A friendly sailor asked if we would like to join him on a tour of the island. His local friend was picking him up and we had 25 minutes to decide, get ready and go. Of course we cancelled our plans and said “Yes please!”
Lucian, our local guide was born on the island some seventy years ago and knew everybody and everything. He was an expert on flora, fauna and history. Some of the passes were very “exciting” but he drove the 4×4 expertly and we felt safe all the time.
First we headed up to the airport following the road we cycled up a few days ago. At the top we enjoyed the view, interesting ferns that close when you touch them, ferns that you can use the pollen to make white tattoos on your skin and Lucian’s stories of Hiva Oa.
The island is “wild”. It is the top of three volcanos that rise out of the pacific and drops straight in to the ocean on all sides. The vegetation is jungle and wild boars roam the forest. Animals and fruit are there for the taking and the people all smile. It is how I imagined paradise.
The descent to the north side of the island was very hairy and we were glad the worst bits had been concreted. As we drove along we continually paused to enjoy the stunning views or collect ingredients for lunch. A breadfruit tree supplied the main course and then Heidi was sent up a coconut tree to pick both the still water and sparkling variety. We collected mangos from the side of the road and were given grapefruits out of someone’s garden. Just before the beach we collected palm fronds and once there we lit the fire with them.
The breadfruit was cooked in its skin on the fire. We added some corned beef and all ate from the pan. We each had a coconut to drink and then ate the jelly from inside. Mangos and grapefruit would have followed had we not been completely satiated.
On the way back to the boat we visited the Tikis at the head of the valley. These massive stone carvings represent ancestors and are impressive and thought provoking set on their platforms on the edge of the forest. We also collected more fruit to take home with us.
An absolutely fantastic day of visiting the real Hiva Oa. We were so privileged that Patrick invited us and Lucian took the whole day to show us his Island.
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