We met Atea on the dock just before 9am, and piled into the back of his truck so he could take us to the road where our hike began. The morning was beautiful and clear, the air so clean, and the sun already spreading its warmth quite intensely.
Atea dropped us off at the edge of the village and showed us with hand signals and broken English mixed with French, which direction to go. Our backpacks were slightly weighed down with water bottles, pampelmouss and cameras, and we excitedly set off on our adventure.
Coconut palms and banana, breadfruit and lemon trees grew thick along the sides of the trail, and the ground was really muddy in areas from all the rains. After about a mile we veered off through the foliage down a smaller trail and crossed over a small stream.
Aidan had so much fun jumping from boulder to boulder as we worked our way deeper into the jungle.
Birds called throughout the trees, tiny lizards hurried away from our approaching footsteps, and the sound of insects and water filled the humid air. Mosquitoes feasted on us as we dripped with sweat from climbing up and down in elevation in the heat – only ever so slightly cooling in the shaded areas.
Many coconuts lay on the ground, and from several of them, new palms were already beginning to grow.
The morning light glowed as it passed through ferns,
and lichen and moss grew on every possible surface like a spreading plague.
Eventually we rounded a corner where deeper water had collected, forming beautiful inviting pools of blue.
The sound of rushing water kept us moving just a little further, and not far beyond was what we had been searching for…Vaieya Falls. We immersed our hot, sweaty, mosquito bitten bodies in the cool water and it felt so good!
What a beautiful, refreshing gift in the middle of the jungle, in the middle of a little island, in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean!
After we relaxed and cooled off for a while, Kjira felt something move over her toes, and we figured there must be crayfish living among the rocks. Once I got goosebumps from the cold, I dried off and explored the surrounding area. I love to see how things grow in interesting places, like tree seedlings on a fallen truck way up high,
or roots down the sides of a rock mountain.
So much new growth among such abundant life – an endless cycle of living and green and growing.
We walked back along the trail we had come in on, feeling refreshed and ready for what lay ahead. Spectacular views of mountains, trees and water, led us all the way back to the village, and along the way a truck pulled up with a German man in it. He introduced himself as Manfield, and said he has a house in the village we should come to where he sells chocolate. Up higher in the mountains he has many Cacao trees and makes 100% pure chocolate to sell around the islands.
We walked through the village and back up on the other side where the mountain began to climb once again, passing a beautiful church,
and a field of taro.
Manfred told us to walk until we passed a large rock, then take a left into his driveway – which we did, and he met us with a big smile. We sat on his covered back porch where we had a beautiful view of our home in the bay, and he talked and talked and talked.
A very interesting character who spoke about times in East and West Germany, of moving several times and ending up in Ua Pou. Of being a massage therapist and sleeping with many of the women he massaged. He spoke of the many wives he’d had – sometimes more than one at a a time, which he believes is a smart thing for a man to do because women offer him so much inspiration. The wives didn’t know about each other of course and were in different countries and islands, but he was now a single man. He showed us books and video of clearing his land and growing cacao.
It began raining hard, and since the salon hatches were open on the boat, we finally politely broke free of his endless dialogue and made our way home. Exhausted yet feeling so good.
To be continued…..(with the sketchy wifi we currently have I can’t write too long of a blog at a time!)