28 May Hakahau, Ua Pou – Saturday, 26 May to Monday, 28 May 2001
(Back to our favorite place in the Marquesas and the story continues and gets better: two more Kaikais and another man with a dream. Also Don becomes “an angel” according to Pere Joseph.)
When we arrived at Hakahau, we are given a hard time by another boat in the small anchorage behind the breakwater. A guy on an sailboat from England must have been having a “bad hair day” because he tells us that we are too big to be in this harbor. This is the first time that this has happened and as we were sailboaters ourselves for most of our cruising life we have some understanding of the antagonism felt toward “stinkpots” by sailboaters. Don launches the rubber duck and goes over to talk to the guy after we have anchored. Don tells him that we were sailboaters in our previous life, that we try to be good neighbors and that he thinks that there is enought room in the ocean for both of us. The guy is still grouchy and complains about powerboats running their generators all of the time. Oh well, what can you do? Pascal is waving to us from the dock. Don motors over to say “hello” and learns that the Aranui will be in the harbor the next day.
Later in the afternoon we go ashore to check out what is going on. Everything is quiet as it is a four day holiday, Fete du Mamans (mother’s day). In the canoe house, we meet David, who is plaiting palm fronds to wear that night as part of his Hakka dance costume. Tonight there is a Kaikai to raise money for the Outrigger Club to go to Tahiti for the “competition”, the outrigger canoe race around Moorea in early July. We go over to the market building at the other end of the harbor, talk to Rataro who we met briefly on our previous trip to Hakahau. It is because of Rataro that the Outrigger Club was built. The money came from his earnings as a well known pop singer in French Polynesia, additional frunds were contributed by his family and he secured some money from the government, as well. He is the President of the Outrigger Club and earns his daily living as a nurse at the local infirmerary. We buy six tickets for the Kaikai for Mamens. Don asks Rataro for help in getting permission from the priest of the Catholic Church to record music the next morning. Rataro takes Don to meet Pere Joseph and everything is set up for the next morning.
The Kaikai is a wonderfully intimate event. While the Kaikai for Olivier and Jezebel had more than 250 people in attendence; this was small and intimate, mostly for the families and friends of the Outrigger Club boys. An opportunity to raise money but really they were just putting on a party in honor of their mothers. Rataro’s musical group performed and the canoe racers danced and waited tables. (Check out the picture below of the guys in their hakka dance costumes serving ice cream cones for desert.) I took pictures of David earlier in the canoe house and now all of what I begin to call “my hakka boys” want their picture taken too. We make a date for a photo shoot for Monday morning. Don and I, Chuck and Carol and Rob and Donna leave the Kaikai just before midnight (or else we will all turn into pumpkins). We walk the length of the waterfront in the balmy night air, listening to the music of the Kaikai. Back on Starr, the sound of the music carries across the water well into the early hours of the morning. Such are the sounds of life in paradise.
We are busy, busy, busy. Up and off to church by 0730 the next morning. Don places the microphone in the front of the church and we sit in the front row with the people playing the guitars, ukeleles, synthesizer and large hand drum. The music is magical. I decide that I really prefer going to church where I can’t understand a word that is said. I can, instead, think my own quiet thoughts and feel the passion that these people feel about their God, expressed in their music. The people of Ua Poe sing from their heart.
At noon we go to another Kaikai at the Outrigger Club, for Mother’s Day. We are the only outsiders included in this event for the families of the canoe racers. The menu included: BBQ pork, mako (shark) poisson cru, manioc, roasted bananas and breadfruit. It was a feast. After eating we talk to Rataro about his dream of providing a sense of purpose for the young men of Hakahau and of winning a race in Tahiti or in Molokai. (See Rataro’s Dream in the Profiles section).
The Aranui came into the harbor while we were at the Kaikai, so afterwards we went over to the quay to see Christian and Katherine who are on board giving a talk about their bamboo pieces. Pascal, in his official role of “tour guide” is also on board. We meet and visit with Rober Suggs, an archeologist who has been doing research and excavations in the Marquesas Islands since the 1950s. He is the guest lecturer on board for the two week trip. We have a very interesting conversation about politic in French Polynesia. The Aranui is 300′ long and fills up the harbor. The whole time it is at the quay there is a bustle of noise and activity. The freightor/passenger ship/copra ship remains at the dock overnight and its smelly, noisy generator is running the whole time. I have a few quiet thoughts about the English fellow who gave us a hard time when we entered the harbor; his sailboat is the one anchored the closest to the quay.
Back on board, Don and Rob spend the evening editing the recording of the music from the morning’s chruch service and cutting a CD.
Monday morning at 0900, Pere Joseph from the Catholic Church comes on board Starr. When Pere Joseph hears the CD, he begins to sing. He tells us that Don is an angel, because Pere Joseph has been trying to accomplish the project of making a CD of the singing in church for some time. Don is thrilled. He never expected anyone to call him an angel. He especially did not expect that the first and only Marquesean Priest in French Polynesia, a Marquesean who is decended from the royal family of Nuka Hiva would name him “my angel of music”.. Don thinks that this will never happen again in his life and he savors the moment.
Busy, busy, busy again. I take pictures of “my hakka boys”, David, Damas and Maurice at 1000. We meet with Aro, the stone sculptor, at 1200 and photograph his work. Pere Joseph comes with us and interprets, as Aro speaks only Marquesan. After we are finished, Rob goes with Pere Joseph to help him with his computer set up to make CDs. At 1500 when Rataro finishes work at the infirmerary, we go to his house and Rob helps him with his computer programs for music and for creating CD covers. Rob stays until early evening while Don and I move on to our next appointment of the day.
Don and I go to Tui’s at 1600. We brought him some new carving tools from Seattle. In this visit we learn that Tui’s French name is Augustine and that he is the uncle of Pere Joseph. Augustine, who is Augustine? We know him by the Marquesan name of Tui. We learn that the teachers in the schools, who are from France, couldn’t say many of the Marquesan names; so as children, all Marquesans are given a French name to use in school. Thus, Tui is also Augustine.
When we arrive, Tui is carving a beautiful war club. He has carved out the initial form of the club but has at least two days work left to finish it. We tell him that we are leaving on Wednesday and he agrees to bring the finished warclub to the quay by 1200 the next day. Tui gives us fruit to take back to Starr.