One of the major attractions of anchoring at Hanavave rather than the other village of Omoa (where the gendarmerie is, so probably best avoided if you haven’t got the right paperwork!), is the waterfall, about an hour and a half track from the village.
We walked through the town, greeted by every passer by and replying in kind. It was a touch surreal to be on such a hike barely an hour after anchoring, after a three week ocean crossing, but the children were bouncing around, thrilled to be reunited with their friends Hayley and Megan from RAFTKIN, while Francis was enjoyed lapsing into French with Anne from LE RAYON VERT, who was instructing him in the art of mango-gathering. Now, in French Polynesia, the children were in their element, able to chat to the local kids we met along the way, united in their endeavour to ferret out the fruit by, and in, the rivers we crossed.
We followed the road out of town for a good half an hour at least, until we found a 26 painted on the road, and a pyramid of carefully stacked stones, our indication that we should take a path forking off to the left. Eventually the track disappeared and we then scrambled up a very narrow path up through rain forest for another half hour. Just as I was beginning to lose faith that we were on the right track, shouts from the older kids racing ahead indicated we were nearly there and our route opened out onto boulders that led into a freshwater pool being fed by a waterfall 100 metres high. We were in with a splash, making straight for a freshwater shower, while Catherine, googles and flotation vest on, face down, was happy just bobbing along, spread-eagled like a starfish.
Opposite the waterfall was a giant rock, an open invitation to climb up and jump off, for the more nimble mountain goats in our party. Xav was immediately back home in the Swiss mountains of his childhood. I tried a couple of times and managed half-way, before my arms and legs began to buckle and I gave up. But watching Francis conquer his nerves and keep going, knowing what it took for him, inspired me to try, try again. This was our first day in a new world, and that leap from the top into the unknown, embraced it body and soul.