitchenware to exchange, but I told her I didn't have any extra, just what we have for use.  The 10-year-old boy really wanted a mask and tube, but we need it for the kids.  Courage said all the locals that see the goggles in the dinghy really want them.  (Should probably take those out and hide them).  The younger boy wanted a toy.  All ours were either treasured by the kids or broken and only parts of a toy.  I will pull one out of the bilge that the kids haven't bonded with and give it to him today I think.

Two more kid boats arrived yesterday making our group that we were expecting complete!!  Such a fun group.

The rest of the evening, first our kids kayaked to Field Trip to welcome them.  Then we went swimming and all the kids came to our boat.  Quite a gaggle.  The parents came and went by checking on everyone, but the kids were quite content jumping off the bow tube and just swimming around.  It is so nice for kids to have their own transportation.  They just grab a boogie board, a kayak, or an inflatable tube and move around from boat to boat.  Makes them quite independent.


Arrival!! - May 3, 2014

So we arrived yesterday morning to one of the most beautiful islands ever!!  The guide book does warn that any land after 20 days appears to be gorgeous, but this island has steep jagged rocky cliffs with lush green vegetation and clear deep blue water.  It's truly gorgeous, even if you've only been at sea for 19 days!  The harbor has an incredible view of two large rock cliffs and a green grassy valley behind/between them.  When the sun hits the valley it's awesome!

There were 12 boats here when we arrived, 2 more came that evening making a total of 15 in the relatively small harbor.  We were surprised at the numbers here, but then again, there were 11 on the net with us . . . The kid boats were all here, except two still crossing and it was a warm welcome.  We got anchored and settled in.  While we were anchoring our new friend Harry, the single hander on the mono-hull who was near us much of the time and ran the net often came over in his dinghy to tell us about the harbor, what parts were sand/rock, good and not so good.  It was nice.  We settled in, tidied up a bit inside while Courage dove on the boat.  He retrieved the fishing line from our rudder and cleaned the sides.  We'd grown a fair amount of sea grass along the sides.  If you wait for it to dry out and set up it's really hard to clean.  It was naptime for the little guys, etc.  The bigger guys went to shore for an hour or so to get some solid ground and play some energy off.  There was a traditional dance and dinner the night of our arrival, so we drew straws to go.  Cassidy babysat for us to go cave exploring the night before we left, so she earned a trip to dinner and show.  Courage had been up all night watching out for a reef, so was tired and conceded to stay home; therefore I went.

The time was an hour and a half off of what we had on our clocks, so we went in at 5:00pm for the 6:30pm dinner on accident.  Valiant came to drop us off and was so sad when we left; he came in with us for a walk before the dinner.  We went up the main road for an excellent walk.  I wonder what valiant's short-term memory is like, but he was soooo excited about EVERYTHING!  He had a permanent grin, was soo wiggly, laughing, pointing, and yelling about everything that passed.  He really liked anything that moved, people, animals, water, etc.  People greeted us very friendly, "Bonjour", "Bonsoir" as we went.  A lady gave Valiant an orange.  He loved it.  She offered us a couple, but we didn't take her things.  It was a super pleasant walk to stretch our legs and see the town before dinner.

Dinner was interesting.  There were probably 7 plastic tables lined up together in a horseshoe pattern with plates of food in the middle.  There was fried chicken, shredded pulpo (? green papaya) with ginger sauce, fried breadfruit (like French fries), raw fish in lemon juice (ceviche in Spanish?), and boiled chicken chunks (with bones) and pulpo in coconut sauce.  The drink was pitchers of bright pink something that tasted a lot like bubblegum.  I was thirsty though.  Then they started with some music, which they played by tapping on bamboo, guitars and bongo like drums.  A kid, maybe 4 or 5 years old was drumming right in beat on the garbage can lid also.  Then 7 women came out to dance.  It was very nice.  Similar to Hawaiian dancing it seemed to me with hip shaking and hand gestures.  After some dances, they pulled the guys up there and had them do some dance moves, then the women up there to try them.  They had us first doing the shake, then trying to make ground while shaking - left, right, front, back.  Then came the roulette, where they lost most of us.  This was a circular hip movement that was nearly impossible.  The evening was fun.  One of the cruisers is from Australia, but grew up in Paris.  She translated many things for us making the cultural exchange easier.

What a beautiful welcome - - gorgeous landscape, pleasant locals, great families out cruising, some new friends and some old ones (that we've known for a month or so).  Great to be at land, even better to be here!!