It happens, with all those endless days of relaxing, eating, hiking, and island hopping, you can get confused about your actual location. But arriving to HIva Oa, we were impressed by the same scenery that made artist Paul Gaugin stop in his tracks. This is where he lived, painted, blossomed as an impressionist, and it's also where he is buried.
One of the most interesting points on the trip is a stop at Gaugin's grave. Not only is it a place to pay homage to one of the greatest artists that ever lived, but the surroundings and antiquated gravesites are equally as interesting. I weaved in and out of the crooked rows, gazing at head stones and imagining the kind of spooky evening one might have visiting there when only the moon glows.
Hiva Oa aslo has the best shopping. I purchased a hand-dyed sarong in bright lime green and long beads made out of seads and nuts from local shops set up behind the Gaugin Cultural Center. Up and down the streets I found artists specializing in miniture tiki made from bone, and wooden artifacts based off historical pieces found in museums.
Fatu Hiva is where the Aranui headed next, anchoring in the Bay of Omoa. This is the island with one of the biggest hikes scheduled on the trip, led by the guides Didi and Yuri. Be prepared to hike about fourteen miles over several hours, mostly uphill; but hey, there's always time in the Marquesas. If you opt out of the hike, the Museum Grelet is a great stop on the island as well.
The last part of the day we were at Fatu Hiva, the boat moved to the other side of the island to the port of Hanavave. There's a small villiage where monoi oil is made. I also was able to purchase a Tapa clotha painted barkclothon this island by a young artist named Rosie.
Later, on another island named Ua Huka, I paid a visit to the Tiki. Not just onebut three. "Tiki" is singular for one such stone or wood carved monument, and plural for many. To say "Tikis" and mean plural isn't appropriate. The more you know!
We explored this arid island by 4-wheel drive, although other passengers rode horses. I then hiked to the Tiki while others opted to swim in the sea. I also encountered the wild horses found all over the island, which were brought from Chile in 1856 and now outnumber the 476 residents of Ua Hika.
A proposal! Also a must-see on Ua Hika is the arboretum, stocked with natural plants brought from the other islands. This is also the romantic place where my husband dropped to his knee and officially asked me to remarry him (remember, this trip is to celebrate our tenth anniversary), so this place, this island is most special to me.
Tomorrow: Adventure Girl is sung home after a quick trip to Rangirora...
[All photos: Stefanie Michaels]
· Adventure Girl Ships Out to 'Un-Cruise' The Marquesas Islands [Jaunted]
· Curried Goat and a Rainbow: Adventure Girl's Marquesas Islands Adventures Continue! [Jaunted]
· Adventure Girl in Macau [Jaunted]
· Aranui ship [Official Site]