MEGALITHIC TIKI, HIVA OA
Rainy day – our first. The early-morning view of Hiva Oa is through mist. The fog clings to the peaks behind the strip of beach that fronts the village of Puamau. Up the hill is the meae and archeological site we would visit after breakfast.
We had a choice: a 40-minute walk in the rain or a 5-minute ride by car. I opted for the latter, as most others do also. It was a perfect day for visiting a place so rich in somber ritual and history. This meae, though not as large as some of the others we had visited, did have the distinction of having the grandest tiki. Megalithic tiki is how they had been described, and they do not disappoint. I posed beside one of the largest tiki and I am dwarfed. The centerpiece rock platform and banyan tree are absent from this site. The banyan tree probably died centuries ago and the platform has likely be repurposed. Much of this site has been restored to what is thought to have been its original form. The tiki have been righted from their fallen postures and, in some cases, moved. While perhaps not historically accurate, this site is quite photogenic.
- Read the full version of French Polynesian Adventure – Freighter Cruise from Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands – part one on Travel Boldly
THE TOMB OF THE LAST CHIEF
A short walk back down the road from the meae toward the beach is the tomb of the last Marquesan chief. It sits in the yard of one of the Puamau residents. The stone-walled tomb is flanked by two three-foot, stone tikis that often have a panoplied roster sitting atop the carved stone columns. Behind the chief’s tomb is a corrugated-steel-roof shed with a near-new pickup truck and colorful steel barrels beneath. Nearby, a tethered baby goat bawls. Life goes on all around, and sometimes right on top of, the island’s revered ancestor.
Puamau has a wide and soft sand beach. Many of the passengers from the Aranui take a swim despite the rain. Lunch is onboard the ship today. Soon we’d be on our way to another village on Hiva Oa. Hanaipia is just around the bend, so it won’t take long.
We are entering the second week of our cruise. Some colorful destinations lay ahead. Join me next week as the adventure continues in the Marquesas Islands.
NEXT TIME: Jerome continues his 15-day French Polynesian adventure in the Marquesas Islands with a return visit to one of the islands used as a location for the CBS TV show “Survivor”, a Pacific Ocean crossing back to the Tuamotu Islands, and eventually a return to Papeete, Tahiti.
Jerome is a writer and photographer based in Denver, Colorado. Read more of his stories on Travel Boldly. Jerome teaches travel photography workshops in Cuba and other locations. Though he grew up in Nebraska, he loves islands and cruises. He can be contacted via Facebook or Twitter or or <a href=”https://plus.google.com/117720566271763451532? rel=author”>Google</a>
Note: This trip was sponsored by Aranui 3, Fox Global Communications,Air Tahiti Nui, and Tahiti TourismTahiti Tourism.
The prices quote in this article are based upon the exchange rate available during the voyage aboard the Aranui 3 of 94 XPF per US$1. This rate may vary from cruise to cruise but is fixed at the beginning of each cruise for its duration. Money can be changed at the front desk from 6 to 7 p.m. each night. Guests are allowed to run a tab in the ship gift shop and the bar during the trip.
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