Our new friends, the family that treated us at their home/restaurant on Sunday invited us to go for a trip by jeep to the other side of the island (Taipivai and Hatiheu). The father and his friend were our drivers and we had an exciting trip to Taipivai about one hour away. Taipivai is a beautiful little village set in a tropical forested valley not far from the main city of Taiohae. When we arrived, the kids were tempted to go swimming in the nearby river but had forgot to bring towels. Instead we went to the home of the friend who proceeded to pick a variety of fruit from the trees in his yard. Before long we had a breadfruit, four mangoes, a papaya and even had a chance to taste some of the peanuts he was growing.
We continued on up a slick mountain road to the next village in Hatiheu Bay. As we mounted the steep switchback road it started to pour down with rain. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle in areas and Kirsten’s vehicle which was in front, led the way. She mentioned how nervous she was as they rounded one corner after another on the hour long drive to our next destination.
The view from the top of the mountain looking into Hatiheu Bay in the valley below was incredible. We could see the spike like pinnacle mountain tops to one side of the village and the blue lagoon harbour in front of the village. The road down into the valley switched back as we zig-zagged toward the town. Just before we arrived we stopped at the Hikoku’a ceremonial centre and Archaeological site that is still used every four years for large ceremonies and events by all of the Marquesian islanders.
At this location we took a stroll along a path that took us past an enormous banyan tree. It is said that the sculls of those eaten by the cannibals of the island were tossed down into the pits that are created by the roots of the tree. The bones however have been cleared away and given a proper burial. As we continued up the path the kids had a great time bonking the sides of the trees as did the ancient islanders to warn others of strangers coming ashore. The shapes of the trees make any tap on the side of it vibrate throughout the jungle forest and you can hear the sounds from far away.
As we mounted to the top of the trail we were able to get a close up look at some hieroglyphs that were etched into rocks near where the chief would speak to his subjects. I thought that perhaps this was kind of like our kids who like to doodle in church as they listen to the sermon. I think these rocks were perhaps the doodlers notepad of ancient Marquesas.
We descended the trail to look over a large field that had a number of restored buildings around the perimeter. This is where big island events are held. It was incredible to see the work that has gone into restoring this site and to see the various tikis along the edge of the field. The kids stopped by the path as they noticed some red bead like berries. They gathered up these poisonous berries to make some necklaces as the locals themselves do.
By the time we got back to the car we discovered that Jaeden had left the group to go on an excursion of his own. He had decided that he wanted to climb the enormous banyan tree which was so easy to climb with its rope like limbs climbing up. I think he must have climbed about 300 feet and back down again before we even got back to the car. I keep telling people I have a lot of monkeys on my boat… perhaps that’s why they give us so many bananas.
We drove through to town of Hatiheu briefly before continuing the drive back home. It was a good 4 hour trip all together and we had a great time exploring. Our only regret was that we had not brought mosquito spray to keep off the bugs. Kirsten in particular had an allergic reaction to the nono bites which for days later left her ready to pull her skin off.