Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Marquesas Islands

 We are in the land of abundant mountain peaks, friendly islanders, fruit, beaches and exploration.   Food dominates our days and a typical breakfast is determined by what’s ripe in our many fruit baskets.  Today, for example, I rowed our dinghy (little inflatable boat we use to get around) to shore and sought out 4 baguettes.  With those, Sylvie made French toast while I squeezed fresh OJ. We then had a huge papaya, a mango, two pamplemousses (big sweet grape fruits) and then some baguette dipped in nutella to top it all off. For good measure we usually manage to drink in a coconut or two, which we husk ourselves with a machete.  But today we skipped the cocos because we were too full, which is the norm. 

As if the breakfasts weren’t severe enough, here’s what happened while we were in the town of Taitahu on Tahuata island.  We (our friends aboard Saltbreaker and us 2 on Ustupu) decided that we’d have an Umu with a fresh chicken.  An umu is a underground bbq that you burry in the sand.  We spent the better part of two days cutting new trails in the island tracking rooster sounds.  We never actually saw the foul because the brush was so thick but we stalked them long and hard.  In the process we were hiking the steep cliffs of the island so it wasn’t all bad but we didn’t catch a chicken.  We decided instead we’d use fish.  One morning of fish spearing later and we had 15 fish for our umu.  The umu was a relative success but we still wanted to shoot a chicken with my sling shot.

A day or two later were at one of the two stores in town talking to the owner and he decided to give us a gigantic lobster to welcome us to town.  A truck then pulls up to where we’re hanging out and scoops up the three guys from Saltbreaker and takes them off to collect as much fruit as they can fit in a the back of the pickup truck.  I saw my opportunity to get us a chicken so I asked a local guy how to obtain a chicken.  He starts clicking his mouth (the loud sound you make to imitate a ticking clock) and chickens start appearing from all over the place.  He makes a little slip knot out of string and throws rice all over it.  Before you know it there are a dozen chickens wandering around the trap.  I see a fat hen walk over the trap and he doesn’t pull the string, he waits a few more minutes until this tall cock shows up and that’s our meal.  I’ll spare you the details of the killing and cleaning but suffice to say that we ate well with our lobster, fresh rooster and box of fruit that night. 

Our lives here are pretty simple.  There is almost no internet and when you find it you pay or you have to sit in the post office so we don’t get online much.  Most of our time is occupied with foraging fruit, thinking about where we’ll go next and reminiscing about recent meals. 

We first arrived at one of the biggest island in the group called Hiva Oa, we then sailed a solid 9 miles to the island of Tehuata.  We sailed overnight to Oa Pou, which is where we are currently anchored.  We’ll sail north to Nuku Hiva, the most populous island of the group before we head to the Tuamotu Archipelago.

As always, Sylvie and I are doing great.  No major injuries, however, lots of stubbed toes, some bad homemade haircuts, and a sun burn here or there. 

A bien tot,

Dan, Sylvie & Ustupu

PS.  Sorry for the lack of communication.  Internet is slow and you can only find it in the big cities.  Will upload pics when we are able to.