Day 16, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Nuku Hiva first appears in the distance as a blue gray shape rising above the horizon, its outline is sharp and angular and there is no detail or color. As we close, the hazy gray outline slowly transforms into a lush green as the mountains come into focus covered with coconut trees and foliage. Signs of civilization finally become visible as the ship slowly creeps into the bay near Taiohae, the islands major town, dropping anchor and settling in for the day. This was the scene as I walked 7 laps of the promenade deck while listening to more of my book “Killing Reagan”.
The local authorities arrived at 9:30 and the ship was cleared to disembark passengers an hour later. They started to hand out tender tickets in the Wajang Theater at 10:30. People were given blue, playing card size, tickets marked with numbers starting at 10 and going up. They changed the number every 15 people, so the first fifteen were assigned “blue 10”, the second 15 “blue 11” and so on. Our ticket was blue 17 meaning that there were about 100 people ahead of us. They called for tickets 10-14 almost immediately to proceed to deck A and board a tender. As we settled in to wait, I walked back to the Theater and discovered that they were now handing out Blue 24 – and the Theater was empty meaning the initial rush was about 200 people. Once they called your number, you proceeded to deck A via the forward stairs and were merged in with the priority tender folks. Each tender would leave with about ½ of the people with priority and the remainder with tickets.
The tender ride was about 10 minutes and we set foot on Nuku Hiva at 11:29. Usually the ships photographer sets up some props with a local model or a giant banana or something to encourage people to take arrival pictures. When we arrived, we had to search out the ships photographer who then took our photograph on our request. They sell very few pictures on these long cruises, but they seem to almost have given up trying to create any interest. We bought the package where we get a copy of every picture for a fixed price so we always seek out the photographers at every opportunity.
We had prearranged a private tour for 12 of us (spread across 2 vehicles) that would spend about 3 hours driving to various viewpoints. One driver spoke English and the other only French. We would stop together and the English guide would then give the entire group an overview of what we were seeing.
The weather was very hot and humid, and fortunately our vehicles were air-conditioned, so after each stop we had a chance to cool down before moving on the next.
Here is a screen capture of our tour route from my Garmin Edge 810 GPS
Our first stop was at 1600 feet above sea level overlooking the town with a view of the Amsterdam anchored in the bay. Along the way we drove by wild horses – a mother and her pony was big hit – as well as roosters and chickens wandering along the road.
The road was about 1 and ½ lanes wide and ranged from a paved surface to a gravel road full of potholes. We drove to the north side of the island for more views and then retraced our path back toward the town where we started. We stopped in a small town called Taipivai where we saw some wooden kon-tiki style statues and a large drum we all had a chance to play.
On the way back we passed a 20 car caravan which was the ships tour. Each vehicle had number if the window and the passengers would get out at each view spot and gather together to listen to the single English speaking guide.
Our final stop was the Notre Dame Church where we had a chance to look inside the modest interior and then either walk the 10 minutes back to the tenders or have the drivers take us back. We were hot and tired and elected not to walk.
We spent about 20 minutes wandering thru the shops and then headed back to the ship about 4 pm. There was WIFI act a snack bar right on the pier, but it was so crowded, you couldn’t log on until someone left – and turnover was slow. There are other wifi hotspots around, so always check for signals and then ask for a password from where you think the hot spot is hosted. Sometimes they charge and sometimes they don’t.
We enjoyed the Sail-away party near the Seaview pool where they passed out a chicken and pineapple appetizer on a stick. Very tasty. The weather was much cooler in the bay and we watched the last tender approach, and get hoisted aboard. Promptly at 6pm we left our anchorage and headed out to sea.
Sarah Chandler, the saxophonist, www.officialsaxation.com, joined our table for dinner a second time and we had a lovely time with a wonderful meal – again. The food has been consistently outstanding the entire cruise.
Peter Neighbour, provided the entertainment this evening. He plays a clarinet and was simply marvelous receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. He specialized in Swing Era Jazz and was accompanied by 3 house musicians – Bass, Drums and Piano.This entry was posted in Uncategorized