Around Taiohae, Part III – The Road Tour

We wanted to see some of the island of Nuku Hiva; we’d heard there were interesting archeological sites, and we’d been told of a really good restaurant – Chez Yvonne’s – on the other side of the island. Friends John and Diane on Konami were interested in joining us, so the two couples arranged to rent a vehicle for a day through Nuku Hiva Yacht Services and we set off on a Saturday morning adventure. Kevin, owner of Nuku Hiva Yacht Services, had given us a map and information about what we might want to see. The rental agreement was basic: If we had an accident, we were liable for Kevin’s deductible; don’t park under any coconut trees; and try not to hit any cows, horses, or donkeys; chickens were fair game.

Beachcombing

Beachcombing at Comptroller Bay, our first stop.

A small river drains into Controller Bay

A small river drains into Comptroller Bay

The 'necessary facilities' in this little park.

The ‘necessary facilities’ in this little park.

Church in Taipivai

Church in Taipivai, near the head of Comptroller Bay.

A gotto was built, presumabely for baptisms. The tradition of stone ceremonial sites continues.

A gotto was built, presumably for baptisms. The tradition of stone ceremonial sites continues. As always, we could see evidence in several stones of having been re-purposed from ancient native Marquesan sites.

Road sign to the tiki site that Herman Melville wrote about.

Road sign to the tiki site that Herman Melville wrote about.

Pathfinding on the way to the tiki site that Melville wrote about in Typee.

Pathfinding on the way to the tiki site that Melville wrote about in Typee.

Typical view from the trail

Typical view from the trail

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Cleared site with several platforms that are typical of Marquesan archeological sites. Probably function was to serve as location for different types of ceremonies or rituals.

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Platform typical of ancient sites in these islands. It’s difficult to imagine the amount of labor it took to construct these stone structures – all with very straight walls and square corners.

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The central platform

The central platform, surrounded by tikis.

Baie Anaho

Baie Anaho, our next destination.  We planned to have lunch at Chez Yvonne’s in the village of Hateheu.

The church in Hateheu. Some of the stones in the building front wall are clearly from the ancient sites, showing striations and holes from working the stone.

The church in Hateheu. Some of the stones in the building front wall are clearly from the ancient sites, showing striations and holes from working the stone.

Tiki at a major site near Hatiheu

Tiki at a major site near Hateheu. This grim tiki has a skull head and is holding a dead child and weapon.

Another tiki at the same site.

Another tiki at the same site.

 

I could see that this is a turtle

Sea turtle. All of these tikis had meaning to those who created them and used the site, but we were left to simply speculate as to what was being represented and its meaning.

The landscape reminded me of scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy

The third site had a landscape that reminded us of scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy

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This was the third site we visited and by far the largest, covering acres. And that was only the parts that had been cleared. Large platforms surrounded a clearing in the center. Perhaps a communal gathering area? What appeared to be stone-lined drainage courses were laid across the site. Several platforms had deep “wells” that, we were told, were used for storage and also for hiding things.

Petroglypshs. We wondered if these predate the tiki carvings or were just grafitti at the time.

Petroglypshs. We wondered if these predate the tiki carvings or were just grafitti at the time.

A sacred Banyan tree with Taro plants in the foreground.

A sacred Banyan tree with Taro plants in the foreground.

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