What happens when an agnostic an atheist and a Jew go to church? They get the time wrong and miss mass…
Our group of five puddle jumping boats set off this morning with the plan of going to mass and hearing the wonderful Polynesian harmonies that the congregation here is known for, but we arrived about 10 minutes after the service ended. Which meant it was time for a plan ‘b’.
|cultural tradition is alive and well here--Marquesan man on the streets of Taiohae|
The Marquesas is thought to be one of the first island groups that were colonized during the Pacific Migration. Estimates vary—but the consensus seems to be it was first settled sometime from 300-600 AD by a people who grew into one of the more unique cultures in Polynesia. They also built a whole bunch of stone stuff—tikis (sacred statues), wide tohuas (meeting places), pae pae (house foundations) and various pits and platforms. All which are found in the jungles throughout the islands.
We decided to visit a waterfront site—which turned out to be built in 1989—so then we opted to head to a second site that is found deeper in the mountains behind town.
‘Tohua Kouvea was a communal gathering place that once belonged to the great war chief, Pakoko’, Barb from WGD read as we meandered out of town. Along the way we were each distracted by different things: fruit, flowers, roadside pigs and the like, and after what seemed like a very long time we found ourselves at a lovely viewpoint high above the boats, but without a tiki in sight.
I told Barb that I thought we might have missed some detail in the directions she had. So we read back through and caught the bit about needing to leave the main road after 1km. So we back-tracked and eventually asked a man on a horse for help. Technically a group of people who got themselves across an ocean should be able to find ruins they have directions for (and get to church on time) but we were all pleased with our guide. And Roo Touhine led us deeper into the jungle with calls of encouragement spoken in Marquesan.
Eventually we arrived at a long stone wall and Roo pointed our way in. As I wandered and explored I tried to imagine the culture that inhabited this peaceful space. With its soaring Banyon trees and wide lawns it had a mystical feel. Too soon though our water ran out and the bugs overwhelmed us. So we started back--tired, hungry and thirsty but well pleased with ourselves.
Along the way we foraged—finding tart/sweet starfruit to keep us going. Then we encountered Roo collecting his own fruit. He served us pamplemouse—then he gave us a huge stalk of bananas to share.
I’m not sure if there is a point to this story—but I can say being late for church and then getting lost on a hike with a group of sailors who just crossed the South Pacific was a pleasant thing. Perhaps a journey like ours gives perspective. Our maybe we’re all just so grateful to be here that going astray in a steamy jungle, with no food, and limited water while dressed in our Sunday best simply doesn't make the cut for stuff to worry about.