Archive for May 14, 2018

Taiohae, Nuku Hiva

     After eight days at sea we sailed toward Taiohae bay on the island of Nuku Hiva on the morning of January 19.  The last time we were here, in 2016, it was cloudy & rainy as we approached the island, but today it was beautiful and sunny.

13. Nuku Hiva  97. Nuku Hiva

Lots of passengers were out on the front deck as we sailed past some of the mountains & rock formations & the crew were out there too, serving coffee & “Nuku Hiva Rolls,” which tasted remarkably like Panama Canal rolls.

7. Nuku Hiva  1. Nuku Hiva  47. Nuku Hiva  50. Nuku Hiva  57. Nuku Hiva  116. Nuku Hiva  107. Nuku Hiva  101. Nuku Hiva

     Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesa Islands.  It was famous in the 19th century as the island where Herman Melville lived for several months with a village of cannibals, which he turned into his best selling novel Typee.  In 2016 we went on a very beautiful tour of the island, which you can see here:

So for this visit we decided to explore Taiohae ourselves on foot.  It was a very short tender ride from the ship to the dock, but three tenders went out of commission with engine issues almost immediately so we were not able to get to shore until about noon.  We went up to the Lido deck where they were distributing tender tickets, then sat near the pool waiting for them to reach our number.  From there we saw some local fellows in canoes following in the wake of the tenders (once they got going again).  When they are able to do it correctly the tender wake pulls them along without paddling and this seems to be a popular sport in several of the islands we visited.

2. Nuku Hiva  4. Nuku Hiva  195. Nuku Hiva

     We finally made it onto a tender & then to the dock.  We were greeted by local musicians & dancers who handed each visitor a flower bud to wear behind an ear.  An impromptu market was set up behind the dock, selling everything from produce to t-shirts to wood carvings.  Nuku Hiva is famous for its wood carvers; most of the Tiki sculptures for sale everywhere on the Polynesian islands are made here (and so the prices for them are much better here than elsewhere).

123. Nuku Hiva  122. Nuku Hiva  120. Nuku Hiva  121. Nuku Hiva

     On a hill above the dock & clearly visible from the ship is a large tiki style statue of a woman.  This is new since our last visit & reportedly very unpopular with the locals.  We had to agree with their view, especially after seeing the back of the tiki that has a warrior apparently emerging from the woman.

117. Nuku Hiva  233. Nuku Hiva

     We began the approximately 2 mile walk from the dock to the end of the road on the other side of the bay.  It is a very beautiful walk, with many colorful flowers, mountain views & views across the water.  While some of the mountains were green the lower areas were quite dry & the flowers much less lush than last time we were here.  We were told there had been no rain for three months.  Still, there was a lot of beauty.

110. Nuku Hiva  92. Nuku Hiva  130. Nuku Hiva  126. Nuku Hiva  132. Nuku Hiva  125. Nuku Hiva  131. Nuku Hiva  136. Nuku Hiva  133. Nuku Hiva  141. Nuku Hiva  138. Nuku Hiva

     About half way across the bay is the Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame.  Unlike any other cathedral we have seen, this one is full of wood carvings covering doors & the pulpit as well as the stations of the cross on the walls.  The figures look like Polynesians rather than Europeans (the actual people depicted, of course, were Semites from the Middle East), with other Polynesian touches, such as breadfruit trees instead of olive trees in the garden.  The building is constructed of stones brought from each of the Marquesas Islands. Very special.

170. Nuku Hiva  156. Nuku Hiva  161. Nuku Hiva  172. Nuku Hiva  158. Nuku Hiva  157. Nuku Hiva  165. Nuku Hiva  152. Nuku Hiva  168. Nuku Hiva

     In front of the cathedral is an arch with two towers, which may be a remnant of an earlier church. Behind the cathedral is a very colorful garden.  Two interesting Jewish references.  Across the courtyard from the church is a smaller building with carved wood pillars.  One of them is Moses with the ten commandments.  Interestingly, he is depicted with horns on his head, perhaps derived from Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses in Rome.  The horns come from a mistranslation of the Torah, which says Moses had beams of light, rather than horns, emanating from his head when he brought the tablets down.  The other is a star of David carved into the inside of one of the doors.  We don’t know what the inscription says or what it was intended to represent.

261. Nuku Hiva  153. Nuku Hiva  254. Nuku Hiva  169. Nuku Hiva  150. Nuku Hiva

     Continuing on, we visited the memorial to Herman Melville, a carved wood pillar.  Apparently some French officials were expected to visit in a few days, so workmen were out refurbishing the thatched roof of a platform near the water.  Some women were busy weaving palm fronds into mats, presumably as part of this project.  Some outrigger canoes were stored near the shore as well. And we walked past a cemetery, with white concrete & stone graves similar to others we have seen in Polynesia.

186. Nuku Hiva  199. Nuku Hiva  201. Nuku Hiva  202. Nuku Hiva

      This is a good place to show you some of the many brightly colored flowers that were all around.  Noticeably fewer than in 2016 because of the lack of rain, but still a lot. Most of these flowers are on trees or bushes.  As usual, the names of the few we know are in the pop-up captions.

129. Nuku Hiva  144. Nuku Hiva  135. Nuku Hiva  147. Nuku Hiva  145. Nuku Hiva  205. Nuku Hiva  200. Nuku Hiva  194. Nuku Hiva  188. Nuku Hiva  215. Nuku Hiva  224. Nuku Hiva  227. Nuku Hiva

     We visited a very tiny museum of Nuku Hivan artifacts at the very end of the road around the bay.  It had one small room of artifacts, some of which were many hundreds of years old, and the other room was a gift shop.  The owner, Rose, was really friendly and helped explain what we saw.  After that we walked up the hill behind the museum to a restaurant highly recommended for its food and its view of the bay.  Unfortunately, after we reached the top of the hill, panting in the heat & humidity, we found that it was closed for renovation!  Why couldn’t they have put a sign to that effect at the bottom of the hill? 

     Anyway, after admiring the view from just under the restaurant we walked back down the hill & stopped into the small restaurant in front of the museum.  Our friends Peggy & Bill were still with us, the rest of the group having turned back long before.  We had Hinano beer, the main Polynesian brand, and Poisson Cru.  Made of raw tuna, some salad ingredients & coconut milk, it was quite delicious.

208. Nuku Hiva  214. Nuku Hiva  210. Nuku Hiva  229. Nuku Hiva  228. Nuku Hiva  223. Nuku Hiva  217. Nuku Hiva

      Much refreshed, we made the long walk back across the bay to the tender dock.  There were several groups of families at different spots along the bay having picnics & swimming.  We did a little shopping at the dock, then boarded the tender for the short ride back to the ship.

230. Nuku Hiva  258. Nuku Hiva

     We sailed away from Nuku Hiva at sunset.  It was a very dramatic sunset, which deserves more than one picture.

244. Nuku Hiva  248. Nuku Hiva  247. Nuku Hiva

     So as we sail away from beautiful Nuku Hiva, we will leave you with a couple of towel animals, preparatory to a good night’s sleep.

9. At Sea to Nuku Hiva13. At Sea to Nuku Hiva