Day four finds us following into the footsteps of Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stephenson onto the island of Nuku Hiva and up to the to the magical banyan tree. Nuku Hiva is 1400 kilometres north of Tahiti, so we have sailed for forty hours with plenty of time to enjoy Aranui, but now we have reached our own idyll. We are not in Kansas anymore!
The tree we see was an ancient burial site, surrounded by human skulls of cannibalised victims. The drums and steady dirge of Ho, Ha, Hey, raised the hair on the back of my neck. These were warriors and their haka was meant to be a warning and if you didn’t heed them, you might have ended up here and then your skull would have been discovered about fifty years ago by archeologists.
Marquesians are so friendly and they seem so happy there is no reason to fear being eaten by them. The fear should be reserved for the Nono’s.
Seriously, it is the NoNo’s and mosquitoes that you have to worry about. We were dressed in long sleeves and long pants, covered in Deet and insect repellent and if you missed one spot, they would find it. We saw people covered in welts as we walked up to the top of the hill, where there were tikis and an archeological site. We looked for petroglyphs but didn’t find them. The rain started falling through the leaves and the path was covered in serious mud. We made our way down to hill to our cars and onto the Tohua for our local banquet of poisson cru, goat, chicken, plantains and salads.
The scenery is so different to the motus. The colour is different too, all shades of green. Verdant, lush and wild, you feel like you are on a movie set. Nuku Hiva means ‘to assemble the roof’ and you do feel like you are on top of a volcano that is being subdued with primitive greenness.
Tips: Use an insect repellent, spray yourself, spray your clothes, once dressed spray your shoes and socks.