Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
14Trip End Feb 10, 2010
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Where I stayed
So, yesterday we reached our first port...the island of Nuku Hiva. Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas, which, in turn, is the northern most island group in French Polynesia. The Marquesa islands are rugged volcanic islands with no barrier reef, so the surf crashes against the rocky shoreline. 2600 people live in Nuku Hiva, where they work for the government, the community, the catholic church or school system or for themselves, chopping copra (what the heck is that??) high in the mountains, fishing, raising cattle or other livestock or sculpting items for sale to the tourists
We took the tender to the island in the morning around 10 am. I was perplexed when I looked out the window of the tender and saw several (really buff!) men paddling outrigger kayaks next to the tender. This happened again on the way back to the boat. I had no idea what they were doing, but later found out that the local paddlers like to paddle in the wake of the tender boats and spend hours just following the tenders around. It looked like so much fun...Michael, you would love it!
First order of business was to shop. There is a nice small market right at the harbor where local men and women sell beautiful jewelry and carvings made of indigenous materials. Once I remembered some rudimentary french (the language spoken in Nuku Hiva), I was able to figure out how much things cost and I bought some beautiful pieces
We were treated to an island BBQ and dance show further down the bay and it was fun to watch the incredibly beautiful dancers and drummers perform. Their bodies are spectacular and I particularly enjoyed watching the gorgeous young men dance with very little clothing on ...photos below! I was "volunteered" by the emcee to dance with one of the young men and I made quite the spectacle out of myself doing the bird dance...which looks just like it sounds. I hopped around on one foot while waving my arms like bird wings, all the while trying to have some sort of rhythm! Despite my dreams of being a fabulous dancer, I am sure I looked like the geeky, pasty white, middle age american woman that I am next to this beautiful french polynesian demi-god with thighs of steel and amazingly graceful rhythm. Oh well... nothing like making a fool of oneself to know you are truly living in the present moment. I did feel really old, however, when the demi-god and I had crouched to the ground in a very low squatting position (all the while pulsing our bums and waiving our arms like birds) and he quietly whispered to me..."Can you get up?" When I said," of course" and popped up from the long squat he looked quite surprised. I mus tpause here to give a special shout out to my trainer, Stacey, for making it possible for me to actually get out of the squat position without falling on my derriere in front of hundreds of people
The BBQ consisted of several pigs that were steamed in pits dug in the earth for what must have been days and indigenous vegetables. I was so hot that I had absolutely no appetite, so I am embarrassed to say that I did not even taste a single morsel.
Back on the ship in the afternoon, Mom and I spent the remainder of the afternoon poolside (in the shade) reading and sipping. Today is a sea day and I have done much of the same, although I did make it to the jogging track and to the gym for the 1st time since I was sick. It was hotter than hades on the jogging track, even at 7 am, and I only made it 25 minutes before packing it in to sip ice water in the shade. The remainder of the day until now (it is about 5pm) was spent reading by the pool, with a brief attempt at sunbathing (I felt like I was being par-boiled and quickly retreated to the shade again!). Tomorrow we reach Papeete in Tahiti, where I think I get to go on a snorkeling adventure. :)
I am in love with travelling, and, if I did not miss my boys and my friends so much and if I were fabulously wealthy and did not have to earn a living, I would never come home! Until next time...au revoir from French Polynesia.