Friday, June 14, 2013

Making Friends and Memories in Fatu-Hiva

Luck was on our side today.  As soon I awoke this morning, I saw a dark, heavy cloud looming over the mountains of Fatu-Hiva.  I wondered for a moment if we should just stay onboard and not go out since it was obvious that the rain was going to come at any minute.
However, what seemed like another rainy day in paradise actually worked in our favor.  We decided to venture into town anyway and see what we could see before the rain got too heavy.
AMARA parked in the "Bay of Virgins" at sunrise.
We took the tender into the small town of Hanavave in Fatu-Hiva to explore the small village and see if we could find an adventure.
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I seem to be very serious about something.  I'm probably just thinking to myself, "Don't wreck the tender.  Don't wreck the tender…!"  
Lily enjoying the rain.
The Frey's standing in the rain for a family shot.
Fatu-Hiva is a little town that basically consists of a catholic church, a school, a small health clinic, an even smaller grocery store, one waterfall, two petroglyphs and a population of around 500 people.
From all our choices, we decided to shoot for the waterfall.  However, while on our way to the waterfall, we got caught in the middle of a torrential downpour.  At that point, we decided to just find shelter and wait out the storm.
Just a little rain.  No biggie.
We sought refuge in a small makeshift grocery store where the owner welcomed us in with open arms.  We sat in there and talked to her and she spoke back to us using her best broken english.  Just as the rain was going to let up, in comes our new friend (though we didn't know it yet), Augustina.
Augustina had come to the store to buy bread.  Later, I found out that she was a retired school teacher. When entering the store, Augistina went directly over to Lily and started loving on her.  It was so sweet.  That's when she told me that she was a teacher and had six children of her own.  She said that she just loved little children.  So much so, that she is watching her seven-year-old grandson and her one-year-old grand-daughter full-time since the parents work on different islands and are only able to come home for holidays.  
When Augustina walked up to Lily, she immediately noticed that Lily was delayed and asked me in plain, clear english, "What's wrong with this beautiful little girl?" I explained to her that there is no diagnosis for Lily, that she can't walk or talk and we aren't sure if she ever will.  Then she said something that both Martin and I have shared many times before about Lily.  Augustina said, "Oh, but she talks so clearly with her eyes!"  Of course, I teared up by her remark.  I love it when someone notices Lily and can see how expressive she is with her eyes.  It is true, Lily is very disabled.  Lily isn't able to express herself like we can, but she does talk with her eyes and lets us know often what she wants, how she feels and where she wants to be—just by using her eyes.  Augustina sensed this the minute she walked up to our beautiful little angel.
After that encounter, Augustina asked us what we were doing in the store and if we wanted some fruit from her home.  I caught myself saying, "Uh, YEAH… we'd love some fruit from your house!"  Martin politely asked, "Could we come with you and see all your fruit trees?"  Luckily Augustina had come in her truck.  So, we all piled in and she made room for Lily and me inside the cab and we headed to her brother's home.
Augustina's husband showing us the right way to split open a coconut to get to the water.
Augustina's grandson was also there and she promptly told him to, "Get in the car and take care of Lily."  I stayed in the car for a little bit while everyone started picking fruit because, between you and me, it was a little more rainy than I would have liked. (shhh!)
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Soon guilt got the better of me, and well, at that point they were cracking open coconuts.  Who doesn't want to watch a coconut get cracked open?  So I got out and started enjoying the fun.  Rain and all.
Meredith has been asking for a coconut the entire time she has been with us.  Well, today, she got her wish.
Note: The flower in Meredith's hair is called a "Tiare."  It gives off the most beautiful fragrance  (smells like a gardenia and is from the gardenia family).  Tiare's are often the main flower used in leis.  These flowers were growing wild everywhere.  I could even smell them from the boat as we entered the harbor the night before.
Coconuts for everyone.  
The coconut water was so good!  Once we finished drinking the water, we scraped out the coconut jelly/milk and ate every last drop.  (Note to self: Get rid of the hat!)
David and Sue enjoying the coconut jelly.  You scoop it out like ice cream.  Take it from me, it was really good!
IMG 2763 Meredith and Augustina picking oranges and pamplemousse (from the Grapefruit family).
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David gathering oranges while Augustina's son shakes the tree with a long bamboo stick.
After we got all the oranges, pamplemousse, coconuts and bananas that we could eat we headed for the truck to get back down to the tender.  Augustina's husband casually mentioned that he had just gotten a new outboard engine for his boat and wanted to show it to Martin and David.  He was so proud of it.  In passing conversation, he said that his one setback was that he didn't have the right stainless steel screws to mount the steering wheel on his boat yet and he was trying to figure out which screws he needed and how to get them to him since there are no Home Depots or West Marine stores for about 3,000 miles.  Martin and David's own "wheels" started spinning.  They both knew that they had just the screws that he needed to mount that steering wheel back on AMARA.
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After staying awhile and enjoying Augustina's family, we loaded the fruit into a huge grain sack and had Augustina take us back down to the dock where our dinghy was tied.
When we got back to AMARA, Martin and I quickly loaded into a bag a large bag of M&M's, a French chocolate bar, and David and Martin found the exact screws that Augustina's husband needed.  We even threw in a little cash for all the fruit that she gave to us, even though she had no intention of us compensating her for it.
Once we gathered everything up, Martin and I drove the dinghy back to the dock and saw Augustina and her grandson.  We were so excited to give her the treats and especially the screws to help out with her husband's dilemma.
Note:  What you may not realize is that Fatu-Hiva is in the middle of no where.  It took us 7 hours to get there by boat and there are no airports in Fatu-Hiva.  Augustina's husband would have had to wait for weeks to get the right screws delivered to him.
Augustina was soooo appreciative of our gifts and wanted to give the money back to us.  We said "no" and told her to use it to get something special for herself.
Bananas fresh from Augustina's banana tree.  
It's necessary that before bringing bananas on board, you have to dip them in the sea so that the salt water kills all the critters that are crawling around on the vines.  That way, it keeps you from bringing bugs onto the boat.
What a wonderful day!  It turned out to be just the kind of adventure that Martin and I are always looking for.  We will remember this day for a long time, along with the kindness of our new friend, Augustina from Fatu-Hiva.
Tomorrow's adventure waits...
AMARA at sunset.