Because caffeine exacerbates sea sickness, I do not drink much coffee if at all while out at sea. So, it is a special treat when we reach shore and I can finally have a cup. On Sunday morning, the rich flavor of our Galapagos coffee paired perfectly with the early morning light reflecting off Atuona's sheer tropical cliffs. I sipped happily while enjoying the view from my "patio". Andrew perused the cruising guides in an effort to plan our sailing circuit around the Marquesas.
"Bonjour?" A gal our age greeted us as she bumped her inflatable dinghy into Sonrisa's hull. We greeted her in return. "Did you guys just arrive?"
We confirmed, and we all made small talk about how the crossing went, etc. She looked past us toward Sonrisa's companionway. "Is it just the two of you on the boat?" When again we confirmed, she asked how we managed the watch schedule. We explained, and she furrowed her brow. "You must have been so tired; have you ever considered taking on crew?" She had made the Pacific crossing on a boat owned by an older gentleman, and she was looking to swap boats. We declined, but we confirmed we would let her know if we heard of anyone else needing crew. She thanked us and motored away.
After breakfast, we gathered our wits and headed into town to explore. After making the long row and then the long walk, it was already time for lunch. We found a bar/internet cafe/bed and breakfast/lunch spot called Salon du The. We ordered sandwiches of egg, ham, gruyere cheese and lettuce on a fresh baguette. The baguette was perfect: crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside.
The French gal who took our order explained that she, too, stepped off the boat she had crossed the Pacific on and had been sleeping on the couch at Salon de The while waiting for another opportunity. The bar/restaurant allowed her to stay for free in return for her manning the sandwich station. A nurse in her former life, she began traveling the ocean offering to crew for boats in the Mediterranean. She made her way across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, to the Galapagos, and across the Pacific. When she started in the Mediterranean, she had only taken a two week general course on how to sail. We wished her luck, but again declined. We are lone wolves...and we have friends meeting us soon, so we don't have space.
While we ate our sandwiches we met another single gal age 25 looking for a boat, three men looking for boats, and one guy who is happily aboard his current boat heading to New Zealand. A handful of these crew members just started sailing the first day they left Panama; intending to learn along the way. If you are looking for a way to sail around the world on a tight budget, employing the secret "Ample Supply of Beverages" method seems to work on all docks across the world. You must be willing to work as part of a sailing team, learn fast, and help keep the mood on the boat positive (i.e. - don't be a jerk.)
After lunch, we hiked to the local cemetery. The graves of famous painter Paul Gaugin and musician Jaques Brel were the original draw, but I am finding local cemeteries to be an interesting stop in their own right. Each culture seems to bury their loved ones in different ways. Here, because the island is formed of steep, high mountains, there is plenty of space between the waterline and their cemetery. They bury their people, lining the graves with rocks or covering them with a slab of concrete. Many graves are marked by crosses of metal or stone. Most are decorated with flower leis.
Gaugin's grave was quite interesting. It was a simple round lava rock that had been smoothed out in the ocean surf. His name and the year of his death are etched into the stone. A stone carving of a Tahitian woman is placed just to the left. I felt it fitting that I place a flower in my hair to pay him respect. For those who don't know, Gaugin was a French painter who lived in the late 1800s. He moved to Hiva Oa to seek the art he believed "lived within himself." In letters kept in the Gaugin Center in Atuona, he explained that the bustle of other artists in Paris was a distraction preventing him from accessing his personal inspiration. His theory turned out to be sound. His paintings depicting Polynesian culture with the influence of his European style combined into something different and beautiful.
A few years ago, I set a New Year's Resolution to learn to think like a successful entrepreneur. I read a number of autobiographies, listened to interviews, and observed the entrepreneurs in my life. Their successes were numerous and varied, but there was a common thread amongst them: The Flyer. To reach a unique level of achievement, they each took a unique risk that drew them away from the pack. Until now, I thought the reason The Flyer resulted in success was because it differentiated an individual from the masses. As I read Paul Gaugin's letters and reflected on his paintings, I realize the secret is something more. In the moment your feet touch a path less trodden, the din of friendly "input" is silenced and you must rely upon your own creativity. While collaboration is necessary to refine and implement ideas, inspiration is first sparked within an individual. If one can hear the voice of creativity loud and clear inside a moshpit at a Flogging Molly concert, by all means remain connected with your fellow men. But, it seems that creativity requires at least some withdrawal from external input.
Paul Gaugin took a flyer, leaving his wife, family and friends behind in France to move to the Marquesas and find his inspiration. It worked; but who wouldn't be inspired by this view?
That evening, we headed back to the restaurant where we had our salad upon first arrival. With only three restaurants in town, it's impossible not to return to the same place. In the evenings, this restaurant boasts the best pizza. A steady stream of locals pop in, gather a pizza box under their arm, and leave. Only a handful sit at tables, the ladies dressed in brightly colored wraps with flowers behind their ears. We sit at a table decorated with one large, green and yellow pomplefmous. (A giant, tropical fruit similar to a grapefruit and tastes like Sprite.) We order pizza with all the works and a chilled Bordeaux. The pizza is as wonderful as described: crisp, freshly made crust, ham, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and a dab of creme fraiche (a rich, creamy French cheese that is a lot like cream cheese only more soft), and a pile of vegetables including artichoke hearts, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and olives. The Bordeaux is light and easy to drink.
As we walk the long road back to the boat in the dark, the night is temperate and pleasant. The stars are out in full force, and dew begins to gather on the petals of hibiscus flowers. Everything smells like gardenias. What is not to enjoy about this place?