We are planning to leave Mangareva today, bound for the Marquesas. The forecast is for light winds, so we could wait for better , ie stronger winds, but we would need to wait quite a long time because we are generally in a system of light winds. However if we can get as far north as about 15 degr south, the wind should fill in from the east at a good strength.
Whatever , it is time to move. Not that one could not spend a lot more than 8 days at Mangareva. One could, with the right attitude, spend many weeks or months here. For example we haven’t been out to any of the other 7 islands in the group or to any of the little motu islets on the barrier reef.
What we have done is explore this main island fairly extensively by foot. Considering the loooong passage we just completed, foot exercise is highly recommended and enjoyable.
There are two small mountains on this island , both of which are pretty ascents. Yesterday morning I set off at 0545 and entered the jungle still in the dark. By the time I broke out of the forest the sun was shining on the upper slopes of Motoko, but I was relatively cool still in the shade.
From either of the summits , Motoko or Auotorini (MtDuff) one can see the entire perimeter of the island and the surrounding azure, coral strewn shallows.
Three days ago Doug and I climbed Auotorini.
Two days ago we walked several miles around the north end of the island , and cut back across to Rikitea via an ancient cross island trail.
There are coral stone ruins everywhere in the jungle. Walls , buildings, foundations,retaining walls for trails, and apparently random arches, all totally choked and engulfed by the jungle.
Some seem prehistoric, but some must date from the reign of the mad catholic priest , Pere Honore Laval. He arrived as a young man in 1834 from Valparaiso, Chile, having heard stories of a paradise with thousands of unconverted heathen in the South pacific.
Mangareva was unknown then, as it seems to be now.
Laval developed a monomaniacal reign of oppression on Mangareva over his forty year tenure and is blamed for reducing the population from thousands to a few hundred. Overwork and disease are cited as the main causes of the increased death rate.
That era persists in the form of the enormous cathedral in the main village with seating for hundreds. There is a ruin of a nunnery and a monastery in the jungle.
But today , Good Friday, a large crowd appeared on the coral-stone quay in their going-to-church Easter finery and carried a huge wooden cross from there to the cathedral. The Polynesian hymn singing is beautiful.
The economy is dominated by Black Pearl culture and there are some obviously wealthy citizens. The lagoon to the west is pretty much full of oyster culture farms. It is intense and apparently lucrative.
We went into a shop this afternoon and met a local woman who explained that she and her husband have a condo in La Vegas and go there 4 times per year , for gambling.
There are several merchants who are happy to exchange US dollars for Fr Poly Francs at a good rate , about 90 fr per dollar.
The air is a few degrees below body temperature, as is the seawater. There is an abundance of fruit on the trees. There is very little bad weather. The air and water are clean. The traffic is tolerable. The cost of living is high but not out of sight.
Why would one leave? How much of ease and perfection can I take? Well, not much apparently. Like about a week for me , perhaps more for Doug. We’ve walked , paddled, hiked. We haven’t learned the language , which is still commonly spoken.
But after only a week people are stopping Doug to ask him where his ‘brother ‘ is. A woman called us over this morning and said she was glad to see we’d made it down from the mountain.
A small truck of papayas and bananas stopped by us today. Where did you get that? Doug asked. ‘It was an adventure’ was the reply. Where can we get some? Right here. 1000 fr worth of bananas and papayas was plenty.
In the bush there are feral cats, and of course rats. So perhaps that’s why there are very few birds. I heard one little passerine call up on the mountain side, but otherwise no land birds.
Why do the bush roosters and chickens thrive?
The Tattler turns out to be very common, sprinkled around the shoreline.
A small night heron with what appears to be a white phase. A medium size all dark heron.
Crested Terns, White Terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds are in the bays. I assume that just a couple of miles away on the motus we would find the Boobies, and maybe a few petrels.
My original plan , in 2010, was to sail from the Galapagos to Mangareva and stay here from April through to perhaps August, then sail to Chile.
I certainly don’t regret spending that winter in Valdivia. If we had anchored in Mangareva for 4 or 5 months perhaps some French language skills would have been added to the repertoire. The other possibilities are interesting to consider.
If I were ever again to sail from the North America mainland to French Polynesia, I would strongly consider making Mangareva my first landfall. It only adds about 400 miles to the 2800 mile trip. One does get out of the tradewind belt and the breezes are more variable, but for many other reasons it seems more attractive.