We woke up early again, and finally had some land in sight - lots of it actually. We had "Sheep Island" (Mohotani) on the starboard, Tahuata on the port, and Hiva Oa in front of us. It was tough to look away from the scenery, but we had to eat at some point, so we waited until we heard the anchor dropping, knowing the view was not going to materially change at that point. After breakfast, we gathered our gear and then went down to board the tender, but had to wait because the crew was trying to get the timing right because of the waves. It took a while to board because the tender was floating up and down relative to the cruise ship, and also drifting away. Once everyone got on board, though, it was a short uneventful ride across to the pier. Disembarkation was interesting, however, as we had to crawl out of the front of the tender, through a big window, to get onto the pier.

On the pier we met Feli, the lady that we booked our tour through, and she introduced us to our English speaking Marquesan guide - Brian O'Connor. Brian's family goes back several generations on Hiva Oa, and while there was originally a distant relative named O'Connor from Ireland, the rest of Brian's bloodline is entirely Marquesan, so he had dark features, dark hair, and was at least Justin's height but much sturdier. Biran, who goes by Bligh, told us he had gone to three years of school to learn English in Hawaii, and was one of the few fluent English speakers on Hiva Oa.

The first stop of the day was at the paepae platforms in Ta'aoa valley. Bligh told us that the ancient village was 7 hectares in size, only 1 of which has been cleared of vegetation. He took us in through the "official" entrance, i.e., the place people would have entered back in the day, and let us know that back then there would have been 1-2 warriors out front as a bouncer of sorts. Inside there were different seating areas, such as for invited tribes and for the high priest and his assistant. The high priest had a curved stone seat - Crystal said it was comfy - and people making offerings would make them to the assistant, who then would vet them and provide the appropriate ones to the priest. Bligh also showed us a big circle that was the spot for the giant drum that would be played - apparently they were 10 feet tall. There was also a spot for the "maestro" that would give instructions to all of the musicians and dancers. All of the above listed items were on the same level in the "main room" and then above that there was seating for people to watch. Seating was separated out for the home tribe, invited tribes, the top warrior in the home tribe, and so on. Also on that level there was a prison of sorts - a hole that would get covered by a giant rock. Bligh explained a bit about cannibalism on the island. While there were sacrifices and human consumption, it wasn't for nourishment, but rather to take the mana of the person being consumed - i.e., to transfer the power and knowledge of the departed into the person consuming him.

We drove back through Atuona, then headed up into the hills towards the airport. As we got higher on the hillside, we started to recognize a number of the plants. For one, the ground was covered with Unehe ferns, which in Hawaii is called Uluhe. Additionally, Hiva Oa had the same invasive plants as well, as there were Falcataria moluccana ("Albizia") trees everywhere, plus some Spathodea campanulata. We told Bligh we recognized all this stuff and that it reminded us of home, and he indicated there were a ton of shared items between the Marquesas and Hawaii. In addition to Unuhe and Uluhe sounding almost the same, the Marquesan phrases for Mauka and Makai (towards the mountains or towards the ocean) are Mauta and Matai. Seemingly every car that we passed had a cousin or an uncle or other relative of Bligh. This made a ton of sense when he explained that his grandmother had 20 children and his grandmother's sister had "only" 18 - of course you're going to have a ton of cousins.

We came around one corner and saw a wild cow that Brian had caught a few days earlier. He was holding it in the hopes of attracting its calf, so that he could raise the calf domestically. The mother cow, since she was wild, was unlikely to ever be trained to be domestic. We got back in the car and around the next bend there was another wild cow, this one with a brand new calf. Bligh told us he'd seen that cow the day before and there was no calf, so the calf must have been born in the last day. We started descending through one of the valleys on the north side of the island (Hanaiapa? Hanapaoa?), with sweeping views towards the ocean. On the way down we stopped at one of Bligh's relative's homes to pick some grapefruit. While there he saw his Uncle around a pig trap, so we went over there. They had caught a pig, and were trying to get it out of the trap. Bligh told us there are more than enough pigs and goats to keep everyone well fed, let alone all the fish and the fruit growing on the island. We stopped at a lookout on the way down and had some of the grapefruit we'd just picked; Bligh apologized for it being so sour, but it tasted sweeter than just about any grapefruit we'd ever eaten.

Once we'd descended onto the north side, we went from valley to valley, up and over all of the ridges. Many of the valleys belonged to Bligh's family, such as his father and his grandfather among others. The roads were pretty bumpy, as the road stopped being paved around the top of the island, so the roads on the north side were graded dirt. About 5-6 valleys over towards the east we finally arrived in Puamau, where it was lunch time. We had a feast at Chez Marie-Antoninette, who has cornered the market on providing lunch to day trippers who've come over to visit Puamau. We had some pork that had been marinated in soy sauce and onions, some goat that had been marinated with onions and coconut, some sort of poke-type fish dish, rice, breadfruit fries, banana, and starfruit juice. It was all excellent, and the breadfruit fries tasted almost identical to potato wedge fries. We all had seconds and thirds, but still couldn't finish all the food.

After lunch, it was only a minute or two to get to the Puamau site. Bligh explained that people were not keeping the site properly maintained, so a local lady had just taken it upon herself to maintain the site, in exchange for donations from visitors - our donation was included in the price of our trip. Puamau is famous for having the largest tiki in all of French Polynesia (Rapa Nui's are by far the largest in Polynesia generally), as well as multiple other large tikis and a large fertility statue (thankfully Crystal avoided touching it). One of the tikis was missing its head, and Bligh indicated that the head is sitting in a museum in London. As with many of the places around the world, the Marquesas are trying to get their artifacts back from the western nations that took them.

On the drive back, we stopped at one of Bligh's relative's homes (not the same one as in the morning). They had some dried banana, banana vinegar, and some dried limes that were about the most sour things we've ever tasted. We were walking around the yard and then came around a corner to a surprise - the trapped pig we'd seen earlier in the day was having its hair removed by two of Bligh's relatives. We figure this was not something that others on the ship got to experience on their tours. The trip had lots of driving, but Bligh filled the time with stories of his youth, the local culture, and the island's history. He told us that when he was young, he basically had free run of entire entire valleys, and would run up and over steep valleys to go from his father's house to his grandfather's house. He also got chased by wild boars through the jungle when he was 5 years old, went on hunts when he was about that old - it's kind of amazing he doesn't have 50 broken bones by now. Bligh really brought home that Hiva Oa is the land of plenty, with as many pigs, goats, cows, fish and fruit as anyone could eat.

We headed back to Atuona the way we came, then went past the pier to Calvary Cemetery, where Paul Gauguin (French Artist) and Jacques Brel (French Singer) are both buried. Gauguin lived his final few years on Hiva Oa, and if we were French or lived in France - or just been bigger art fans - this probably would have been a bigger deal. Bligh commented that he'd met several people who had traveled to Hiva Oa simply to see Gauguin's grave, but he couldn't understand it. We couldn't understand it either, as the grave was very simple. The cemetery itself had a decent view of the bay below. We got back to the pier just before 4pm, and took the 4:00 tender back to the ship. On the ship with us were several drummers and performers for a show on the boat at 4:30, so once we got back on the ship we dropped our gear and then headed down to the Grand Salon to watch the show. There were male and female performers, with the males doing several haka dances and the females being more of a supporting role, doing a little dancing and some backup singing. It seemed the opposite of Hawaii, where the women seem to be the main performers. The haka dance looks like quite a workout to us.

After the show, we went up to the top deck to check out the sunset. There wasn't much of a sunset, but there was a cool King Kong vibe from the clouds on the mountain tops. We realized there was an additional staircase we didn't know about - one that would help a lot when going to La Palette at the back of the ship. Thankfully we found it before it got too much later in the trip. After sunset, we got cleaned up for the evening, then went back up to La Palette, where we spoke with a lady from Tahiti, Hinanui. There was a band playing, and one of the passengers got up and sang with the band - she was an incredible singer. It was a good thing she hadn't been at karaoke, as she would have put the group of us to shame. We had dinner at Le Grille, which was quieter than the other two restaurants, but with a much less robust menu. After dinner we went to the piano bar to look at photos and videos from the day. It had been a long day with a fair amount of sun, so we went to bed around 10pm.