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Sunday, August 30, 2009

more Hapatoni, Tahuata

We can't seem to tear ourselves away from this charming village, especially since the arrival on Thursday of friends, Ed and Nila on the catamaran Quixotic. It's nice to be around other English speakers again, even if they are determined to try and teach us how to play bridge! Friday night Nila cooked a five star dinner of wahoo cordon bleu, mushroom rice pilaf, and a cucumber cabbage salad. Even after that huge meal we managed to polish off a pan of brownies that I brought for dessert. John and Nila got all the good cards for bridge so Ed and I didn't have too much to do. Which was a good thing because I discovered that I really don't have a talent for keeping track of the bids let alone which cards have been played!

Thursday morning we took another hike, this time up the switchback road out the south end of the village. This is an early morning hike because the sun hits that end of the village first and it's straight up all the way to the top of the ridge (which itself reminded us of Na Pali on Kauai). The view from the ridge is of a few buildings on a grassy slope in an unprotected bay, with Fatu Hiva off in the distance. We could see Quixotic sailing way off in the distance about half way between the two islands. We felt the heat already beginning to radiate from the grasses and rocks on the return trip, and we were happy to be headed back downhill. This road is lined with banana and papaya plants just like the road to Vaitahu, but is less forested and not as shady.

Before our hike we had dropped off a few things at the house of Rose and Frederick. Only their daughter was home but we gave her a plastic cat litter bucket (these are actually usually well-received because they come with lids), a can of mosquito spray we don't use, and an extra wrist splint (from when I had tendonitis) for their small health clinic. On our way back down the hill into the village we saw someone up in the pamplemousse tree by their house. We returned to the dinghy to get Ziggy's grass pan hoping to find a patch of grass to take back for him, and were approached by a teenage boy carrying a big shopping bag of pamplemousse. He turned out to be Giovanni, Rose's son, and we assume the fruit was an exchange for our "gifts." We asked him about the grass and he led us to a nice green patch in the part of the landscaping along the quay. I'm not sure an adult would have selected that spot but it's behind a bush and hopefully the grass will grow back quickly to cover the 1' square dirt scar! Ziggy was very happy to have some fresh grass to munch on, but we had a surprise as creatures began to crawl out of the red dirt that evening. Our first clue that something was stirring was the sight of Ziggy sitting very still outside the box staring intently into the grass. We had to evacuate a couple of black beetles and several worms, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that we didn't bring any fleas aboard with the dirt!

I was feeling a bit guilty because we cut down a stalk of bananas from alongside the road during our north ridge hike without asking permission first. So Friday morning I made two dozen cupcakes and we all went in to the village for Ed and Nila's first look around. Quite by chance a small tour boat from Atuona had arrived with half a dozen tourists and some of the locals had their handicrafts out on display, giving us another opportunity to see their work. John and I headed down to the small school at the north end of the village where we met the children as their morning class ended (they only appear to have school for half the day). There were 10 little ones (about kindergarten age) and two teachers, but no older children. So I took the rest of the cupcakes around to whoever happened to be out (mostly carvers), and Frederick, who was in his wood shop. He suggested I take the rest of the cupcakes to Rose and the kids at their house so I went all the way back towards the quay where they live. And there in the carport I saw a dead pig being cleaned by two men. Early that morning I had asked John if he heard dogs barking in the hills above the anchorage, which was unusual since we only ever hear roosters and an occasional car go by. Not a minute after that we heard the sound of gun shots, and some more barking. So we figured there had been a pig hunt, and here was the result. Rose's mother was overseeing the work from a folding chair and she took a cupcake too.

We had another good snorkel on Thursday and saw two small lion fish in addition to the big one hanging out along the same rock ledge where we first saw him. The sky was nice and clear for a change so everything was in sunlight, though the water clarity was a bit murkier than before. Friday was very windy and a small group of spinner dolphins came into the bay and hung out in the anchorage. They spent another day with us yesterday and, since we stayed on the boat all day, we had lots of opportunities to catch sight of them leaping out of the water and spinning in the air. What a treat!

Linda and John