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Oceania » French Polynesia
November 19th 2015
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: -17.52, -149.56

After 7 days at sea it was great to look out the window this
morning and see land. We went up on deck to watch us anchor in the sheltered
harbour of Nuku Hiva, the capital of the Marquesas Islands. The dock side here
is too small for even the Astor so we were to be transported ashore aboard the
tenders.

We got our tickets for this for 10am and then went to
breakfast. We also had time to do the morning quiz. Then it was down to Deck 3
and onto one of the small lifeboats from the ship. The trip in only took a few
minutes and we alighted at the quay to a Polynesian welcome from a tattooed
warrior and a local band. We were told there was not much here but the island
itself is very pretty with tall mountains towering above the water and an
abundance of vegetation. We browsed the shops near the dock but as we had no
local currency decided to buy on our way back. We then set out to walk along
the waterfront.

We first stopped at the local artists' hall selling
artefacts and clothes. Then we walked to the nearby bank where Fletcher used
the ATM and got a single 10,000 French Polynesian Franc note! The beach curves
around to a headland on the opposite side where we saw on the map there was a
Museum and places to eat. The flame trees and frangipani were beautiful and we
loved the little golden finches that fluttered from tree to tree. We walked
slowly as it was very warm and humid, stopping to enjoy the sights and catch
our breath.

Halfway along the beach we saw a large cross which led to
the Cathedral of the Marquesas. This is an interesting church which has been
made from local stone and contains beautiful carvings done in the native style.
The entrance to the church is through an archway, flanked either side by twin
towers. Inside is light and airy with the Stations of the Cross beautifully
carved. The pulpit carvings combine Christian and local myth symbolism and the
baptismal font is a roughly hewn stone basin backed by a fantastic carving of
Christ's baptism. Outside again and there is a large statue of the local bishop,
again a wood carving, next to his grave. He was credited for reviving the local
Marquesan culture and blending it with French Catholicism. Quite a feat!

Further along the bay there was an example of this cultural
revival with many traditional carvings scattered around the site where the last
local king had had his house. We passed a local boathouse and eventually came to
a bar/restaurant, behind which was the museum. We were very glad to stop for a
beer and to take advantage of the free WiFi. Several other passengers were also
of like mind. We also decided to stay for lunch and had a very nice Fettucine
avec poissons in a creamy sauce. The resident cats were also very interested in
our lunch. As we left they were quick to jump onto the table to finish off what
we had not!

The very small museum contained some artefacts from early
first century as well as from later eras. There were stone tools and more of
the great carving, this time of boats and people from the islands. The replicas
on sale were very expensive so we set out to make the return journey. The bay
is almost a caldera, seemingly formed from volcanic activity. It was peaceful
and only the occasional 4 wheel drive ute going past broke the silence. We
really enjoyed the walk back, taking our time and not minding when a few brief
showers passed over us. We strolled along the beach which had dark sand but
didn't go into the water.

Back at the dockside we were dismayed to find the shop where
we had seen some attractive merchandise had closed five minutes before we
arrived. Other shops and stalls had not had any similar products so our money
went unspent. We found Roger and Judy there and sat and chatted to them for a
while before boarding the tender about 3-30pm. It had been a lovely visit and a
little piece of unspoiled paradise, much nicer that Papeete. Back on board we
had a drink in the Captain's Club to cool down and then showers to rid
ourselves of the stickiness. Roger and Judy joined us for the quiz at 4-30pm
which we won and then the ship left harbour at 6pm. A great day of doing little
but enjoying a new place. It is certainly a place to go to get away from
everything and live a simple idyllic life! (and it still has WiFi!)










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19th January 2016

I love that although you were told there was not much to see, you both still found some enjoyable places to investigate at a relaxing pace.

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