Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Years

We had been in Taiohae for more than two weeks when I finally finished revisions to the science paper that I've been working on.  Looking for a change of scene, we headed over to Tai-Pi Bay/Controller Bay, the scene of Herman Melville's novel about life in the Marquesas.

We knew that we could get water in Controller Bay (there's no potable water in Taiohae), and we also knew that there's a break there that is suitable for a forty-something year old novice surfer.  And we were also eager to meet up again with two people we'd met at Controller Bay three years ago - Dolores and her son Jan.

Dolores' house is right next to the beach, but as far as we can tell she and Jan don't seek out contact with the yachties who visit their bay.  Last time around we me them because, with the audacity of the fairly clueless, we walked into their yard and asked if they wanted to trade fruit for a piece of spare line that we had.

We were shocked at the warm reception that they gave us that first time - running around the yard to pick fruit for us, taking on an outing to see the ruins up the valley, giving one-year-old Elias his first ever horse ride.

They were just as friendly this time out.  Alisa arrived with some gifts for Dolores, and they showered us with fruit.  And although Jan was heading off to work, he went and got his horse, Chanti, for Elias to ride.  He made me understand that I could lead Elias around on the horse as long as we wanted, then tie her up by the side of the road when we were done, and if we wanted to come back later for another ride, that was fine, too.

That's Dolores holding Elias in both pictures, now and then, and also pics of Jan and Chanti and Elias, now and then.

Non-French speaking yachties are at quite a disadvantage when interacting with people in the Marquesas, and it's easy for us to just visit with people who make a habit of seeking out yachties.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but those interactions tend towards professional friendship, as the local seeking you out tends to be looking for something in return for his friendship.  I think that's one of the reasons we remembered Dolores and Jan so fondly, as our time with them felt so unrehearsed, so novel from our side and theirs.

The view down on Dolores' house from the road.  Since our last visit the house was destroyed in a tsunami and rebuilt.  You can still see the plume of muddy debris from the tsunami just behind the house, but we're not sure how recent the tsunami was.  I worked hard to learn a little French before our last trip to these islands, and it was amazing how much information I could exchange with people with even a tiny vocabulary at my disposal.  But, alas, my traveller's French is gone, and I can no longer even say things like 'House - sea - how much months?'

Dolores gave Alisa a pile of guava, which Alisa turned into a masterful guava cobbler.  There was also lots of guava juice left over, which it turns out makes a wonderful elixir when mixed judiciously with rum!


  1. hey, that's totally great! I wonder about the tsunami, too ... I'm glad they were all safe and well. nice to see pics of those people again.

  2. even with more than travellers' French you don't always get the warm welcome you've had....Pelagic/Galactic has people appeal! lovely pix too. xx

  3. Marquesas islands in French Polynesia hit by tsunami
    February 27, 2010 03:45 PM EST
    views: 2535
    The Marquesas islands, in French Polynesia, are among the first islands to be hit by the tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake earlier this morning.

    However, in what is hopefully good news, the waves hitting the Marquesas and French Polynesia are lower than expected, only a little under 6 feet high.

    The "only," of course, is incredibly misleading. The 6-foot-high tsunami may still devastate the island chain, located in the South Pacific. However, there are no reports of serious property damage or injury yet, so hopefully everything is going well there.

    The Marquesas islands are south and a bit east of Hawaii, meaning the Hawaiian isles are likely to get hit soon.

    However, the fact that the tsunami's height is less than expected may bode well for Hawaii, which is due to be hit by the tsunami soon.

    The tsunami began as a result of the Chilean earthquake, which occurred earlier this morning at about 1:30 a.m. EST off the coast of Chile. Over 100 people have been reported dead already, although it appears the death toll is beginning to level off.

    Relief efforts are underway, although they have been crippled by the still-ongoing relief efforts in Haiti, following the Haitian earthquake that occurred in January.