Tag Archives: marquesas

Sunset on Sugar Shack

Tahuata’s Main Village of Vaitahu

We decided to head to Vaitahu, the “main village” of Tahuata which is about 2nm south of Hanamoenoa Baie.  A quick motor and we dropped the hook near our friends on Maple.  This is a super small village with 2 snacks, 1 magasin, 2 churches and a post office.  That’s it.  Small and simple and full of lovely people!

Vaitahu in Tahuata

Vaitahu in Tahuata

A Wedding

The day we arrived there was a local wedding.  Of course, we had to go check it out (from the outside).  It was held in the beautiful Catholic church with an enormous stain glass window.  It is tradition to invite everyone in Vaitahu to the ceremony and then feed everyone in the town.  Even crazy tourists and cruisers like us.  We declined, but it was a super nice gesture.

Wedding island style

Wedding island style

We found a short hike to another cross at the entrance of Vaitahu.  It was only 20 minutes to the cross, but it was straight up hill about 2.7 miles.  It had beautiful views of the bay.

Hike Photos

Hike Photos

A New Tattoo

No, not for me (yet).  Our friend Daryl on Maple got a new tattoo.  It was done the modern way, but still pretty painful.  The tattoo artist works in his carpark with a nice breeze.  It took several hours to draw out the design including strength, family, Marquesan cross, tiki, and more.

Drawing the Tattoo

Drawing the Tattoo

Then the fun began with the outline, then the filling and the beautiful finished product.

Daryl's Tattoo is all done

Daryl’s Tattoo is all done

I went to church on Sunday and was a little frustrated because it was super-hot and I could not understand anything.  For some reason, I just did not have my heart in it, but I did enjoy the beautiful singing, church, and lovely people.

Church with stained glass

Church with stained glass

Vaitahu has two snacks, but the popular one is called Chez Jimmy whichhas the most interesting herb garden made out of used, plastic, wine bottles.  So clever!

Wine bottle garden at Jimmy's

Wine bottle garden at Jimmy’s

A couple of beautiful sunsets to wrap up our evenings and we’ve fallen in love with Vaitahu.

Sunset on Sugar Shack

Vaitahu Sunset on Sugar Shack

Tahuata: Harmony Bay

After almost a month of living in a $hitty anchorage we were ready for a quiet bay.  We left Ua Pou for a serene bay on Tahuata (prounced “ta-who-a-ta).  It was a 60nm sail heading south.  We enjoyed a lovely day with full sails and light winds.  With an average of 6-7 kts in boat speed we had hoped to catch a fish on our passage.  Matt had 3 lines out. 

Fishing, not catching

The first zing ended abruptly with a lost lure and no fish.  The second zing was even shorter with no actual hook on the fish.  The third was a doozy.  We caught a large 100lb+ yellow fin tuna.  Matt fought bravely with this fish for 3 hours.  Reeling him, then the fish dove deep and/or swam away from the boat.  Then we reel him and rinse and repeat for 3 hours.  Matt was exhausted and had blisters on his hand from reeling it in for so long. Just when we thought the fish was either tired or dead, the reel went zing again – smoking fast almost to the braid.  Then nothing.  A damn shark took our prize and left us with nothing, not even the lure.  That was 3 bites, 2 lost lures, and 1 three-hour fight.

Its called "fishing" not "catching"

Its called “fishing” not “catching”

When we pulled into Hanamoenoa bay it made up for the disaster fishing day.  The beauty was astounding.  Manta rays, dolphins and a few sharks call this oasis home.  A sweet sandy beach lined with palm trees lays serenely at the base of the green mountains.  Only one person, Stephen, lives in this picturesque bay.

Drone shot from shore toward the anchorage at sunrise.

Tahuata at Harmony Bay

Tahuata at Hanamoenoa Bay

Another drone shot from the sea facing the shore.

Hanamoenoa Bay

Hanamoenoa Bay

We were invited onto Flip Flops for Christmas lunch along with our friends on Maple.  A few other boats stopped by as well for the pot luck.  It was a lovely day meeting new friends and enjoying tasty food.

QUICK TRIP TO HIVA OA

Wayne flew in to Hiva Oa the day after Christmas.  Matt and I left Hanamoenoa bay at 0515 and motored over to Baie Tahauku in Hiva Oa.  It was only 10nm away, but it was directly into the wind, waves, and current.  We managed to arrive 2.5 hours later which was great as we had a lot to do before Wayne arrived at noon.  We filled up on gasoline, made a quick provision run at the local market and returned everything to the boat.  Then we grabbed the empty beer bottles and cart and walked 2.8 miles to the village.  We return the empty bottles and buy new full ones at a cheaper price.  We loaded up on beer and more provisions and nabbed a ride back to the dock.  Just as we finished unloading, Wayne arrived.

Hiva Oa Main Anchorage

Hiva Oa Main Anchorage

We unpacked all of our treasures that Wayne so graciously brought to us.  A trip into town to explore in greater detail was in order.  We hoofed it back into town in search of food, but ended up finding beer.  We were all tired so we did not make it a late night.  Some fun photos in Hiva Oa’s main village of Atuona

Hiva Oa Explorations

Hiva Oa Explorations

Tahuata

We left early the next morning for Hanamoenoa bay. Back in our new favorite anchorage!  The water is a turquoise blue and you can see all the way to the white sandy bottom sea floor.  We tried to snorkel with the mantas but they swam away from us.  So, instead we enjoyed the pretty fish and cool waters.

Stephen came by the boat around dinner time and showed us how to make a traditional Marquesan meal.  He brought some octopus and coconuts along with a coconut carving tool.  He showed Matt how to cut the octopus and showed Wayne how to carve the coconut.  Once the coconuts were carved, we squeezed the milk out of the shavings.  The sauce turned out good, but the boys said the octopus was a bit “chewy” and needed another 20-30 minutes of boiling, but the sauce was tasty.

Dinner local style

Dinner local style

Matavaa Festival: Marquesan Cultural Festival Part I

The Marquesan Cultural Festival called “Matavaa” is only held once every four years.  The location rotates between the islands and this year it was held in Ua Pou.   It is the 12th event that will bring in participants from six Marquesan islands (Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, Tahuata, Ua Pou, and Fatu Hiva).  It will also include participants with Marquesan heritage from Rapai Nui (Easter Island) and two teams from Tahiit (Maohu Nui Ahima and Toko Henua). 

This is not like most traditional festivals.  It is a cultural celebration to pass down Marquesan traditions to the younger generations through dance, song, music, tattooing (traditional and modern), and carving (wood, stone, and bone).  They do not host sporting activities, but they do have educational conferences, exhibitions of stone and wood carvings, tattooing (traditional and modern) and of course song and dance.

Opening Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies started with a parade of all the participants including dancers, musicians, artists, and delegates.  Each of the 9 groups gave a 15-20-minute performance.  They had a few speeches and raised the three flags (French, French Polynesia, and Marquesas).  After a short break, we all walked the mile back to the beach for the next ceremony.

Matavaa Opening Ceremonies

Matavaa Opening Ceremonies

Our favorite group, Rapa Nui captured my heart the first day.  Their passion and love for story telling through dance was contagious!

Rapa Nui Opening Performance

Rapa Nui Opening Performance

The next event was the receiving of the traditional Marquesan catamaran which carried the Matavaa Tiki.  Ua Pou’s dancers and drummers covered the beach while several other island performers climbed up on the rocks lining the pier.  We all awaited the arrival of the vessel.   As the small boat came in, the dancers welcomed the crew in with their sultry performances.

Welcoming the Tahiti Nui

Welcoming the Tahiti Nui

Artisan Market

An artisan market was set up near the main stadium which had many spectacular displays.  Artists were selling ukuleles, painted parchments, stone carvings, jewelry, wood carvings, baskets, purses, feathers, pearls, and oh so much more.

Artisan Market Wares

Artisan Market Wares

Celebratory Lunch

The locals hosted a free lunch for everyone.  It was really fascinating watching the preparation of the traditional pig BBQ in the ground.  The had 6 pits, cooked 3 huge pigs wrapped in banana leaves, and served in the gorgeous traditional wood serving platters. 

Preparing the Underground Pig Feast

Preparing the Underground Pig Feast

A host of volunteers served the food to all those that clambered toward the tables.  But they were very nice and super generous with the portions.

The Matavaa festival was “green” and had no plastic serving plates, utensils or cups.  Therefore, you had to bring your own or make your own with leaves.  It was an entire Marquesan meal.  We used our super cool Think Sport Travel plate with its own fork and spoon.

Free Lunch for All

Free Lunch for All

Carving of Stone

I always wondered how the stone carvings happened.  Off to the side of the main stadium were 9 covered areas with large, various shaped stone rocks.  Each island group received their rock and crafted a master piece.  The first group started with a shortish, fat rock and created 3 tiki heads of a mother and her two children.  The lower left photo is the initial rock, the lower right shows it part of the way drawn and carved, and then the final product (4 days of work).

Stone Carving Competition

Stone Carving Competition

Another really cool sculpture and its progression.

Stone Carving Competition #2

Stone Carving Competition #2

Several other stone sculptures carved at the festival.  One sculpture had a front and back.  They carved long braided hair on the back.

Stone Carving Competition #3

Stone Carving Competition #3

Carving of Tikis

Each island group received a large tree trunk to carve as they pleased.  Using numerous chain saws and other various wood carving tools they created master pieces in a matter of days!  Of course, I had a few favorites that I followed from beginning to end.  This large tiki was a true work of art.

Wood Carving Competition #1

Wood Carving Competition #1

My favorite group was from Rapa Nui.  Mostly because they had great facial expressions and looked like they truly loved doing what they were doing.  From the dancers, to the drummers, to the wood carvers.  We watched the carving of the Rapa Nui Moai from a huge tree trunk to the finished product and it was amazing.

Wood Carving Rapa Nui

Wood Carving Rapa Nui

I met this super nice man who was carving a small stone tiki.  He was so very nice and talented.  I wanted him to make me a tiki but could not imagine where I would put it.  Another carver was selling medium size wooden tikis made of rosewood at the artisan market.

Stone and Wood Carvings

Stone and Wood Carvings

Tattoo

We attended an educational conference on the history of traditional tattooing.  It was absolutely fascinating to learn why the received tattoos, what it meant, and how they were done (traditional style).  Each person would write their story on their body through tattoos.  It is not an alphabet format but rather indicative of nature.  Children do not get their first tattoo until they are about 14 years old (after their skin stops stretching).  It is a huge celebration as it indicates the transition from childhood to man/womanhood.

Traditional tattoos are implanted using tree bark and human bone.  The bone transfers “mana” into the recipient and is very painful.  It is actually called “tatto-o” like “ow.”  The top left photo is the modern tattoo process and all of the other 5 photos are traditional tattoo process. 

Tattoo: Modern and Traditional

Tattoo: Modern and Traditional

Tattoo is the telling of a story, each tattoo holds significant meaning and is placed on the body for specific relevance.

Tattoos on Performers

Tattoos on Performers

Be sure to see Part II of Matavaa Festival: Marquesan Cultural Festival Part I