Monday, November 18, 2013

Visiting the Marquesa Islands French Polynesia - Part 3

(Here is the link to Part 2 in case you missed it.)

Hiva Oa

We were finally able to watch some of the loading and unloading of freight while at anchor as we stayed in the harbor of Tahuata for about 2 hours. It looked like those bags of gravel we had seen previously were destined for this island.

We then sailed onto the town of Atuona where we were docked and found trucks waiting to take us to the cemetery where Gauguin "may" be buried. Also buried at this cemetery is Jaques Brel who we learned was a very famous European actor. We took the truck ride to the cemetery but when we saw the incline of the hill to the graveyard, we decided to stay on the truck and get off at the Gauguin Cultural Center. There was a lot of information about Gauguin including his life, is style of art, the evolution of his work and many copies of his works.

Copra Drying Rack - Main Commercial Crop of Islands
This was a quiet day. After lunch at a local restaurant we had time to wander around town, or if so inclined, there was a 1 hour mile hike up to a viewpoint. We chose to do our viewing at sea level.

Fatu Hiva

Fatu Hiva is the southernmost of the populated Marquesan Islands. Here we had a demonstration on how they make tapa cloth and mono oil (fragrant coconut oil). As usual we were divided up into three language groups and we did find the demonstrations quite interesting.

In making the tapa cloth, the bark is first removed from a tree branch (breadfruit, banyan or mulberry), then the inner part of the bark is removed. That is then folded and pounded and folded and pounded and wrung out and then some more, to remove as much water from the bark as possible. Then it is allowed to dry for a day or two before being decorated. Moistening the cloth again allows it to be used as cloth, such as in preparing the mono oil.

Preparing the mono oil is another long and tedious process. (I found it interesting that only a sprouted coconut is used for this.) The coconut is grated into a tapa cloth and then fragrant flowers are added. The cloth is then twisted and wrung out over a bowl, with the coconut oil mixing with the fragrant flower oils.

(I bought a few small bottles for gifts. Never dawned on me until I saw the bottles later in our cool cabin that the oil would solidify in the cold. Will have to wait until next summer to use it, leaving it outside in the heat to melt again.)

This island was probably the most lush one we visited and, for sunset, we headed to the Bay of Virgins. Several pax were fortunate enough to see the green flash during this sunset.

No comments: