Life in Nuku Hiva: Getting to know the locals

Pension Maive Mai

At Pension Maive Mai, we have a horse, chickens, roosters, lizards, and a very outgoing kitten we've named "Pomplemousse."  He loves to climb our legs with his claws to demand bites of mackerel.  If it weren't for Nina, he would be a grave danger of being cat-napped.

The horse sometimes invites his friends up the hill and they gallop around the yard whinnying!  Justin enjoys rousing the neighborhood roosters by crowing at them.  Then everyone chimes in!

Cultural Crafts Day

The locals taught the rally members how to make leis, seed necklaces, grass hats, and traditional local cuisine.  

Bob, from SV Maggie, fits Jackie, the rally coordinator, for a traditional hat.

A Marquesian specialty is breadfruit beaten and kneaded into freshly-strained coconut cream.  Bob, on Maggie, learned how to make Jackie, our rally coordinator, a fashionable grass hat.  The boys on Ransom, Merko and Martin, made elaborate seed necklaces.  Their mom, Claudia, received the prize for most fabulous lei display.  By the end of the afternoon, everyone, including the guys, was all decked out and looking fabulous.

Polynesians use an ancient process to press fragrant flowers and blend the scents into coconut oil, which is then used as a skin moisturizer and fragrance.  On Nuku Hiva, everyone simply makes their own and puts them into plastic bottles to sell.  All the crafts you see in the picture are made locally.

Insofar as traditional tattoos go, the Marquesas is the most renown of all the Polynesian islands for this kind of craftsmanship.  Almost every local has a limb or four decorated in deep blue ink with abstract or nature-inspired ancient cultural symbols.  

This inspired our rally crew because six of us decided to get one for ourselves!  Terry got a manta ray that wraps around his arm, James now has a sketch of his sailboat underway on his shoulder, Anielle has a tribal anklet, Jess decided on an abstract turtle for the top of her foot...!  They're all absolutely gorgeous, and everyone finds special meaning in their new tattoos, as they commemorate our Marquesan friends and our great Pacific crossing. We decided against it, but now have tattoo envy for sure.

Jess' turtle tattoo has within it the symbol for voyaging, the ocean wave, as well as the ancient Marquesan cross.

The rally crew nationality list continues to grow!  United States, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Slovakia, and now Belgian and Polynesian too.  When you hear us on the VHF, the radio boats use to communicate that is like a walkie-talkie, we're definitely the most diverse crowd on the water so far!"

Rose Corser's famous Marquesas artifact museum and hotel

We visited expat Rose Corser's famous Marquesas artifact museum and hotel, the He'e Tai Inn.  She opens it only on request and is famous all around the world for preserving pieces of local history that may have otherwise been sold to off-island collectors.  
Her website:

Farewell Festivities

Some boats have already departed for other islands, but those of us who stayed were treated to the most fun night on the rally so far.  Jackie, Luc, and the locals organized a farewell buffet and traditional dancing.  We had a blast and ended up dancing with the dancers!!!!

Rally members and local, traditional dancers enjoyed a farewell party as the stay in the Marquesas came to an end.

Marquesan dancing is known for having remained untainted by the tourism industry.  The dancers who performed for us still perform these dances at traditional festivals today.  They are not professionals nor have they changed the dancing to please the tourism industry.  

Historically, the focus in dancing was on war.  The warriors would sound the horn, a call to war, and then would gather together to do a fierce dance for the gods.  The women usually danced to commemorate the goddesses in their ancient mythology.  The music is comprised of intense drumming, chanting, and singing, both men and women.

The women and men wear patches of real grasses on their bodies, no leis.  The men don grass headdresses, animal teeth necklaces, and goat skulls.  They look pretty darn fierce!  The women do NOT shake their hips!  Instead, they dance on their toes like ballerinas and gracefully glide as they moves their arms in symbolic formations!  

traditional fare was on the menu for the farewell festivities.

The buffet was traditional fare.  Wild goat, wild pig, a variety of plantains, sashimi, salad, sweet potatoes, ceviche, breadfruit and coconut cream, beans, rice, and some kind of sweet fruity goo.  

Then there's the "Team Mexican Dress."  At any one point, usually someone is wearing a traditional embroidered Mexican dress.  This is because I gave them to all the gals on the rally.  We love them because they're airy, cheerful, and are always the first piece of laundry to dry on the line.  Here's a pic of Jess, Daphne, and me at the dinner wearing our dresses.  Last night was Jess' last evening on the rally before she flew back to New Zealand.  We are sad to see her go.  We love you, Jess!"

Team Mexican dress.

Posted on April 18, 2015 .