July 20 - Walking with the elders - a hike to the waterfall

We left early to make the high tide into the river and tied our dinghy to a boat owned by a local Marquesan named Ma'i, who lives on the waterfront in the small cove called Hakaui Bay adjacent to and west of Hakatea (also known as Daniel's) Bay. We had picked up Rich and Jan of sv Slip Away and hiked the several kilometers in beautiful forest to Vaipo waterfall, allegedly the third highest waterfall in the world. There was a pool at the bottom of it, and the water was, as expected, c-o-l-d. Sue, Rich and Jan climbed just a bit more to the cavern by the falls, which was a small trickle of its powerful state. We watched the tropic birds in their graceful flight land in the outcroppings of the towering walls above us. After eating lunch, we slowly made our way back thru the woods. Rock cairns marked the path, which went thru ancient areas of rock structures that we think represented building sites. Stone tohua (meeting places), me'ae (Marquesan equivalent of marae, where religious ceremonies were performed), pae pae (stone platforms that were used as foundations for ancient Marquesan houses), and ti'i(known elsewhere as tiki).Passion fruit, mango and noni fruits littered the path, while the biggest danger was falling coconuts (seriously). M walked point and stayed ahead of the rest of us, talking to the rocks and trees, and paying his respects to all the Native elders who went before us and requesting safe passage thru their lands.

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