We are now in the northern Marquesas. Our best laid plans for a visit to Fatu Hiva (to the south) were re-arranged by 23 knot headwinds. We turned around and rode the winds north, to rugged Ua Pou Island.
While I was drawing on the beach in the little town there, some bored children wandered by.
Soon they had raided my art supplies and were drawing and painting. Though we could barely communicate with their fragments of English and my slender French, we had a good time together and they presented me with their paintings “pour le souvenir.”
The boat in the painting is the Aranui, a cargo boat which visits the island every two weeks or so. It has been supplying the Tuamotus and Marquesas from Tahiti for over twenty years. The new ship is 104 meters long. The front is a cargo ship with cranes and open decks. The back is a passenger ship with cruise ship accommodation: several decks, a mini-swim pool, sundeck, dining room, bar, library, and the odd expert on French Polynesian culture. Check out my friend Elain’s illustrated blog for a fascinating description of her travels on the Aranui3 last year.
The people here seemed at first to be a little aloof, but I've come to understand that they are not unfriendly, they are simply dignified. Once you stop and talk to them, you will soon find yourself being driven up a valley to find fresh pamplemousse, or to meet a carver who is the brother of a friend…
And, of course, they are more connected to the world than they seem at first glance. My young friends laughed hysterically over a recounted episode of the TV show Hannah Montana. And the guy who drove us to the carvers wore dreads and popped what sounded like Polynesian reggae into the CD player.
Later that day we walked past a quiet garden scented with plumeria and shaded with breadfruit. On the house wall, a hand-painted sign Carpe Diem.
We are now in Nuku Hiva to re-supply, then off to the more remote Tuomotus to the south.