Thursday, July 21, 2011

Daniel's Bay - Entering Wonderland

So we motor sailed to Daniel's Bay on Nuka Hiva a few days ago, in part to get water, and in part because we wanted to see the famous waterfall. It was a rough passage - though short. As we came into the bay cliffs rose up a thousand feet around us. Nearly vertical, they are of astounding beauty. Going ashore we found a nice white sand beach with coral heads right up to the surf line. A few horses wandered grazing the short grass. A few shacks lay off to the right under the canopy of coconut palms. But the house with water that was there only a couple of years ago was completely gone. Turns out the tsunami that hit Chile a few years ago also hit this bay. No water to be had here. Oh well.
Yesterday, while the winds howled out in the ocean a few miles away, we hiked as a family around three or four miles each way to the base of the world's third highest waterfall. It was magical. We had to wade rivers, and pass through a small village. And then for a mile we walked down a road that cut through a Garden of Eden. Coconut palms, hibiscus, yams, cassava, papalamous, lemons, papaya, mango, star fruit - and many fruits we couldn't identify. On the ground there grew squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Through it all, horses grazed the grass short and would walk right up to us with no concern.
As we began to climb, the valley walls closed in. It felt like a fantastic scene out of a King Kong movie. Crossing more steams, slogging along muddy trails, and finally our first views of the falls - fantastically high. Higher still, and lots of dark bare rock boulders covered in moss and then stone walls - ancient and over grown. Becoming more complex the higher we climbed these stone walls, bridges, roads, cisterns, and platforms all run riot with strangler figs, and buttressed trees spoke of a flourishing cultural center high up this valley - but long ago.
We reached the river near the base of the falls late in the afternoon. The kids hungry and tired. The falls were amazing. To get closer on crossed another river and then enters a land of perpetual mist, where the falls itself are hidden. We stopped at the river, eating sausage, drinking coconut milk, and throwing bit of meat to these amazing fresh water eels that lay in the river. About two to three feet long they are camouflaged so well, that we at first took them for submerged sticks. Griffyn first saw one move, and with a gleeful shriek yelled, "The eels! The eels! They're here!"
The hike down was long, through fading light, but still amazingly beautiful. We got back to the boat at dark, and had spaghetti and salad, while we watched The Great Escape. All in all, a good day. Tomorrow we leave in search of water - perhaps to Controller Bay. After getting water we'll head to Anaho Bay in the north.
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