Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Marquesas - Hiva Oa

Marquesas Islands

We arrived on 4 July after an 18 day passage from the Galapagos.  

Our landfall in the Marquesas was the port of Tahauku, near Atuona, on Hiva Oa island. The artist Paul Gaugin is buried above Atuona on a hill overlooking the sea, under frangipani trees. His red granite grave is a recognition of his talent and achievements. Red granite is  usually reserved for royalty and chiefs. We were shown the grave and the Gauguin museum by Andrés, a Norwegian artist of some considerable merit and charm whose home is full of stunning Marquesan artifacts. The port is a few km from the little township, so we enjoyed stretching our legs. The locals readily pick up hitchhikers so we easily got a ride back with the boxes of provisions. 

A creation story - the island names of the Marquesas archipelago

When I asked about the names of the islands, I was told this story. 

There was once a pair of lovers who floated in the sky. They wanted to be together, but they didn't have anywhere to live.  
So the gods agreed to make a house for them. The islands of the Marquesas are their house. Each island represents part of the house. The house was built overnight and the final island, Tahuata, represents the creation as the light of dawn creeps into the sky.
Marquesan paepae have an assymetrical roofline, stone foundations and floor, and carved support poles. This is the sketch I made as Tehine told me the story. Translation may be slightly off as she was speaking in French and Marquesan maori:

Marquesan islands

Atuona was a bouncy anchorage with a tricky landing spot. Nevertheless the town was charming. Rupe took the opportunity to shave off his 'passage beard'.

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