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).