Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Day in the Life, including Marquesan Massage


IMG_1113One of the benefits of staying in any one place for a longer duration is that you get to become part of the local fabric for a relative drop in time. Our weather delay has allowed us to now know Jerome, Marguerite,  Xavier, and Rosita by name.  We’ve also come to know ‘Ua Pou as perhaps the friendliest of the islands.  We’ve been invited to several local events.  On two occasions we’ve been invited into vehicles to be shown the lay of the town (one of them was in a police car with the local Gendarme / Police).  Our friend Krister (s/v Brittania) has been invited surfing and offered wave after to wave in friendship. We’ve been gifted so much fruit that we don’t know what to do with it all.


IMG_1116It was just another one of those great who-knows-what-will-show-up-around-the-corner moments.  The day began with a wonderful morning spent at the local high school’s annual open house with dance performances, displays of the students’ work, and a general fair-like atmosphere.  We then visited the local Mayor’s office to view an exhibit of traditional costumes.  We were greeted by the barefooted 2nd Vice-Mayor, Rosita, who, it turns out, made all the costumes herself.  They were intricate and beautiful, made out of the traditional fabrics of coconut and breadfruit tree fibers, beaded with seeds and shells, and adorned with feathers and dyes.   Rosita told us stories of how she learned to prepare breadfruit from her grandmother, and she also showed us how a shell was used to peel cucumbers – all fascinating tidbits of Marquesan culture. 


Because Michael had pulled his back out a few days ago, we decided to ask Rosita if she knew of a massage therapist who could help him.  The one person she could think of did not have a phone, so she left the room to ask the police to go and fetch him. Given our own experience being toured around by the local police, it seems that ‘official business’ includes many out-of-the-ordinary tasks. 


We weren’t sure what was going to happen, or where the massage would take place.  Rosita soon assured us that there was a room at the back of the government offices with a bed that we could use.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, step aside. 


Ten minutes later, in walks a 400-pound ragged looking man with a bushy beard, torn and faded clothing, and dirtier finger- and toenails than I have ever seen.  He was our man.  We followed Rosita into the back room, Michael was told to lie down, and this man proceeded to pour massage (?) oil all over Michael’s back.  For 20 minutes he worked Michael’s lower back, and ended with squeezing two limes and rubbing those in.  The price for this service?  Nada.  Absolutely nothing.  He would not take a single franc. 


Tonight we will attend the island’s annual Fete de Mere (Mother’s Day) festivities.  It seems that everyone on the island will be there as this is a really big deal here.  The organizers have been preparing for days now. A fellow cruiser brought over the 8-piece band last night from Nuku Hiva. The price for the evening seemed steep to us (about $80 for the family) but it seems that the locals save up for this event, so how can we miss it? 


We hope to leave for the Tuamotus tomorrow afternoon, when this nasty weather is supposed to have passed.  The wait has clearly not been all that bad.



Hakahau Bay, ‘Ua Pou, Marquesas Islands

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