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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Atuona, Hiva Oa - Day 1 & 2 & 3

Atuona, Hiva Oa
Day 1 & 2 & 3

Beautifully green, humid, lots and lots of fruit trees, lots of hibiscus flowers, salvia, wild basil, and lush grasses, lots of chickens and chicks running wild, lots of friendly smiling helpful Marquesan people... that is a first impression.

Atuona anchorage offers delicious and free potable water, a free outdoor shower and free trash receptacle.
Internet is slow and $20 US per day. Many people choose to purchase a key and pass it along to someone else to split the cost.
We hired the agents (Tahiti Crew) for $290 US to help us check in with French officials and in return we receive duty free fuel. Check in was 15 minutes – very easy and no hassle at all.
Laundry is very, very expensive – we were told by one cruiser that 2 large loads cost him $70 US. With the free water at the anchorage Hotspur will be doing laundry by hand, as do many other cruisers.
Carolyne and I walked into town the first day – 45 minutes or so. Felt so good to stretch our legs. Several grocery stores in town, a bank with ATM and darling local girls who helped me figure out how to open the bank door. (You slide your ATM card through a slot to open the door – never seen that before).
Jim later found New Zealand canned butter, French corned beef and pate. We found the prices not to be too terribly outrageous – about $3.50 US for half a kilo of butter and $3.80 US for the corned beef.
We bought some of the longest green beans I've ever seen (we steamed them that evening and they were divine!!) and a handful of sweet bananas from a local woman selling produce out of her truck for $4.60.
We climbed a steep hill to try and get a good view – a woman in her truck stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift. She took us to the top and let us off – spectacular views!
Very little English is spoken here – Carolyne and I are busy trying to learn French as fast as we can. The Marquesan language is Greek to us altogether.

The 3 of us went to a local store and bought some champagne pate, fresh baguette, Hinano Tahiti beer and a soda and went to the local park for a picnic. We sat on large rocks under fruit trees and devoured our lunch. It was lovely!

Upon returning to the boat, a French official with a megaphone was calling across the bay requesting boats NOT behind the yellow markers to move (a large freighter was coming in that night). A mad rush ensued as captains and crew motored in and re-anchored – including Hotspur. It is very, very cozy in an unpleasant way... but what can you do? Seven boats moved (2 left the bay altogether) and one new one arrived just after the chaos settled. There are 23 boats now nestled tightly together and there are 2 more we know about scheduled to arrive today.

The water is murky green and the locals swim behind the sandbar at low tide in the riverlets – not in the anchorage. We would love to go swimming, but this is not the place to do it. We're not sure why, but when in Rome...

We understand the best archeological site with rock formations and tikis in all of French Polynesia is right here in Atuona and we plan a trip in the near future. Also the grave site of Paul Gauguin... and a museum dedicated to him with some of his works is right smack in the middle of town. Wednesday we receive our certificate for duty-free fuel and there is a very convenient fuel dock here for jerry jugging – we will take advantage of that.

So far, the feedback we're receiving from cruisers who left from La Cruz is that they are very happy to have arrived and they did not enjoy their passage. One woman who has made an Atlantic crossing swears it was so much easier compared to the Pacific. Of course, everyone envies our route and wishes they had done the same.

Day 3 it rained and rained and rained some more. That was laundry day – which is now re-scheduled. Jim and I were also going to try and lower the jib which appears to be stuck in the track – but again, we'll have to wait for another day. Our friends on s/v Round About arrived and we had fun catching up with them for several hours. The rain didn't stop Carolyne – she put her umbrellas in her backpack and complained enough until Jim finally went into town with her. Meanwhile, more boats anchored and we were up to 30 by the end of the day.

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