The Marquesas Islands. The Impression
What a beautiful place this is. It reminds me a lot of New Zealand with it's green green slopes and low lying bush. It differs with it's Dramatically high cliffs and spires, its lack of people and its limited infrastructure. It has very quickly rivaled our impressions of Mexico(which were very high) and given us a very warm and comfortable welcome to the South Pacific. We liked our time here so much we stayed twice as long as we planned
When I first stated really looking into where we were going on this trip I had never heard about the Marquesas Islands but it was a must see on a number of peoples lists who had done this trip before. It is a small grouping of islands between 8-11 degrees south and 138-141 degrees west. It makes up the Northeastern limit of French Polynesia and is Governed out of Tahiti(I get the impression here people are not overly excited about this). It has a population of around 8500 people.
Our original itinerary had us going no where near this part of the pacific. However due to refrigeration issues(as noted in past posts) our plans changed a little. I guess it is here that I say it was lucky for us but I am getting the opinion it really doesn't matter where you go around these parts it is all new and exciting.
Like I mentioned earlier the Marquesas is very steep, very dramatic looking, very green and very lush. It has a good mix of fertile dense bush, high forest and your stereotypical island vegetation. There are a lot of coconut trees but they are mixed into the other vegetation which i found strange. We arrived during the rainy season and hence it has been very wet. A lot of our walking and hiking has been in mud and surrounded by flies. It is still very pretty and well worth the effort.
It took us a little while to figure out what people eat here and how to get hold of what we want to eat. Food can be expensive. We have had to be picky and adjust to what is available. The thing we have struggled with the most is alcohol. We are not big drinkers but we do like to drink a little and there are 5 of us. A 12 pack of beer costs around 30 dollars american(more for budwiser because that is a PREMIUM beer) and a bottle of wine between 25 and 80 dollars. So our drinking has declined but the really frustrating part about this was we could have stocked up on 10 dollar bottles of liquor in Mexico and saved us a lot of money. But then we probably would have drunk more so maybe that was a fateful move.
The good from a food perspective was the fruit. It is everywhere and very plentiful. Coconut, Mango, breadfruit(you cook it and it tastes like potato, a Potato flavored fruit!), a local apple type thing, banana and our favorite Pompelmoose(local grapefruit). We had heard conflicting reports as to how to get hold of fruit and vegetables. It is very tempting to just take what you see as it is all right there. However we had heard that because no shops sell fruit or vegetables all the fruit trees are accounted for and it amounts to stealing if you take any. We had also heard you should just take what you want but that came from other sailors in other areas and we have learnt not to trust this as a source of information. The sailing community like any community is prone to blanket statements, out of date information and just plain bullshit. There is a lot of really useful information too it is just hard sometimes to identify the difference.
It took us a week to 10 days to figure out our system but once we did we have been drowning in fruit and vegetables and have been very happy. Our system is this. You talk to people and interact as much as possible and when they give something to us we make sure we give something back. In our case it has been volunteering Don's skills as a music engineer(which have been in high demand), baking bread for people or trading music. We now take any outside information we receive with a large grain of salt and make a quick be-line for the locals when we get to a place. This has worked very well so far and has enhanced our experience and impression of the islands dramatically.
For all the good things I can say about the scenery, for us the reason to come to the Marquesas is for the social experience. Maybe we just timed it well as we have been around for a number of music events. Maybe we have been really lucky(we definitely have) or maybe we just gravitate to these situations. We have met a lot of people and have been amazed by the hospitality and friendliness we have found. The Marquisen people are good people with good hearts and a warm welcome. They can be very intimidating (like any Polynesian nation, i think) until they smile and speak and then we have had nothing but good experiences. We will be sad when we leave here but we have already stayed to long.
So those are our impressions so Far. I hope you will get more perspectives from others but I think they feel like one post per month is enough. Everyone is different ah.