Taiohae and an overview of Nuku Hiva

A view from the mountains above Taiohae.

Waterfalls cascade down the beautiful and challenging terrain of Nuku Hiva.

Well, here it is folks. Taiohae, the capital of all 12 islands of French Polynesia. The seat of the government, the police and international clearance office, the Bishop, one jail, one gas station, one bank, the biggest hospital, several elementary and junior high schools, one hotel, 2 pensions, 3 small groceries, a hardware store, several Catholic churches, a small museum, coconut flesh, lime, grapefruit, and Noni for export, fishing, a little tourism, and there you have it.

Lush foliage fills every inch of the island.

As for numbers and variety, whereas Nuku Hiva has only 3,000 residents, it boasts 50 different varieties of mangoes, 30 different varieties of hibiscus, 8 kinds of avocado, 10 of bananas, numerous types of sweet basil...I could go on for a while like this. Before the European missionaries, the local culture possessed over 70 different types of dances, 10 of which now remain. The fact that the culture, traditions, and history were transmitted through oral means, combined with influx of Catholic missionaries beginning in the late 1500's, resulted in the loss of most of the Marquesan history and culture, much of which was re-written from self-interested foreigner's viewpoints at later dates. 98% of the population was lost to the introduction by Europeans of diseases never before present in the islands. Cholera, Typhoid, Smallpox, Leprosy, Syphilis, etc etc.

Sure, there's an airport, but not until a two years ago were the roads paved. This meant that even if you had a car, which costs $1500 shipping alone from Tahiti, the smart drivers would carry a shovel and rope so that they could tie themselves to other cars in case they were swept down the mountainside in a mudslide, or if the roads gave away for one reason or another. Imagine driving across these mountains in mudslides!  And how did they get that Virgin Mary statue up there?

A view of the Virgin Mary of Nuku Hiva.

Posted on May 2, 2015 .