Ah Les Îles Marquises! Stunningly beautiful islands, so green and lush, mountainous and full of wildlife! These islands are as far away as you can get from any continent. There are thirteen islands in the archipelago of which six are inhabited. We spent three nights in Fatu Hiva and then sailed to Tahuata for a swim and a snorkel in Hana Moe Noa Bay where we also caught up with some friend boats including two kid boats and had a great time. Now we are in Hiva Oa where we cleared in on Friday at the local gendarmerie. Check in was easy (one form only), free of charge and the gendarmes were very friendly (they even commented I looked so much younger than my passport picture :-D). They also guessed we had stopped in Fatu Hiva but made no big deal about that. Normally you are required to clear in at Hiva Oa first before visiting Fatu Hiva but it would have made for a hard upwind sail back and most people stop at Fatu Hiva first. We bought some delicious fruit on Fatu Hiva from the villagers. We had no local money yet but the locals preferred trading anyway. They asked us for wine, rope, petrol, bullets (for hunting), perfume or clothing. We settled on a bottle of wine in return for a big box of fruit and veg and some eggs. The fruit was most delicious especially the grapefruit (pamplemousse) was the best we ever tasted (and it grows everywhere here!). Hiva Oa is more populated and here we have to pay for our fruit and veg. On Saturday we did a tour of this island and visited an ancient archeological site with various size tikis. Hiva Oa is the best known of the Marquesas thanks to Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel who both stayed here. Gauguin painted some of his most famous works here and died here in 1903.
Tomorrow we leave Hiva Oa and continue our tour of the Marquesas: we still want to visit Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou before heading to the Tuamotus.