May 22 Walking through History

At 5:00 p.m. Kim, Mark, Anson, and I jumped into the dinghy and motored ashore (Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva). There we said hi to Brian and Slater (fellow cruisers who had their engine break down) and got an update on how the repairs were going. Soon we continued walking towards the restored archeological site. The restored site was about 600 feet by 400 feet, almost reaching the sea. There were several stone platforms around the site. They were up to four feet high and made of big boulders, some probably weighing up to a ton. On top of the platforms and scattered around the edges were tikis and stone sculptures. A tiki is a stone sculpture, usually of a god, goddess or ancestor. Generally, the tikis of deities are shorter and squatter than a human, have big eyes, long, braided hair if they are female, and have their hands over their stomachs.

As you entered the site there was a sign that described how in 1979 a Catholic bishop and several Marquesans started an organization called Motu Haka (the gathering). Its purpose was to help revive the Marquesan culture: the language, dances, chants, legends, wood carving, tattoos, and ancient sculptures. In 1987 the first art festival was celebrated. This site was restored to celebrate the second one in 1989. There are still art festivals going on once every few years.

After spending half an hour reading the sign we wandered around, trying to save at least part of our blood from the abundant mosquitoes. After viewing the tikis and platforms we sat down on the grass and listen to Dad read from Islands and Beaches, a history of the Marquesas by Greg Dening. It described the time 150 years ago when the French were instigating their rule. A haka-iki, leader, of the Marquesan people returned from a voyage to Europe and then started a war with his neighbor. Later he was indebted to the French and became their puppet ruler of the whole island. Another haka-iki, Pakoko, rebelled against the puppet king and was driven off by the French. After killing six soldiers for a small offense he turned himself in and was shot to death. The most amazing thing is that it all happened in the valley where we were all sitting!

Twenty minutes of listening later, we left to see the huge church. As we walked through the giant gate we heard the tail end of beautiful singing. When we left we made the acquaintance of the kind priest. Mark learned he was on a two-year contract from France.

It was dark when we went to find a restaurant. We finally reached it after lots of hopping over puddles, asking for the only flashlight, and squelching in mud. We ordered pizza and cokes and then took turns washing our hands. But when dad came back he was followed by a casual acquaintance who he had said hi to on the way to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the guy was completely plastered. The smell made Anson and me ask to take a walk. When the food came and the man didn’t leave, Anson had to pretend he had a migraine so we thankfully could get the pizza to go and leave. We sat down on a covered bench to finish our pizza, but just as we finished our second slice people with blaring music came and sat down near us! We packed up and left again and ate our final pieces outside a closed shop next to the concrete wharf. Peripatetic pizza for all! Devon.

2 thoughts on “May 22 Walking through History

  1. Ah Devon, you are such a wonderful storyteller! We love seeing the world through your eyes : )

    Your stories are so engaging and inevitably make us laugh. We can just see you all squelching in the mud while sharing one flashlight. You bring in the element of human interest, with considerable skill and subtle nuance.

    So happy to hear you’re all flourishing and enjoying yourselves!

    Love & Hugs, Zara & Grandma

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  2. Devon – how wonderfully you write! I feel like I was at that archeological sight with you all! I looked the restaurant you had your mom’s birthday dinner in and google took me to another cruiser’s blog from 2015 with lots of pictures! I sent it to family to enjoy as well. We look forward to every Sail on entry and cheer when we have one. Much love, Nana

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