Saturday, 12 October 2013
Getting to Nuku Hiva airport
The drive to the Nuku Hiva airport would have to be exposing one of the top 10 natural wonders of the world. Amazing. The variety of terrains from mountains to deserts was awesome (the desert surrounding the airport consists of rolling hills with comparatively low vegetation but it does not meet my childlike definition of a desert which ought to be rolling hills of sand – yes I know we have stony and other styles of deserts on Oz and around the world, but no way did this meet my feeling of desert). At various times the sea could be seen, from our great heights, on all sides. The driver, driving at 20-40km per hour, negotiated continuously curving road, which had more switchbacks than curves (and for the first time in 2 weeks after endless tortuous roads with steep drop-offs and lots of landslide mud and rocks everywhere, I had a functioning seat belt – yes my Ozzie conditioning has been hard to break. Law here says only belts in the front seats need to be worn and only in the towns and villages; still often they didn’t work and were draped over to save the Gendarmes the work of pulling you over and having all that paperwork for your misdemeanour of not wearing a belt). Until we reached the northern ‘desert’, there was never more than a 200m straight section of road, and through the desert one of the few straights could be as long as 400m – and this was during an over a 1 ½ hr trip from the town of TaiOHae. Fanbloodytastic. Exhilarating. I will always remember the endless wild horses and their foals standing in the middle of the road or eating on the verges, and others with their winter coats scruffily moulting off. Massive beef cows in black and white and red and white meandering similarly. Amazing panoramas. Exposed valley based tree ferns thinner than ours, and with a bulbous growth at the top of the trunk before the fronds pushed out on some. Sky blue and some white clouds. Stunning at every turn. Feel that every ‘grotty yachtie’ (phrase from a German couple of sailors) should take the trip even though they must return to sail. The last drive really has been the final wonder in these fabulous islands. Great relaxant and stimulator simultaneously. And it will give me memories to last me the next 13 plus hours of flying (albeit with breaks at Tahiti, Auckland and Melbourne where I will have a chance to walk around a little). And now my plane has arrived at Nuku Hiva, so I will be boarding soon to start the next step of my journey.