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Can You Feel The Mana?

Jilly and I have an outgoing spirit with a certain twist that can’t really be explained very easily. It is something that has opened doors for us to see the local cultures a little below the surface. We greet the locals with a smile and a friendly “Bonjour” or “La Orana” and always say, “Merci” or “Maru’uru” when we’ve been served, assisted or in general courtesies. We try to learn the first names of those we regularly meet and greet them by their first names when we see them again. In watching other cruisers around us, it appears that we are just a small percentage of those cruising the islands that do this kind of thing.

Last Saturday evening, we decided to go into town for one of our last dinners for a while. We went to the Moana Nui pizza restaurant. It turns out that the restaurant was decorated for Mother’s Day here in the Marquesas. The restaurant was entirely reserved by locals except for one table for two near what we thought was the back of the restaurant. It actually turned out to be near the front entrance. They brought out the hand written menu and explained it to us. They had prime rib for dinner. Well why not? So we both ordered the prime rib and about fifteen minutes later our food came to the table. As it turns out, they cook it a bit differently here on the island. They slice the rib and then grill it to medium rare perfection. It was HUGE! I mean it covered over half the plate and it was about one and a half inches thick. It has been a long time since I have had prime rib, but I can tell you this, it did not suck.

Feel the Mana with TitlesShortly after we ordered our meal, Kevin of Nuka Hiva Yacht Services, his wife Annabelle and their children entered the restaurant and sat at the table next to us. Once again we got some more insight to the local culture from them. A three piece group of men began singing and playing a keyboard and an electric guitar. Somehow we had stumbled into another cultural event. We were the only white cruisers in the restaurant except for Kevin and he is a transplant from Pasadena in Southern California. He is considered more of a local than anything else.

We see the many cruisers with a take attitude. One that is stopping to get what they need before moving on…somewhat like locusts. Like I have said before, everything on these islands with the exception of the fresh fish and local fresh fruits and vegetables has to be brought to the Islands. And while we also participate in buying resources from the local market we also believe in putting back into the community. When we stop at the Snack Shack or the Tempatutui  restaurants where WiFi is available, we always buy something. One thing I’ve learned in water world is that nothing is free. These businesses have to pay for the WiFi for their guests to use. If you don’t buy anything and use their Internet, are you really a guest or a mooch? We were sitting in the Tempatutui  restaurant sipping a frosty cold beer we bought and were using their WiFi connection. Another solo male cruiser was sitting behind us using the Internet and he had not purchased anything from the restaurant. After about 10 minutes, we lost our Internet connection. No big deal right? A few minutes later, the woman running the restaurant slowly walked by our table and slid us a piece of paper with a new password access for the WiFi. And then a few minutes later the man approached us and asked if we had Internet. We told him that we didn’t think it was working and that we were working on photos and reading saved articles. Perhaps a little white lie, but we knew the moment the woman slid us the new password what was happening. So, I got up and ordered a second round of beer. Jilly walked up to the bar to get her drink and slid the piece of paper with the password on it back to her. The woman got a big smile on her face. As it turns out, she speaks English and overheard what we had told the man. We just smiled back at her and then walked back to our table with our beers.

While sitting on Dazzler in the anchorage, we have been watching the locals canoeing in their single outrigger style canoes most afternoons. While walking around town, I had noticed two distinct canoeing clubs. The last night we were in Taiohae Bay, I was sitting in the cockpit playing my ukulele when one of the paddlers stopped by Dazzler. He had traditional tattoos and wore a choker around his neck that had tusks from a wild pig he had killed. He explained that the pig had killed his favorite dog during the hunt, so he had some of his dogs bones also on his choker. He explained that he and the others have been out practicing for a competition that occurs at the end of June. We enjoyed a nice conversation with him before he had to get back to practicing for the competition. We saw him later that week and he smiled and exchanged hellos with us.

Jilly and I believe that somehow we are giving off some kind of vibe, karma or mana that opens doors and opportunities for us in these small communities. Perhaps it is adventurous curiosity or perhaps we are seen by our actions or its mana. I’m not saying we are the only cruisers that act like this. It just seams to be a rare personality trait that is not viewed in other’s actions.

I know I have mentioned that in the recent past during our hikes to waterfalls and other island ancient grounds, we have both felt the presence of a spirit that has surrounded us. It is a feeling that can’t very easily be explained. And it is one that is best described by the definition of mana.

Mana is described as a:

(noun) prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma – mana is a supernatural force in a person, place or object. Mana goes hand in hand with tapu, one affecting the other. The more prestigious the event, person or object, the more it is surrounded by tapu and mana. Mana is the enduring, indestructible power of the atua and is inherited at birth, the more senior the descent, the greater the mana. The authority of mana and tapu is inherited and delegated through the senior line from the atua as their human agent to act on revealed will. Since authority is a spiritual gift delegated by the atua, man remains the agent, never the source of mana. This divine choice is confirmed by the elders, initiated by the tohunga under traditional consecratory rites (tohi). Mana gives a person the authority to lead, organise and regulate communal expeditions and activities, to make decisions regarding social and political matters. A person or tribe’s mana can increase from successful ventures or decrease through the lack of success. The tribe give mana to their chief and empower him/her and in turn the mana of an ariki or rangatira spreads to his/her people and their land, water and resources. Almost every activity has a link with the maintenance and enhancement of mana and tapu. Animate and inanimate objects can also have mana as they also derive from the atua and because of their own association with people imbued with mana or because they are used in significant events. There is also an element of stewardship, or kaitiakitanga, associated with the term when it is used in relation to resources, including land and water.

 I know it is easy to get caught up in having to get something fixed that broke on your travels to paradise. Having to order some critical part for your boat. Or, your crew just jumped ship and you’re stuck looking for more crew. Whatever the many reasons it could possibly be, don’t forget to smell the coffee, flowers, peanut butter, crepes or experience the mana. Perhaps by slowing down, looking around or adding a few more items to your daily routine, additional doors may be opened and opportunities could unfold right before your eyes to provide a deeper cultural experience while visiting paradise and feeling the mana of the land, people and natural resources.

Until next time, Maruuru

Captain Dan

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Daniel’s Bay, Nuka Hiva

Blog ViewWe arrived here in Daniel’s Bay on the island of Nuka Hiva. Yep, my honey has his own special place down here. It is just four miles from Taiohae Bay where we’ve been for the past week. It’s a nice little bay with rocky cliffs on one side and a semi-white sand beach on the other. So far there are just five boats here. It’s a nice change from where we were surrounded by fifty or sixty other boats in Taiohae Bay. We know all the others here with the exception of one French boat.

They tell us there are sharks here in this bay so no swimming. Ernie on SV Patience was fishing from his dink last night and said he saw four or five sharks chasing the fish he caught. And, he saw a Tiger shark. They are pretty territorial and can be aggressive. It’s okay, I don’t need to swim here. Plus we’ve had quite bit of rain this week which means all the run off from the mountains is making the water a bit murky. I’ll wait until we get to the Tuomotus where the water is crystal clear. If I’m going to be eaten I’d at least like to see it coming.

Apparently a few years ago they filmed an episode of Survivor here. Never watched it so I couldn’t tell ya anything about it. The waterfall here is said to be the 3rd tallest in the world however I can’t confirm that. I doubt we will hike all the way to it as you have to wade, waist deep through a murky pond filled with fresh water eels. They say they don’t bite but will rub against you and may nip at your legs. No thank you! I’ll pass on the eel experience.

I’ve read that you can hike about halfway there and see 60-70% of the falls so we may do that. I really want to see the ancient ruins along the way so we’ll see. SV Nightide and SV Patience are leaving tomorrow for the 4-5 Day trip to the Tuomotus. All of us are getting together for sundowners and nibbles on Nightide this afternoon. Like I’ve said before we really don’t feel like strangers in a strange land here as it seems we have friends around every corner.

Ed & Linda on SV One Fine Day are coming in as well. We’re becoming pretty good friends. I wish we could head to the Tuomotus with them this week but we have to wait for the generator so we’re stuck here for about two weeks. Of course there’s worse places to be stuck I guess.

This afternoon Dan is napping and I’m in the hammock looking for sharks. Hope I get to see a few….from the safety of the boat of course.

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Blog CoconutToday is a new day and we are loving Daniel’s Bay. Yesterday we decided to go on a hike with Ed & Linda to the waterfall for the day. When we were getting ready to leave we saw a black tip shark come out of the water and grab a fish just about twenty feet from the boat. That was amazing as his whole body came out of the water while he chomped down on his prey!

We headed to the beach on the dink and realized we needed to add air to the dinghy wheels so had to head back to the boat. On the way we saw a five foot hammerhead shark swim right along side of the dinghy. OH WOW! THAT WAS AWESOME! My camera was in the waterproof case in Dan’s backpack so I didn’t get a pic but I’m hoping he’ll come back. We saw him again after we reached the boat. We also saw about a half dozen or so black tip sharks. None were very big but it was still awesome to see. Definitely no swimming here! LOL

We made it back to shore and then had to walk a trail that snakes along the bay here to get to the village. The village is absolutely stunning. We’re still amazed as we travel through these places at how manicured the grounds are around these villages. As we arrived in the village we saw a few people harvesting coconuts. They harvest them and then dry them for copra which is used to make coconut oil and other coconut products. It’s their big export here. The guy sitting on the ground was named Teiki. He was a pretty scary looking dude. You can tell he’s lived here his whole life. I’m guessing he’s probably about thirty or so. He is covered in Marquesan tattoos. Even half of his face is tatted up. And his hair is shaved back about halfway on his head. He has some big ol’ muscles too. His two front teeth are ground down to look like fangs and he’s got a strange look in his eyes. Of all the islanders we’ve seen, he looks most like he could be a cannibal. He was super nice but still a little scary. His wife, Kua, was very sweet. She asked if we wanted any fruit and then started taking orders from us. We ordered some mangos, pamplemouse, limes, oranges and we even asked for a coconut. I’m going to make macaroons for us. Yummy! Kau also told us to stop back by their house after our hike and she’d have some ice cold, fresh juices and ice cream for us.

We had to go out toward the beach to pay their uncle, Paul, to allow us to go to the falls. His home isn’t much but the view is amazing! They charge $10 USD per person to hike the trail. The money they collect helps their small community of Hakaui and it was completely worth it. Walking through the village and then the jungle was lovely. We even Blog Waterhad to cross the river a few times. The water was about knee deep but it felt amazing! It was really cold and we were really hot. Along the way we ran across ancient ruins, tikis and other unique things. We never made it to the falls as us old folks just started losing steam. Linda has issues with RA so we decided once we reached the large opening where we could see part of the falls we would go back. Even at that we hiked almost two hours into the jungle.

Blog Waterfall2

~Blog EdBack in the village we stopped at Teiki’s home where his wife, Kau, made us fresh juice. Ed, Linda & I had pamplemouse and Dan had this yummy mango drink that was thick and ice cold. It was like they froze the mango then blended it. Dan & I each had a little ice cream as well. He had coconut and I had banana mango. She makes it fresh. Their home is very traditional Marquesan. The only closed in room is the kitchen and it doesn’t have a door. It just opens to the outside. They have a huge stand alone freezer so they obvioulsy get power. Didn’t see solar panels so I’m thinking it’s hydroelectric power like the other islands. There is a roof that covers the entire place and they sleep in tiny tents on the stone floor outside. They have a large picnic table under roof and they will make dinners for you there for a price. It’s sort of like we did in Fatu Hiva. They had a grill made of half a metal drum and on it they had a pig head boiling in a pot! YUCKY! It is amazing how little these people have yet they are all so happy and smiling. The photo of Ed sitting down is “inside” of their home. I use the word inside but as you can see…inside for them is still outside. Teiki came back to the house while we were there. He and Kau speak pretty good English. He started rearranging his spear guns and I felt a little uneasy. He had four of them and there were four of us…Were they feeding us food to make us more tasty??? Of course I’m joking and they were nothing short of gracious hosts. He even made certain to tell us not to eat the fish in the next anchorage as it has ciguatera. That’s something reef fish get and is common down here. You never eat reef fish in Polynesia without talking to the locals first. Pelagic fish like tuna, wahoo and mahi are always safe and that’s what we like anyway.

Blog D & JOf course we paid for the drinks, fruit and ice cream. We toted a whole slew bang of fruits back to the boat. The mangos here are different than in Florida. They are really sweet and a slightly different texture. I’ve never been a mango fan but these are starting to grow on me. Don’t tell Dan because I told him I would never like them.

Blog with ED & LinLast night we went to Ed & Linda’s boat for sundowners and she ended up making dinner for us as well. We had a really nice time. We do so enjoy hanging out with them. They are really good people and lots of fun!

Today we’ve been working on projects. Dan opened the coconut and got all the meat out and shredded it. I’ve dried it and tomorrow will be making macaroons. Tonight Ed & Linda are coming over here for dinner. Looking forward to another nice evening with them.

We’ll be leaving tomorrow to head north around the island. There’s another bay that is supposed to be the most awesome bay in all of the Marquesas. Well, you know, can’t pass that up.

Until Next Time,