FRENCH POLYNESIA – MARQUESAS

On June 22, 2008, it took us three (3) hours and fifteen (15) minutes by Air Tahiti  to reach Nuku Hiva which is one of the fifteen (15) islands comprising Marquesas with a total population of eight thousand two hundred. Only six (6) islands are inhabited. Nuku Hiva has a population of two thousand three hundred.
 

Our plane touched down at the  Nuku Ataha Airport.

 

The journey  of around one hour  to Taiohae Village was exciting because of shifting sceneries through Terre Deserte (which is dominated by sands and bushes), Mount Teka which has 1,220 meters elevation (which is culminated by green pine trees similar to those growing in Baguio), Toovii Plateau which is likened to the USA Grand Canon and/or mountains of Bavaria Mt. Muake which has eight hundred sixty four (864) meters elevation with varying flora culminating with an overview of the Taiohae with the Taiohae Bay surrounded by basalt arguelles  (needles).

 

From my perspective,  I am reminded of the Taal lake and the volcanoes thereto  but far more dramatic and beautiful.

 

Incidentally, in the course of our trip I became curious about the name of the driver whom I find difficulty understanding him because  of the hoarseness of his voice.  He said his name is Sorethroat.

 

Both me and my companion would not know whether to smile or not because he was serious.

 

We checked in at the Keikahanui Pearl Nuku Hiva for lunch.

 

Due  to the spectacular views we have been seeing, I excitingly took picture of the surroundings. The Manager of the hotel took the initiative of borrowing  my portable digital camera to take pictures of both me and my companion.

 

It was unfortunate that the Manager failed to hold firmly my camera so it fell off thus destroying it.  I wondered why of all times this would happen considering the beautiful surroundings.

 

I took the  situation in strides  prompting  me to rely on my old camera which is not digital and does not have the mechanism of retrieving pictures taken for possible editing.

 

In the afternoon, I visited Rose Corser, the former owner of the hotel who is focusing her attention to her museum boutique. It appears to be sole repository of authentic pieces as there is no other museum in the area.

 

During the next day, I made an early morning walk to see the other parts of Taiohae. I saw the Herman Melville memorial  which appears to have been defaced .

 

I also saw the Piki Vehine Pae Pae  also known as Theme, an open-air museum  in form of  an ah (traditional house).

 

Though I was fascinated with the  tikis  and other sculpture thereto, I could not take photos because I was reserving the traditional film of my old camera for the archaeological tour in the later part of the day.

 

With God’s intervention, thanks to the Chinese industry, its miscellaneous store was opened. I hurriedly bought traditional films for my traditional camera. I immediately returned to the site to take photos  of  sculptures and artifacts.

 

After breakfast, I joined the whole day archaeological tour. At the start, my guide  made a commentary that all the statues at the park  are only imitation, to my disappointment.

 

We thereafter proceeded  towards the direction of Taipivai which is sixteen kilomenters (16 km) from Taiohae.

 

It took us nearly an hour to reach the place.

 

The principal source of livelihood in the area is copra.

 

From  Taipivai on our way to Hatiheu, we stopped at a certain point to begin the  thirty minute uphill wall to the Paeke  archaeological site.

 

I finally saw at least four images of tikis which are genuine  and original. They are situated within the   maraes which are sacrificial  places made up of basalt rocks.

 

We thereafter visited the Hikokua,  Kamuihei and Tahakia archaeological sites. These sites are situated near  Picus  or the  Banyan trees.  The banyan tree of  the latter site is so huge that it was utilized as prison cell for twenty people.

 

According to the guide, these structures have been in existence from one thousand two hundred to one thousand four hundred years. I have observed  the banyan trees are considered holy not only by the Marquesans but by other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

 

We thereafter proceed to  Hatiheu Valley whose charm likewise caught the attention of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. The town’s focal  part is the wooden church.

 

The striking landmarks before arriving at the place are the towering limestones. On top of one of them is the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

After Hatiheu we visited Hooumi which is a charming hamlet  fronting the scenic sea and beach

 

At the end of the day, I realized that only a handful of tikis  could be found in the locality and that they were probably removed to be placed elsewhere like the Museum of Tahiti where we saw many of them.

 

The following morning, we joined the speedboat to Aakapa. The description of the tour is that you would be able to see some archaeological sites and waterfalls, etc.

 

Indeed, we saw two waterfalls, maraes  but never the elusive  tikis.

 

We learned also that the place was the venue of the 2003 Marquesas Survival Contest.

 

The following morning,  while awaiting the ride back to the airport, I saw a bare breasted girl in the vicinity.

 

Notwithstanding the present day modernity, Tahitian and Marquesans subconsciously could probably be more attuned adopting to their own get up (with due respect).

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