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Colorful characters and old traditions in Nuku Hiva - Blog by Sandy

OoH Mar 16, 2015, by Sandy Eschler in Yacht

After spending a peaceful night in a secluded bay about three miles from the main town of Taiohae, we are journeying on to our next destination. It is located approximately 500 nm SSW of Nuku Hiva. It is an atoll, so we should have a different water clarity.

I had a lovely time in Nuku Hiva as it is an environment, which provokes a lot of thought. This island is literally out in the middle of nowhere, yet one does not feel isolated. One of the most interesting people I met was the owner of the inn where I spent two nights enjoying a fresh water shower and the opportunity to wash my hair. Her name was Rosie Corser. She originally was an American who was visiting the island with her husband thirty-two years ago. They had ventured here to work on her Master’s Thesis on ancient civilizations of the Marquesas. She is a wealth of knowledge and has contributed to many published works over the past three decades. She and her husband actually opened the island to tourism by opening the first lodge. The lodge still holds a very prominent place on the island but she has sold out to new partners. It became much more than she could handle after her husband passed away with cancer at a very young age. When she was affiliated with the lodge she would invite and hire Polynesian artisans, dancers and other talent to share with the tourists. She is now a citizen of the Marquesas and no longer an American citizen. It is not that she dislikes America, but this is her home and her way of life. She is now in her late 60's and would not function comfortably in the fast paces of America.

Since I am a nurse, I had to ask her about the medical care, as there is a very small hospital that serves the island. She felt the hospital was very adequate as one could always be in Tahiti in two hours if they needed to refer you for further testing and care. There exists a strong belief in old-time medicines as there is limited medication. The people of the island do not like drugs as they had a very brief period of drug abuse and alcohol abuse by locals and tourists. They did not feel that it was a good thing for the resulting crime and homelessness to prevail, so it was stopped. One no longer feels afraid to venture down the road at night after dark. They do have pot as a local medicine, but not the synthetic meds of hydrocodone, and other pain meds or anti-anxiety, meds used so frequently in my country. People are very family-oriented and they care for their family members in the home mostly. The family unit is rather unusual. Children change homes as they feel so inclined. Teenagers are free to live with other aunts and uncles. Without family feelings being jeopardized. The children appear very happy. As I passed a local school about 7am one morning I saw the coed gym class practicing javelin throwing, short sprinting and a sort of stickball. The reason school begins so earlier is the island awakens early to perform work which would be very arduous under the hot sun of the late morning and afternoon. When the sun begins to set one can find the people congregating to do hula type dancing or just socializing.

A word to my dog Munchie at home ...you are the most spoiled dog in the world. Here the dogs are chained in the yard, or are not owned. They roam the island looking for food scrapes and an occasional petting, I noticed that all of the animals are not neutered. Rosie says that is because the vet only comes to the island once a year, he does not have time to innoculate animals and spray them. There are some horses on the island, which probably requires his attention. There are numerous cats and the dogs that chase them every chance. The dogs are not beautifully coiffed nor have clipped ears. They all look like a hound dog breed with pointed ears. People don't panic when they fight, as usually the dogs stop before one is seriously hurt. Dominance is a very strong trait utilized here.

Another colorful character that I met was the owner of the Banana Bar. The Banana Bar is the local hangout for the visiting boaters, live-aboards, and some locals. I can't spell his name, much less say it, as he is a local born French Polynesian. He is a very shrewd business man, and owns a lot of the property on the island. As he shared, there are large families and they own their own pieces of this island. Rosie also supported the information by saying it is difficult to acquire property due to these family properties. Sometimes it is acquired through marriage. He has two very strong opinions that might provide some food for thought. One, he blames America for the sugar problems of his people, since they (the Americans) introduced “Coca-Cola after the big war," and television has made his children not want to eat with their fingers. He will use a fork but not without sharing a very colorful joke about the mispronunciation of our term fork. He also shares his feelings about religion and the introduction of it to his country. He still feels strongly about polygamy and sees no problem with it, except now that women are being elevated to a higher status by getting to work, they are more difficult. His country will not let women be abused. If a woman is being abused the neighbors call the gendarmers. The gendarmes are pretty intimidating. Mr. Banana Bar owner has the internet wifi system set up for locals and visitors. You find people connecting all of the time. How funny to think they went sailing to escape and find solitude but need this umbilical cord.

There are many more stories to share, but I don't wish to address all of the topics as others need to share with our readers. But I do have to say that a most fascinating sight for me yesterday, was watching the sharks attack and eat the fish scrapes as the fishermen cleaned their catch for the town. These were some large black-tip.

Love to all,

Report from Bosun Bertram:
Goodbye to Nuku Hiva! We are on our way south to the archipelago of the Toamotsus. More specifically we are heading for Fakarava, one of the biggest atolls with up to 40 nautical miles between the barriers. Atolls are very old volcanic islands that have had enough time for the coral reef to grow around them and then slowly sink back in the water, leaving just the coral reef and little banks of sand. From what we heard on Nuku Hiva it should be the most amazing sight we have ahead of us. To Fakarava we have three or four days, right now just by the engine, but hopefully with some sails up soon!

Local time on board is 11:20 and our current position is 9,23.6S 140,26.90W.

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