Postcard from Taiohae, Nuku Hiva

I woke up before dawn from well after a slightly jet lagged night's sleep, first night in Polynesia  - and wandered off to a little hill just as the sun light was beginning to shine on the rim on the volcano crater in which Taiohae is situated. I think the unwinding is getting to be reasonably successful as I just sat there for an hour or more watching the line between shadow and sunlight creep down the 1000m or so of the crater side.

At breakfast in the hotel, it was arranged that I would share boat transport to the valley of the Vaimato waterfall tomorrow with the French couple who have today hired a 4 wheel drive car to drive round the island. Don't want to do that myself: too costly and too risky on the isolated rough roads.

Then I continued wandering around Taiohae, it's a favoured spot protected from the worst of the cyclones and the tsunamis. Seems to have enough water.

My first impression of Nuku Hiva, this island, when it came in to view from the plane, was that there was a drought. This continued as the hotels taxi drove four of us new arrivals over the spectacular route from the airport which is on the far side of the island to Taiohae. (I didn't expect to pass through a forest of tree ferns on this trip: some are more than 5 metres high.)

Wandering out of the village I found a footpath going up in to the trees surrounding Taiohae. The forest looks silver grey from a distance, not green which I confused with drought. Close up, the forest looks to be Acacia trees with their characteristic tiny leaves, evidently they get so much light they only need tiny leaves.

There track was well made with steps, bridges and hand rails and led to one of the bumps at the entry to the Taiohae bay. Clearly it's a kids and lovers' place with lots of lewd graffiti on a wooden shelter adjoining a fire circle. I passed a happy hour and a half watching the scene, not that much changed in that time, and then made my way back through the forest of silver bark trees.

The restaurant in this pension is not open on Sunday... which I didn't know in advance. Typically French... The hotel is fine, run by the family of a French settler who has married a local. There was some rowdiness at midnight on Saturday night, which he said was the militaires from the French navy ship at anchor in the bay.  It's clean and the plumbing works (except that the water has been off overnight but that's not their fault) and after a scare last night I haven't needed to use it more than usual.

The Sunday evening meal facility next to the supermarket turned out to be a barbecue and a van; lots of locals there so I didn't have too much doubt about the safety.

Awoken from by light intermittent sleep by the crash of a coconut falling on to the steel roof in front of the balcony... hopefully for today's boat trip to the valley of the Vaimato waterfall.