After several months of planning, we are receiving visitors! These visitors are not coming to stay in a hotel or spa, they are joining us on Sonrisa for an indeterminate period of time. Two nurses, both travel-hearty individuals, quit their jobs and headed out across an ocean (via airplane) to meet us on the sea. I am 90% excited to have them join us, and 10% terrified that they are going to be miserable. I can only hope our friendship can survive sea sickness, showers out of a bucket, our unfortunate sewage management choices, tight living quarters, and third world internet speeds.
The airport is a two hour drive up and over sheer cliffs to the dry side of the island. We are quick learners, and this time we simply found the most tourist driven business on the island and asked them to help us locate a rental car. We had our rental car reserved lickety-split, and on this morning it was ready for us right at the dock. We zipped off in the direction of the airport, climbing up and up through rain clouds, pine trees and mist. We followed a truck with a dog lounging in the back. He eyed us suspiciously at first, but then laid down on his paws for a snooze.
We arrive at the airport a bit early, so we enjoyed the people watching. Marquesans dressed up with flowers in their hair, bead necklaces and brightly colored dresses milled about the open airport. Andrew found a stray kitten to lavish with petting, and this interrupted a small child’s game of chasing and kicking the same cat. The child was not pleased with this turn of events, but the cat certainly was.
Soon, our friends arrive, we grab their meager luggage (they successfully kept it minimal to fit on Sonrisa), and we head out to the rental truck. Good thing they had a night’s rest in Tahiti because it’s time to explore!
We travel up and over the island again to the North East side where we have a local Marquesan lunch of roasted pork, rice with pork juices, fried breadfruit and yucca . We see fresh water eels and a church built with archeological rocks. We explore an old Marquesan village and see the foundations for houses and religious sites, tikis and petroglyphs. Then, we enjoy the view of cliffs, waterfalls, roads that become waterfalls, and the beautiful open bay of Taiahoe. Nuku Hiva is a very impressive island.
Upon our return, we take them to the Gendarmerie to check them in and let the officials know we have two more people on our boat. We load the dinghy with their luggage and take them out to the rolly anchorage. It doesn’t take long for them to discover the need for sea sickness meds. We eat dinner ashore and dope them up with dramamine for the night.
We pick our way through mud puddles and stray dogs in the dark. Upon returning to the quay, we look right and left, but no Grin. Where did Grin go? We strain our eyes against the darkness. “Is that it?” Crystal says, pointing across the bay to a dinghy floating alone in the dark? We all lean forward a little, squinting our eyes just so. Andrew was in the midst of resigning himself to a long, dark, murky swim when suddenly we hear Grin lurch against the cement steps 50 feet away from where the other dinghies were tied up. “There it is!” Andrew says, “How did it get over there?” We cross the boat ramp, untie Grin and pull him back over to the quay so we can all load in using the ladder. Our seasick, doped up friends bob along with us as Andrew goes through the requisite outboard motor procedures. There is no horizon to watch in the inky darkness, only mast lights of other sailboats swaying in the substantial ocean swell.
Upon return to Sonrisa, we set our friends up with a bucket (just in case) and send them right to bed. I bet you have never offered a bucket when guests come to stay at your house…
The next morning, Andrew and I head into town early to see a man about a tattoo. We met a number of people around here sporting their new tattoos and became a little excited about the idea. I have been perusing a book all about Polynesian tattoo symbols and Andrew has been polling the Facebook world to obtain their expert opinion: to tatt or not to tatt, that is the question. The tattoo man was late for our appointment, though, and he had another tattoo lined up for the day. So, we will have to discuss in more detail tomorrow. He sent us away with homework, though. We were required to write our life story on a piece of paper, translated into French if possible. We stop by the boulangerie to buy a bignet (French for Donut) and the market for fresh eggs and veggies.
We return to find our friends awake and rather green around the gills. We make them eggs with green beans for breakfast. Crystal perks up with food, but Kevin is only able to take a bite at a time, then he has to go lay down again. Over and over again we make promises that in a few days time it will all be better. We get them dressed up, throw them in the dinghy for more shore time. Maybe we can have poisson cru for lunch; I fantasize that eating seafood will somehow cut short seasickness.