We left Fatu Hiva for the trip to Hiva Oa. This was the first location we would be able to check in through Customs. In French Polynesia you must pay the authorities a bond, which is equivalent to the price of a ticket back to your home location. I believe they created this ruling to make sure you would not become a burden on their local islands. They could always purchase a ticket and send you home. This process took us several days as the bank has a tendency to close for many different reasons, including two hours at noontime, and locals have priority on bank business. On the second day we waited at the door for the afternoon opening and once inside had to wait another few hours. Once we had paid the bond you then went to Customs to get your visa. We still had to apply for an extension if we stayed past three months, but that is "another story".
We had just spent several months in mostly Spanish speaking islands and how we were entering an island group that has their own language as well as French. There was some English, though it was limited.
On arrival ashore with plans to head into town, we met a local gentleman, Jean Marie. He gave us a lift into town. This conversation was somewhat limited as we spoke very little French and he spoke very little English. When we got to town he pointed out various locations for us, Customs, Bank, Church and the local fair. He brought us to the local fair and we met is wife. She spoke very good English and translated for us all. We found out Jean Marie was the local comfort station for SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising), an organization we belong to and which has been wonderful. If you are a new cruiser or a want-to-be cruiser, check out their website - it will be most informative - www.ssca.org
As we had been told on Fatu Hiva, all the islands were getting ready for fete. This is a yearly celebration with dancing, canoe racing, music, and display and sale of their artwork. Many of the islanders were preparing their crafts for sale in Tahiti, which is the hub for the fete celebration.
Jean Marie asked if we planned on attending church on Sunday. He offered to pick us up. As the harbor is a distance from town, we were quite appreciative.
As we were heading back to the boat, Jean Marie asked if you wanted to visit the grave of Paul Gauguin. His gravesite is located up a pretty steep incline and with Rick still being on crutches, we could not have been the journey on foot.
Now that all the legal work was done, we wanted to see the island. The best way to do this was via a tour. After talking with other cruisers we found Pepe - a local tour guide - and he planned a day for us. We headed out in his truck. Some of us inside the rest in the back.
One of our next view was a local resort situated above our anchorage. Boy this place really looked inviting after all that time at sea, however, the prices were very steep for us cruisers. But you land folks might enjoyed a visit to these islands and a stay here.
As we continued on our way, Pepe spent much time giving us an overview of the island and how the lands were split up among the various chiefs. Of course this was long before French association. He then told us about the holy tribal grounds and the tikis and stone platforms there. The history in these islands is very colorful.
We continued on our tour, visiting banana plantations and pamplemouse groves. For those who have never heard of pamplemouse, it is quite similar to grapefruit. I think it may even have a better taste. We had brought a picnic lunch and stopped along the coast for a lunch break. As we were eating lunch Rick spied a small pool of salt water that had collected in the rocks. He immediately went for a swim and of course, several young local boys decided to join him. He then began to tell them stories - high seas type adventure I am sure.
We finished our tour at the harbor and Pepe promised to deliver a bag of pamplemouse the next day. We had decided that once we got the fruit we would head out as this particular anchorage was a little rolly so we decided not to stay too long. We picked up a few provisions - they had fresh veggies here. Since Fatu Hiva was a small island, we had not gotten much in the line of fresh veggies and fruits. Of course we were definitely out of fresh items after leaving the Galapagos some 30 days ago.
After making the grocery run and a stop for diesel at $1.20 per liter. That's $4.44 per US gallon, we picked up anchor and headed to our next island visit, Tahuata.