5/20/21 Last Marquesas stop -Ua Poo, then off to the atolls of the Tuamotu
Our last stop in the Marquesas was the island of Ua Poo. We anchored for several days in the anchorage near the small town of Hakahau and then in a lovely little spot that hasn't made the cruising guides yet. The town stop meant another quick and painless check-in with the French officials, a meal out with friends and our last stop for fruit and veggies before the fruitless atolls of the Tuamotu. We will probably not see anything much for sale besides coconuts and canned meats until we arrive in Papeete. Tahiti sometime near the end of June.
Hakahau had a small town feel and small town friendliness. The locals helped us find the right place to tie up our dinghy and offered us the use of a fisherman's buoy and later in town we were given a ride back to the quay by a local who saw our overfilled bags. There was a beautiful church and cemetery to explore, the aisles of several small stores to peruse and fresh baguettes too. The post office offers internet through a prepay card system but the connection was so sketchy we could never actually get to email or through our other bits of business -I have been away from Google and Gmail now since the end of March!
The town was neat as a pin as is the norm for French Polynesia and every home had yards filled with flower and produce gardens and trees dripping with fruit. There were lots of kids here, even teenagers. The town boasts an elementary and middle school as well as a high school/technical school complete with dormitories making this town the place the kids get shipped too for school instead of shipped from. On our last day in town we discovered that the older kids have Wednesday afternoons off from school. It was easy to tell because when we got back from our town search for veggies there were kids everywhere on the quay.
Three teenage girls strode up and asked us if they could come and see the boat. A bit surprised we said yes and so Bill took me and our groceries out to the boat and then went back to pick up the girls while I made Tang. They were excited to come aboard that was easy to see. We gave a quick tour of the boat and they watched rather wide eyed. It was an interesting exchange while I passed around glasses of Tang and the girls settled into the cockpit to sip and chat. Only one of the gals was willing to try much of her English but as always the lack of a like language doesn't really seem to get in the way. I brought out a camera and took several pictures of them and then passed them the camera. Like in Fatu Hiva the kids loved the camera. They giggled and laughed and went through all the pictures on the disk. They loved looking at themselves and also really enjoyed the pictures of the party in Han Vave. After a few minutes of girl giggles and pantomime they wanted to go up on deck. The interest there became immediately clear when they began waving and calling across the anchorage to their friends left back on the quay.
Eventually the conversation wore out and the giggling dwindled so Bill took them back to shore. The plan was for an afternoon nap but that flew out the door as I saw our dinghy speeding back. At the helm of our little outboard was a teenage Marquesan, dinghy engine full out, Bill holding on and three other boys whooping and flashing the hang ten sign as they flew towards the boat. Turns out that when Bill arrived to drop the ladies off there were a bunch of kids there wanting a visit too. Dozens and dozens. Bill said he could only take three at which point a waterfall of boys all headed for the dink at top speed trying to beat out all the others. Three of the oldest made the leap over the rocks and into our little boat and with huge smiles and lots of shouting they were on their way.
The boys were much more animated though they spoke almost no English -at least to us. The Tang came out again along with a few packages of Mexican cookies which disappeared without a trace amid lots of grins and thank you's. They too took in the tour and the boys were very approving of Bills new six foot long spear gun (imagine a teenage boy version of Tim the Tool Man Taylor's man grunts)and then his guitar. One of the boys especially was very happy about seeing the guitar and with a bit more pantomime it was clear he would love to see it. I drug it out and passed it across and they guy immediately turned and moved back to the cockpit and began strumming. What a thing to see. He strummed and looked at us then turned to one of the other two boys and had a short conversation before the two of them launched into a beautiful song. No music, no practice but each time they ran out of a song they would say a rod or two, hum a bar while the player plucked his way through a couple of notes and off they went with their beautiful voices and amazing guitar playing.
We have read in the past about the Marquesan singing reputation. It is said that all Marquesans have a wonderful voice and several times the cruisers have questioned if that was true or if they just didn't allow the pitchy ones to open their mouths. Well now I think it is the later. Of the three boys only two sang and played. The other boy remained silent but for one song. That one song as they were belting it out was rousing and sounded like a drinking song in its enthusiasm. They allowed him to join in but then on the next selection he again remained silent.
After the music, cookies and Tang the boys also wanted to go on deck. Once there again the waving, yelling, laughing and smiling across the anchorage to a horde of other kids. Eventually it was time to get ready for snack time on S/v Mersolei so reluctantly the boys climbed back into the dinghy. The guitar player was once again at the helm and off they roared. When Bill returned he told me two things: 1. as soon as the boy had the outboard in hand -both trips- he was off headed towards the breaking surf until Bill talked him out of it and 2. once they turned the corner at the quay there were dozens and dozens of kids, more than 100 waiting for their turn! They really wanted a turn and poor Bill had to be pretty forceful in not taking a third batch out but in the end he escaped with his life and our dinghy safe and sound. Too bad we had to leave early the next morning because the guitar player was happily saying he would bring us mangoes, bananas, papaya, limes and pamplemousse as a thank you the next day after school. ~sigh~ We really could have used the fruit for the atolls of the Tuamotu.
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