The anchorage at Hakatea is surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs – lovely – and has a friendly village to walk through on your way to a lush green valley with a waterfall which you must swim under (or hike over) boulders to access. We did the hike with Southern Cross and it was one of our favorite experiences in the Marquesas.
We were warned by the villagers that someone had their skull crushed in the day before by a falling coconut! I had always heard that more people die from falling coconuts than shark bites in the tropics and still don’t know if that is true. Also, another person said it is the first time they know of that happening in the area. Still, when we hiked by a pile of hard hats, we took advantage of them. Plus, helmets are dead sexy.
We took great video of the falls so I’ll save that for another post someday, somewhere when we have real internet.
The hike (and company) were fantastic and alone would have made the bay worthwhile but on our way back to the boat two different people tried to teach Carol how to husk a coconut. The story goes something like this: The four of us walk through the village and an industrious family who is interested in selling us fruit offers us some lemonade which we accept. Southern Cross has brought a hat as a gift which they had asked for on a previous encounter. They also feed us banana fritters (delicious – heck, they are fried, right?) and even after we decline a purchase offer a coconut husking lesson which Carol jumps on. After a number of pointers, Carol husks the coconut successfully.
We decide we want to try again and so we pick up a coconut when we are not far from our dinghy. As we are walking to our dinghy we meet some water taxi dudes* who jokingly tell us that they are customs and we must show our papers. We show the coconut and tell them this is our document. They find this amusing and ask us if we can husk the coconut and we say “kind of”.
They bust out their machete, hack off a stick, sharpen it, and show Carol how to husk a coconut with the stick propped between rocks. With a few blows from the stick they split the coconut in half. Then they sit on the stick with the husk as padding and shred half of the coconut into the other half with the pointy stick.
Carol trades for some fish and while they are on the boat completing the transaction, the guy tells Carol to grab some salt and a bowl. He hacks off a new piece of fish and takes it back to the beach. He chops up the fish and limes and salts it in the bowl.
While he is doing this the other guy has taken some long tough fibers from the inside of the husk and they take the grated coconut and squeeze it through the fibers to create coconut milk.
Several smaller sticks are sharpened into chopsticks and voila – we all eat poisson cru by the trailside.
Again, I took video which will have to wait. This was an amazing experience – the kind I want to collect.
* For those of you who heard the bizarre headlines about cannibals eating a sailor in the S Pacific (no evidence of cannibalism, just murder), these water taxi dudes had ferried a boatload of police officers, investigators and other related people to investigate this crime which had occurred in the vicinity of Hakatea. Depending on who you believe, a German boater and a Marquesan man went goat hunting and there was (or was not) drugs, was (or was not) sexual activity between the men that (was or was not) consensual after which the Marquesan killed the German and (did or did not) sexually assault the German’s female companion who was still on the boat. The story going around the cruising world is that the German was killed by the Marquesan and lured the woman off the boat to go find him and assaulted her. The story as told by the Marquesan taxi dudes is that the German got the Marquesan really high on something he wasn’t used to, tied him up and assaulted him and when he got free the Marquesan dude freaked out and killed the German (with no explanation about the woman).