Sailing and travel tales

Fantasia – The Marquesas

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Unlike Gauguin whose eyes rarely shifted from the people of The Marquesas my eyes feast on the incredible never ending variations and combinations of the dramatic volcanic landforms of these islands.

At first I thought it was a rebalancing act, eyes hungering for land again after more than three weeks of only sea and sky . Now after more than four weeks around these islands where there is always even more around the next peninsular, or in the next bay, I know it is awe and amazement of this beautiful ,unpredictable, natural creation called The Marquesas, that holds me enthralled.  From a boat at sea you see what Gauguin could not see living in a small bay, in the bottom of a valley between high steep razor back ridges.

Boney Ridges

From a boat you see the island’s boney framework of ridges rising one above the other up from the shore,  back to the central backbone ridge or sometimes a small plateau , up to 2000 –  3500 ft in the sky .The ridges are corrugated with side ridges  and outbursts of  basaltic volcanic rocks in many forms; ridges, spires, columns, giant odd rocks and escarpments  intersperse it all making a wonderful roll by of natural sculptural landforms. Many of them long ago named by the maoris such as The “Woman and Child” at entrance to Fatu Hiva and the three old men on the other side. (The early Catholic missionaries quickly changed the whalers’ name for the bay these rock s are in, “Penis Bay” to Baie des Vierges”)  There is a unusual row of “stone guardians”, or is a line-up of slaves waiting their turn to become dinner, at the south east point of Nuku Hiva Island and the King’s Crown , a crater ring of volcanic columns reaching high into the sky on Ua Pou Island.

Fatu Hiva

Mother & Child    The old men   The Penis

The wall of slaves

At Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, we were totally spoilt for choice – it seemed that everything was thrown at us at one time. From the sea we could see old lava flows making long, low, hard rock peninsulars with many eroded ridges rippling into the sea either  side of their back bone. The earth looked scorched, dark brown and black with an occasional patch of bright terracotta red or pale yellow ochre.

We saw a solitary giant gray cube of rock alone in the sea at the end of a peninsular.  Behind all a very high steep sided ridge running parallel to the coast, pierced with volcanic spires – seriously eroded into fantastic forms- and eroded vertical rock cliff faces. (I really don’t know why they did not make The Lord of the Ring’s film here) This high backdrop ridge caught the clouds coming in from the sea so coconut trees and others grew green on the narrow strip of habitable land along the sea shore. A deep, sheltered, lush green bay with, unusual for The Marqeusas,  a small coral reef just out from the shore rimming the beach with it’s white coral sand . Then further down the coast line another crown of spires crater remnant.



Overlay all that with the mottling interplay of sun and shadow, then factor in white puffy clouds on a clear blue sky, the deeper blue of the sea and the landforms ever sliding, overlapping, revealing, obscuring as the boat sails along; then I cannot put the camera down. This is the only time I see this spot like this because it is the only time I pass by. I fight with the movement of the boat to stand still and take clear shots – on “sport” mode!  It is such a feast, again and again and how I itch to explore it with my feet too.

Fairytale landscapes

Written by teoranga

July 3, 2012 at 9:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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