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The Voyage of Spectacle Tour of Hiva Oa and Its Amazing Archaeology

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Tour of Hiva Oa and Its Amazing Archaeology

With about 2,300 people on its 125 square miles, Hiva Oa feels very sleepy as all of its inhabitants reside in the villages of Atuona, Puamau, Hanaiapa and Taaoa … each of which is located in its own isolated valley.  Originally called La Domenica by European explorers, ‘Hiva Oa’ means ‘long ridgepole’ in Marquesan.  The name may be derived from the island’s one long central ridge with the highest peak, Mount Temetiu, soaring to 1,213 meters.

We took the advice of many and booked a guided tour of the island to the village of Paumau to see the most significant archaeology in all of Polynesia outside of Easter Island.  The tour originated with the island’s one very fancy hotel, the Hanakee Pearl Lodge.  The thirty-mile drive across the island through the interior on winding mountain roads took about two and a half hours.  It was breathtaking and beautiful.  We must have passed through ten different microclimates from high elevation evergreen trees with pine needles to scrubby brush desert hillsides to lush tropical rainforest to talcum powder white sand beaches.

The village of Paumau is very cute, and filled with Gauguin descendants.  We explored the beautiful black sand beach, inspected the many traditionally styled Polynesian canoes, and peeked in on the little church.  Right up the road, we arrived at the Me’ae Iiopona which is absolutely spectacular.  Beyond the perfectly appointed stone platforms and alters, the highlight is an eight foot tall tiki called Takai who is flanked by Tauatepepe behind to the right, and Pepetamuimui in front to the left.  Other highlights include an anthropomorphic fish, a creature that is half man and half goat, and a woman lying on her stomach with arms raised to the sky behind her.  Truly incredible.

After the archaeological tour, we headed for lunch at a small pension maybe called Chez Marie Antoinette (formerly or currently, we never quite confirmed).  There, we tried our first taste of Poisson cru (raw white fish in coconut milk), as well as other Marquesan specialties including stewed goat and pork on white rice.  As per usual, the French speakers on the tour tried to be polite to us personally as they skewered the abysmal policies of the Bush administration.  Our Marquesan hosts indicated that the weakened global economy, in conjunction with the weak American economy, has negatively impacted the island.  One exact quote was:  “America sneezes and the rest of the world gets the flu.”

All in all, we had a very fun and informative day, and with that, we feel like we’ve seen all there is to see in Hiva Oa.


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