Alone Like a Rolling Stone

The bay of Hiva-Oa or, getting away with a black eye

Most of those who cross the Pacific Ocean from Central America land on the Marquesas after the Galapagos Islands. Hiva-Oa is the port of entry for French Polynesia. Accordingly, Tahaujku Bay is very busy. A constant coming and going, sometimes more, sometimes fewer boats. We actually wanted to leave already, but once again the weather is not cooperating. Many other crews here feel the same way as we do, so the bay is relatively full, even though we are in the low season. We are moored at the very end of the bay and have a fantastic view of the mountains. Some of the scenery is breathtaking. Whenever the next area of rain approaches over the mountain ridge from the east and the sun in the west bathes nature in a golden light against the dark gray background, the atmosphere becomes a spectacle of light. Certainly one reason why Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel fell in love with the island.

Anchorage bay Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

It's Sunday and we decide to go into town to visit the Gauguin Museum. You can tell it's Sunday because there are far fewer cars on the road around the bay. The supermarket in Atuona is open in the morning, so we can stock up on drinks. The museum is closed on Sunday, of course. If we had come up with the idea on a Monday, it would of course have been closed on that day. However, while we're there, we at least take a look at the cemetery where they were both laid to rest. Easier said than done. The cemetery is on a hill and it's quite a steep climb. We hop from one shady tree to the next like two grasshoppers. Nevertheless, we arrive at the top completely drenched in sweat. The cemetery is ancient. Obviously the graves are not cleared, but seem to have been laid out for eternity. In fact, we find graves of deceased people from the turn of the century before last.

Cemetery on Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

We also discover the grave of Brel and Gauguin. We'll visit the museum another day. In the shade of a tree, I use Google Maps to find the way ahead. "If we walk further up the mountain now, we can come back on the other side." Looking up from my phone, I gaze into two horrified, beautiful blue eyes. "If you say so," is the short, "euphoric" statement. As Google Maps is not very accurate on the islands, as we have already experienced several times, we have to keep asking for directions on our way up the steep ramp. Of course, we have walked too far and are sent back. Sometimes blue eyes can be more than just adorable. So we go back the way we came and actually find the right turn-off, even though Google says there's no road there at all. The road meanders downhill along the slope and eventually we reach the junction that leads to the cemetery again. At least it's not that far now until we reach the main road again, and blue eyes can also kill if you look into them at the wrong time. We spot a restaurant on the main road. Not a take-away, no, a real restaurant. This has never happened to us before in French Polynesia. Our blue eyes light up again, and although we're pretty sweaty and I'm a little embarrassed, I can't resist wanting to discover and try this restaurant.

Wild shore on Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

We get a seat and are served in a very friendly manner. The prices are high, but the food is excellent and the atmosphere on the airy terrace overlooking the bay and the mountains is very luxurious. We enjoy our lunch and the view. The neighboring table finishes a little before us, and as we get up, the lady at the table starts a conversation with us while her husband settles the bill. It turns out that she has worked in Stuttgart for a year and can still speak a word or two in German. We are happy about this contact and are glad that the Polynesians are so open. It's time for us to leave too, so we set off on our return journey. Once again, we are amazed at how richly endowed nature is here. Numerous mango trees, papayas, oranges, lemons and banana trees are on our way. After the sumptuous meal, we find it difficult to put one foot in front of the other.

Avocado Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

An hour later we reach our dinghy and before we cross over to the Katinka, we invite ourselves for coffee on the Mare. I had promised to help upholster a backrest. On the way back, we slowly realize that November will soon be over again. So it's time to find a weather window to sail to Nuku-Hiva. We'll tell you next time if and when we set off there. Until then, we wish you always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.