Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

These nearly psychedelic pink flowers outside Hiva Oa’s
Gaugin museum in Atuona are fragrance free.

It’s not surprising “Tahia, the Fragrant Girl” is the Marquesas story featured in “Pacific Island Legends:  Tales from Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia.”   Hiva Oa French Marquesas smells better than anyplace else on I’ve traveled to date. 

Also outside Hiva Oa’s Gaugin museum, these fragrance-free flowers
reminded me of coral.

Considering that sailing alone in the last 3 years, we’ve covered over 6,000 miles to date, with other travels taking me throughout North America, to Central America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, that’s saying a lot for Hiva Oa on sniffer satisfaction. 

The kind woman in Hiva Oa’s Gaugin museum
gave me the seeds to these indigo beauties.

Truth be told, a keen nose is far more often a curse than a blessing, as ‘tis seems far more scents in the world a malodorous rather than pleasant.

Don’t let tiare’s modest appearance fool you –
this tiny gardenia’s fragrance is heavenly!

Classic American writer E.M. Forester, not known for his good hygiene habits, felt compelled to correct a train passenger.  “You smell!” she complained in dismay to Mr. Forester.  “No, Madam,” he responded, unerringly.  “You smell.  I stink.”

Heck, there are only a few stinky scents I’ve detected since arriving in Hiva Oa:

1.    Domestic livestock (cows, horses, pigs and their ecosystems)
2.    Dead fish (one was left rotting aside Tahauku Bay outrigger and dinghy boat ramp)
3.    Cruisers (embarrassingly, myself included, periodically)

Another delightfully scented Hiva Oa island flower.
We came across it hiking.

For those of us with keen noses, we know the vast majority of scents are not pleasant. Thus, Hiva Oa is the place my nostrils believe they’ve died and gone to heaven.

These electric Christmas-colored beauties
were tucked behind a section
too muddy to sniff out.  I suspect their color
was their draw; that they were unscented. 

Tiare, French Polynesia’s national flower, a small gardenia that pack a big perfume-y wallop, grows prolificly on Hiva Oa.  It’s the primary flower used in leis for its welcoming island fragrance; the cruise-supply ship Ara Nui’s lobby and several Marquesas churches we entered were anointed with tiare leis and bouquets.

While many Hiva Oa flowers we encountered were not scented, their colors, shapes and foliage were dazzling.
I’ve heard scent memories are deeply seated in the primitive limbic part of our brains, and their recognition lingers long.  I certainly hope that’s true for me, as well as the many other associated sensory delights of these scent-sational Marquesas wonders. 
Vibrant red, these petals appeared almost
waxy.The blossom cones were hefty, about
nine inches from base to tip.  One decapitated
blossom was effectively used
as a trail marker!
Fragrant plumeria – also known as frapangi – blooming in Hiva Oa’s Atuona.   These were
also blooming everywhere in Hawaii
when we honeymooned there, though
in Polynesia they are used in funerals and
thus associated with death.

These fuzzy floral wonders growing along Atuona’s roadside
reminded me of pipe cleaners.
Starry little yellow flower clusters with dense
vine-y foliage, their appearance was popular
in established Hiva Oa gardens.

These hibiscus-like blossoms came from trees, not hibiscus shrubs.
These were on the rock at the dinghy / outrigger canoe ramp

at Hiva Oa’s Tahauku Bay.

Location Location

These photos were taken on our many walks when we were anchored at Hiva Oa’s Tahauku Bay anchorage (S9.48.260 W139.01.924) – our first stop in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.   We are currently on our fourth Marquesas island stop, Ua Poa (S9.21.537 W140.02.867).  In between we went to Fatu Hiva and Tuahata; Nuku Hiva will be the next and last island we stop at in the Marquesas, before moving onto the Tuomotos, which are still part of French Polynesia.   

If you like these images, watch for upcoming blog post on the flowers and fecund foliage from our 17 km Fatu Hiva Marquesas hike.
Hibiscus in Hiva Oa were as common as dandelions in an unmown 
North American lawn.  This lovely pair was on the overlook
between Tahauku Bay anchorage and Atuona.