Swimming with eels and Island travel

Time for a nature hike kids!

There is a waterfall lagoon in the center of this island (Nuku Hiva) that is known for it crystal clear waters and abnormally large eels.  Naturally, everyone thought it would be a good idea if we went swimming with them.  Apparently this is what one does at Daniel’s bay.  Hike for two hours, eat lunch, toss some baguette to the eels the size of my arm (literally) to draw them out, then go swimming with them.  Good times.  Oh and yes, eels have teeth.  So after leapfrogging over rivers, sauntering through canyons hundreds of feet deep, climbing through ancient Polynesian ruins and scaling some fairly large boulders…

You know what?  Describing natural perfection week after week is hard.  Here’s what we saw; you should watch it:

The eels were smart.  They grabbed the baguette, saw kids and got right back under those rocks before anyone got in the water.

Like I said above we also saw some ancient ruins and genuine historic tikis.  Much like the mangoes, these people have their history just scattered about them.  However, unlike mangoes, their history is not overly abundant.  Due to lack of funding & personnel, much of these ancient ruins are simply left.

Also the flowers.  I mean, wow, the flowers are everywhere.

Overall a great hike and yet another example of the fantastic beauty these islands have to offer.  This is the end of the Marquesas for us and we are off to the Tuamotu island chain.  We’re leaving behind our “Buddy Boat”, PROXIMITY, here at Nuku Hiva.  There are so many islands out here, which is shocking to me because my perception of the South Pacific was “ya know…there’s Hawaii, Tahiti, Guam, Bora Bora…and a couple more.  Ok, so here’s some numbers for you:

There are tens of thousands (yes, that’s plural) of islands in the Pacific Ocean.  In the South Pacific there are 3 “regions” of islands, of which Polynesia is one.  The Polynesian region is about the size of Canada & the US combined.  It’s big.  The other regions are also lacking smallness (kind of a theme out here).  French Polynesia is one of the larger countries in Polynesia and is about the size of the continent of Europe (yes, the continent).  In French Polynesia, there are 141 islands and they give you 3 months before they kick you out, unless you’re European, then you can stay way longer (thanks France… :P)  I know 90 days sounds like a lot, but really, it isn’t for so much space…and this is probably the first, last and only time you’ll ever get out here.  So this is your one shot to have an amazing life experience.  Here’s the dilemma: You want to stay and meet people and make friends and have awesome cultural experiences.  You also don’t want to miss any of the other cool stuff on the other 140 islands in this country…and let us not forget that our boat needs to be through the entire area in 90 days or less.  Important to remember those boats are slow and a couple of hundred miles between each island does make a significant difference.  You should also add in about a week or two for boat repairs, supplying, customs, etc.  What we’ve done so far has used up about 20 days.  It goes fast.

Everyone has a different way of dealing with this.  There is no way you’re going to be able to explore every island in 90 days so ultimately, you have to pick and choose.  How much time do you want to spend finding the out of the way more remote islands like Fatu Hiva vs. enjoying the people and culture of more developed main islands like Nuku Hiva?  Ok, and by “main island” remember I am talking about 2200 people on this entire island.  So a tiny US farm town population…it’s isn’t exactly crowded.  For the really adventurous, the Gambier island chain is a few hundred miles south and while it’ll eat a ton of time and there aren’t a lot of people there, you get a see a grand cathedral made entirely of coral, by hand (crazy priest, thousands of locals die in the construction, it’s a long story.)

Everyone says they want “off the beaten track” but we’re basically doing that by being here.  So how far off do you want to go?

Rod & Elizabeth from PROXIMITY are staying in Nuku Hiva to enjoy the culture of the Marquesas and make some friends.  Rod helped me learn the ukulele and they are both a lot of fun.  We will miss them and hope to see them down the line.  They expect to hit maybe one island in the Tuamotus before heading to Tahiti.  As for us, we want to see some of these coral reefs floating out in the middle of the ocean, so we’re heading out.

I know, we have to “rush” though French Polynesia because we only have 3 months living here.  It’s a heavy cross, but I bear what I can 😉

~Greg

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8 Responses to Swimming with eels and Island travel

  1. Michael Lockridge says:

    Were you hiking in flip flops across the Mario Bros river? You’re such a Californian…

  2. Greg Norte says:

    It was culturally appropriate! And those freaking flip-flops cost $25 US! Nutso expensive here!

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