National Geographic : 1941 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine NUKU-HIVA Houmi AUA-HUKA }-ohad Hakamui UA-PU Hanau Vai'tahL TAHUATA 0 50o . tatutr [fis Ma FAT H opening their rocky gates to disclose their lush beauty. Red rocks shut out the sight of , waving palms, a sunny beach, and the white foam of breakers until the steep mountain wall opened on the next valley. sas Where to land? This was our present prob OUH lem. Luckily a young native lad on board had been born in Fatu-Hiva. He alone knew the place from within, for even our captain had never been there. As the valleys succeeded one another, he described where the natives lived, where drinking water was to be found. And finally, under his guidance, we were in the lifeboat, our hearts hammering with excitement, while natives rowed us toward the island. The .FATU-HUKU roaring breakers rose and burst into snow white foam before they reached the shore. Riding in a furious race on the tumbling NahIVA-OA crest of the green wall of water, we were ana thrown amid dancing foam far up on the soft tuMOTANE black lava sand. Overhead the trade wind '-trtEna ruffled the fringed leaves of coconut palms. -t'una Green hills rose around us. The air was heavy with a haunting, tropical scent. U-HIVA ao kai The natives climbed back into the boat and anavave rowed toward the schooner (page 115). Soon omoa Ou a the white sails of the Tereora melted into the horizon. Setting for a South Sea Honeymoon The author and his bride selected remote Fatu Hiva, southernmost of the Marquesas Islands, for their jungle adventure. This fertile isle, with a romantic and tragic history, lies 850 miles northeast of Tahiti, in the Society Islands. The Marquesas are part of French Oceania, administered by a governor whose headquarters are in Tahiti. The islands lie 4,350 miles southwest of the Panama Canal. so unreal to us. As one sank into the sea, the next arose out of the blue stretches of water. Eventually they all lay behind us, and we were headed for Fatu-Hiva, southern most island of the group (page 110). Isle's Fragrance Wafted Far to Sea Even before we could see its land, we caught the warm and living scent of earth and grow ing things wafted to us over the salt seas. And when we sailed into the shadow of the island, where the blue ocean turned to green like the jungle creeping downward from the hills, we knew we had chosen a land of un surpassed beauty. A warm, sweet air like that from a green house assailed us, and we felt a sudden desire for the shore that we might penetrate into the mysterious forest, be engulfed in the green wilderness, and start a new life in its depths. Slowly the schooner crept along the steep coast, where deep valleys passed in review, We stood alone with our trunks that con tained the clothing we had worn during the voyage, and with nothing else save the ma terials I had brought for scientific research on this little-explored island. A strange feel ing of loneliness assailed us. What to do next? No White Men, No Radio Here There were no white people on the island, no radio or other communication with the outside world, save for the uncertain arrival of the schooner that made its unscheduled visits months apart to pick up copra. We didn't know a word of the native lan guage except kaoha, which means "good day," and panhakanahau, which means "very good." But we could laugh, and that is the main thing in a Polynesian conversation and overhead the giant nuts told us that what ever happened we wouldn't starve. With a mutual impulse we turned to our trunks and began to drag them toward the shade of the trees. We had been landed at Omoa, largest of the island's valleys. Once thousands of natives lived here, building their homes even on the steep mountain sides. Three kings ruled over the island then, and their people were con tinually at war with one another, save when they united to fight a common foe.