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Monday, May 19, 2008

May 14 & 15, 2008 HivaOa

Today we left at 6:30 AM for the 8-hour passage to Hiva Oa, which was home to artist Paul Gaugin who is now buried there. There is a lot of history and several archaeological ruins on Hiva Oa. About an hour into our trip we noticed that the watermaker had been running for a while but was not producing any fresh water. Frank turned it off and said, "damn bananas!". See, according to sailing lore, bananas are bad luck on a boat & we do not usually allow them but nearly all of the other boats had
bananas hanging so we decided to forego superstition in Fatu Hiva. Thinking back, we had bananas on Destiny when the scuba tank crashed through our front windshield. So the dozen or so remaining bananas took a dive into the Pacific immediately.

The sail over was great! We had good winds and made good time, arriving in Traitor's Bay by 2:30 PM. We gathered our documents and cash and went ashore. The walk into the town of Atuona is about 40 minutes - uphill, which we didn't mind because we are craving the exercise. The check-in process is an adventure in and of itself. We arrived at the bank just as the doors were being bolted; closed for the day, so we just got some cash from the ATM. There is only one bank in town by the way so we
were advised to get there at 7 AM the next day when the door opens otherwise we would have a long wait in line. We walked back to the boat to regroup, passing by the Atuona Car Rental building and thought - why not! The fellow there told us he was out of cars but would have one at 6 PM. We wanted a compact, but got a double cab Toyota Hilux pick-up truck for the same cost. No problem! After picking up the car we went for a fabulous dinner at one of the two local restaurants. At dinner we ran
into Mark and Danielle (from Holland), cruising the world on their catamaran Margarita, with their 3 young children.

The next morning (Thursday), we gave Mark a ride to the bank and were very glad to have him along because he speaks fluent French! Although the bank opens at 7, they won't do currency conversions or bonds until 8 which meant we waited anyway. We enjoyed watching the locals enter the bank, kiss and greet each other and then take a seat to await their turn. So much more civil than the hustle bustle we are used to. After posting our $3200.00 cash bond, and completing the necessary documentation
we went to the Gendarmerie (the law) for check-in, then to the post office to purchase a stamp ($150) for our passports which gives us a maximum stay of 90 days in French Polynesia, then back to the Gendarmerie for final processing (he licks the stamp and places it on the passport). We found that only Americans must undergo this process. Europeans only need to get their passport stamped; they get to stay 6 months and it costs nothing. Go figure! We had somewhat expected this so there were no surprises
and the process was a breeze compared to Mexico. OK, next - where is internet? It is at the post office, which is open until 3:00 PM. We hurried back over there and purchased a 10-hour internet card for $70.00! Yes, that is $7.00 per hour. The card will give us access at the islands with post offices that have wireless. We are so thrilled to have internet that we will gladly pay that. It has been a month since we'd been online so first we took care of business transactions and then looked
at our website, reading the guestbook like two children at Christmas. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to sign it and to post comments to us. It was a real treat reading them. We then went to read our emails - there are quite a few that have come in from the website - but our battery died before we got more than one or two into them. So if you are writing to us and not getting a response, please forgive us, and don't stop writing us because you will never know what your letters, notes,
comments and emails mean to us out here. It is a precious gift to read them. We will get back to it on the next island that has a wireless signal. We ran into Ian and Julia aboard Moasi (from England)at the post office and went with them for lunch at the other restaurant in town. Thank goodness they are fluent in French as well. We had a wonderful time with them, and learned that each morning a woman sells fresh garden vegetables and eggs, from her truck, in town. Tomorrow while we have the
car we will go for fresh groceries and take a trip to see the tikis and the petroglyphs. Still no watermaker by the way…we are taking sponge baths! Every day however, we say, "Thank you, God for the experience of a lifetime!" We do love this life.

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