02 Apr Taiohae, Nuku Hiva – Monday, 02 April, 2001
Don and I head up to the hotel Monday morning at 0800 to meet with Ismael, the bartender. We met Ismael Saturday night, when we ate dinner at the hotel. Marianne, the wife of the chef, who is also the restaurant manager and our waitress for the evening, had made arrangements for Ismael to take us up into the hills to gather fruit of all kinds. She told us that there is no fruit for sale in the stores, because all of the people here just go up into the hills and pick fruit. (Rose later told us that this is not true. All land is privately owned and that one should get permission to pick fruit. She told us to go ahead anyway because Ismael is such a nice person. “Go see what happens,” she said.)
Ismael and his 18-month-old son, Tevia, picked us up at the hotel and took us first to a tohua, an ancient ceremonial plaza. At the tohua, Ismael asked the caretaker if we could pick papaya. It turns out that the Aranui, the weekly supply freighter, had arrived before us that morning and the crew had already picked papaya for the boat. The ripe fruit was already gone, but we managed to find three that they missed. On the way to Ismael’s house we met his father, Emanuel, who gave us three big stalks of green bananas. We then went to Ismael’s home and picked limes, a red hairy fruit called rambutan, a green leechee type fruit called quinet, Marquesian apples, and some star fruit and dug manioc root (tapioca). At his house we met his wife, Donnya, and she joined us as we went to his brother’s house and picked oranges (with green rind) and breadfruit and then to his sister’s house and picked pompoumous (huge green grapefruit that are as sweet as sweet as can be). This is paradise. There is more food growing here than the people can eat; Ismael feeds his pigs on coconut and fruit. We took our generous haul of fruit back to Starr. Ismael, Donnya and Tevia come with us to the boat and we gave Ismael the plywood that we had used to build the cradle for our fuel bladder for the passage. It pleased us to be able to contribute to his house-building project, as lumber is extremely expensive here. We also made a contribution for costs of his petrol, as fuel here is $4 gal.
After lunch, Don and I headed to the bank to change money and finish whatever it was we were supposed to do to be legal in entering into this country. At the bank we were told that all we needed to do was to show the Gendarmarie our airplane tickets and to go to the Post Office to buy a stamp to mail our the paper that the Gendarmarie had given us on Sunday to Papeete. However, we had gone to the bank, which closes from 12-2 for lunch, first and now the Post Office was closed, because they do not close for lunch but close at 1500 instead. We are still not”officially” checked into French Polynesia.