Friday, July 06, 2007

June 27, 2007 - Fatu Hiva

Today we managed to motivate ourselves off the boat for a hike up to a waterfall. It was about 1.5 hours up and an hour back down. After three weeks of barely moving on the Pacific Crossing, I was completely done in by the end. The trail passed the ruins of a marae, or ceremonial site, way up in the hills. When there are only 150 people left in the village here, it is hard to imagine that once 80,000 people populated the half-dozen islands of the Marquesas.

The population in this village is very young. We see dozens of children and teenagers, but very few people over the age of 30. Diabetes is a major problem here. I'm chagrined that cruisers seem to be continuing the destructive legacy of the early explorers who brought the diseases to these islands that were the major cause of their depopulation. The other night I watched as cruisers passed out candy to the children of the village under a sign offering education about the causes of diabetes. "Bon bon?" seems to have replaced "bon jour" in the vocabulary of the local children. Everywhere I go, I'm asked for candy, and failing that, they run through the litany: nail polish, lip gloss, pen, paper, crayon. But my personal favorite is being asked for rum by an 11 year old. When I asked if she wasn't a bit young, she claimed that it was for her papa. Rigghhht. They've been told by their teachers not to beg, and their parents wish that they wouldn't, but they won't stop until we stop reinforcing the behavior. Okay, rant over.

On our way back to the waterfront after our hike, we passed by one of the copra drying shed. A group was working together to rinse out the coconut, and set it out to be dried in the shed. The dried nuts will eventually be processed into coconut oil.

Sten and Lars from s/v Luna caught a passel of fish today, so we invited Lars and Stephan and Martina from s/v Muline over for dinner. I've been trying to figure out what to do with the windfall of limes that have come our way (other than the obvious - margarita, caipirinha, gin and tonic, rum and tonic, etc), and baking seems to be the crowd pleasing thing to do. Lars loaned me a cup of flour so that I could try my hand at making the crust for a lemon (err, lime) meringue pie. It is wonderful having such willing guinea pigs. The filling didn't have quite enough time to firm up, but that didn't stop any of us for going back for seconds, or Lars from claiming the last slice.

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