Day 34 — February 3, Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
We awake early around 5:00 AM to the view of dark volcanic mountains outside our window. Sleep, not being anywhere near as important as the sight of land, eludes us and we arise and prepare for the day. As my cameras drag me up to the top of the ship and out on deck, the magic of Nuku Hiva casts its spell upon us. Photos of the sunrise climbing over the mountains are created and the last 10 days on the ship seem all worthwhile. A break for breakfast and that ever powerful cup of coffee and we are ready for the day.
We meet up with our friends on board and the six of us queue up for our Tender Tickets and soon our tender is called. The 10 minute ride to shore and we disembark amidst the throngs of taxi vendors that begin vying for our business. We question several of them and find a 4 hour tour for $40 USD each and we hire him. Our guide, Tajaka (Pronounced, Ta-ha-ka) takes us up over the mountain and to the north side of the island where our cameras are again happy among the many photo stops along the way.
Tajaka takes us to a shop where the locals make handmade jewelery and wooden instruments. Happy locals try to get us to spend money with some success but not much. A playful youngster preens for my camera and everyone is friendly. Then it’s on to an archaeological site where they are uncovering an old village that was consumed by the jungle. We find it amazing how people lived and survived. A photo on the beach of us with our guide and it is a good day.
Tajaka then takes us to Takao de Marquesas Church and find the charm of the island inside and out. The pulpit is carved from one tree. Fairly plain but then we are on a very poor island. Walking along the shore, I accidentally slip and fall and scrape up my arm. Tajaka gives me an old t-shirt to tie around it and we make it back to the port. We are dropped at the Our Lady of the Marquesas Islands Cathedral and we walk about and see the place.
Our walk back to the ship reveals a restaurant, Pension Moana Nui, where we find a couple local dishes we have heard about, Goat in Coconut Milk and Fish in Coconut Milk, a sort of ceviche. So food orders in and a cold beer in hand we sit and wait for our food to be prepared. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are on Island Time and we visit with many other shipmates in the restaurant including several of the crew and entertainers on the ship that we have gotten to know.
Our food arrives and we have to call the waiter over because he has delivered it to the incorrect table where the patrons were more than happy to eat it! Luckily for us, we catch the waiter before the other patrons take a bite. Both meals are delicious and the beer is cold. A lady approaches us and gives Elee a Lei and we are told it is to be passed around. So we take her photo and pass the Lei on where we watch it go from lady to lady around the restaurant. The walk back to the ship is leisurely and many more photos are taken. We find our token magnet for our wall and soon we board the Tender for the ride back to the ship.
Back on board, we refresh ourselves with showers as the day has been very hot and humid, the only saving grace was the open air back of the taxi where most of us sat. So we relax and prepare for the evening knowing tomorrow is a day at sea. One fun note was that night before last we were told to turn our clocks back 30 minutes. We have never heard of a time zone change of only half an hour. We are also told it will happen again when we get to India. So, at the moment, we are 1.5 hours earlier than Los Angeles, our home.