Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hakahau, Ua Pou, Marquesas

[Pictures are pretty much random.]

Ginger growing wild all over the islands.
I wanted to go to shore one day to do some laundry.  There was a tree that had a hanging faucet with fresh water right on the beach so one day I took our big bucket, the plunger, some detergent and my dirty clothes to shore intent on doing my laundry.  I approached the faucet, turned the handle and nothing came out.  The locals who were sitting around told me that the water was turned off and would not be turned on until 5 PM.  I checked my watch and noted that it was a little after 3 PM, so I gathered my stuff and started to head back to the dinghy to go back to the boat.  Just then, one of the locals hollered out that I should sit around and wait.  Hmmm?  Spend two hours sitting around or row back to the boat to wait it out?  In the end I opted to stay on shore and hope for the best.

As I was sitting there, a guy approached me and told me about another faucet up the road where I could do my laundry and he offered to take me there.  I confirmed that he would not only take me there but that he would bring me back to the beach when I was done which he happily confirmed.  That said, I threw my laundry into the back of his pickup, hopped in the passenger seat and set off on a Marquesan adventure.  I say adventure because less than a century ago there was cannibalism on these islands.  But that was not in the stars that day for me (to be boiled and served with potatoes, poi or breadfruit).  Instead, my Marquesan friend dropped me off at another spigot and promised to return in about an hour.  Sounded good to me. 

Breadfruit, the other potato
(and it makes great hummus!).
So there I stood on the sidewalk of a residential part of the village with a big blue bucket full of dirty laundry and a pamplemousse tree right next to me.  I started to fill the bucket, added detergent, dropped in my dirty clothes and went to town with the plunger “agitating” my clothes.  While this method of doing laundry works, it doesn’t have the same results as the machine in your basement.  Oh well, it’s not like I have to look super clean or fancy for anything these days.  Most days I’m lucky to remember to brush my teeth…yes I did just say that!  Back to the laundry.  The scene must have looked hilarious.  There I was “agitating” my laundry with people walking up and down the street…”Bonjour!”  “Bonjour.”  I’m sure I looked like an idiot and it was only the fact that this was neither the first nor last time that I would look like an idiot in my life that I persevered.  So “Bonjour!” to you and you and you!

After about an hour, my “ride” showed up just as I was wringing the last of my laundry around a metal pole sticking out of the road (it worked!).  I gathered my stuff, threw it into the back of his truck, hoped in and I was immediately offered some weed.  Hmmm?  Thanks (or “merci beaucoup”) but I’m good.  “Pas de problem.”

These peppers are everywhere...and blazing HOT!
My new friend’s name was Harris and when we go back to the beach he introduced me to several of his other friends who invited me to attend a picnic the next day on the beach.  Free local food?  Count me in!  So the next day, Richard and I and our friends Ben and Jory, showed up on the beach at noon.  We sat around for a bit, wondering where the food was, but then my new friend Cana asked if we wanted beers…ah, yes, please!  So we walked back to Cana’s truck and he opens a cooler and takes out beers (Hinano…Tahitian beer) for all of us (he opened them on the lock latch on the inside of the car door).  

Papaya tree...the fruit usually seem
out of reach.
When we finally started to eat there was some initial confusion as to whether one of the dishes on the table was bait or an appetizer; turns out it can be either!  Luckily, Cana stated flatly that he doesn’t eat it which immediately made me feel better.  I have worried that I would insult locals when I refused to eat something that I perceived as being gross (like monkey eyes or the testicles of ANY animal).  Dodged that bullet did I!  The rest of the food was actually pretty good.  We had goat stew (very tasty…I actually really like goat and have had it several times since arriving here) with rice, chicken, mushrooms and rice, baked breadfruit (that literally tears apart like fresh bread and is used to slop up gravy), fried bananas, and other little nibbly things that were awesome despite my being unable to completely identify them. 

Cana also handed me a box containing about a dozen pamplemousse…my new favorite thing to eat.  Pamplemousse is sooo good!  It’s a giant grapefruit without the tartness, amazingly juicy and sweet.  I have been eating these things like crazy and cannot seem to get enough of them.  Luckily, everyone seems to be down with handing you several whenever they meet you.

We thanked Cana for his gracious hospitality and for sharing both his food and introducing us to his family.  By the way, the picnic was an event held by the lawn bowling (bocce) money league he belongs to and each team had a picnic table loaded with food.  I handed Cana a spool of 50 pound test fishing line and about a dozen tuna hooks, hoping that he could use them.

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