First days in Hiva Oa

The following day after our arrival, we had planned to rent a car to go to Atuona to complete the entry formalities into the country. However, due to national holidays in French Polynesia, we had to change our plans, so we first dedicated ourselves to some much-needed rest, then to small boat maintenance tasks, and finally to exploring the area. The first two things were easily accomplished, but the third proved to be much more challenging. In fact, the only possible landing spot with the dinghy seemed to be a small rocky pier, pounded by breaking waves and excessively high and slippery to climb. Additionally, in order to leave the dinghy without risking it hitting the rocks, we needed a sufficiently heavy stern anchor to keep it away from the rocky wall, which we didn’t have. So, we decided to opt for landing on the banks of a small stream in front of the bay instead.

Finally setting foot on land, to our great satisfaction, we ventured into the town, which is actually represented by a few scattered houses on either side of a road leading south of the island. We were struck by the lush vegetation and the care with which the gardens around the houses were maintained. As rare cars passed by, there was a lot of waving and smiling. Not a bad first impression of the Marquesas and its people at all!!!

Entrance to the village of Hanaiapa
The church of Hanaiapa

On May 9th, as agreed with the car rental company, the car we had booked for three days was delivered to us early in the morning. It was no longer just the two of us; a nice couple had joined us, he was Californian, she was Mexican but had lived in California since childhood, whom we had met the night before during an encounter between their dinghy and our boat.

Lupita, Joe e Gemma

We shared the same needs, namely to go to the gendarmerie to complete the entry procedures into the country, to do a significant shopping especially for fruits and vegetables which are transported by the Aranui, a beautiful ship that periodically stops at Hiva Oa with its cargo of various items for local shops, and tourists from Tahiti. Before any errands, we treated ourselves to fantastic croissants at the local bakery, croissants that we had been dreaming of for at least the last third of the crossing.

The cargo and passenger ship “Aranui”
The bay of Atuona

The entry procedures into the country were simple and fast for us as European citizens; instead, much more complex for our American friends whom we left at the gendarmerie while we enjoyed excellent coffee at a nice café. Here, by chance, we met two Italians who, together with other military personnel and on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Defense, are circumnavigating the globe on a catamaran, Lo Spirito di Stella, offering this incredible experience to disabled people. After picking up our American friends, we began our visit to Atuona, starting from the cemetery that houses two celebrities who, in different eras, decided to end their existence in this earthly paradise: Gauguin, the famous French painter, and Jacques Brel, the Belgian poet and singer. In the afternoon, we went to the Gauguin museum and the adjacent Jacques Brel cultural space. In the former, we could admire copies of the paintings done in Hiva Oa and the reconstruction of the painter’s house, while in the latter, there is Jojo, the plane that the poet used to transport patients or medicine when there were no hospitals or pharmacies in Hiva Oa.

The museum dedicated to Gaugin
The plane used by Jacques Brel for the assistance service in Hiva Oa
Una scuola di danza all’interno dello spazio culturale dedicato a a Brel e Gauguin

On the way back, we climbed through the dense vegetation to discover and admire the Tiki Souriant, one of the numerous humanoid stone sculptures of the early Polynesian settlers.

The smiling Tiki
Arrived in French Polynesia!
Inland Hiva Oa

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