With a little persuasion I got Jack to wake early and go to the church service Sunday morning. We’ve been meaning to go for the singing on every island we visited but for one reason or another we missed it. So with time in the Marquesas getting shorter,and the church here one of the largest in the islands, we dinghied in and walked the half hour around the bay to the cathedral.
The building is recent, and incorporates stone from each of the inhabited islands.
The services are Roman Catholic and I could recognize some of the readings even though it was mostly in Marquesan. The singing was lovely and I would post a little video but our bandwidth is way too slow. Even the photos are taking hours to upload.
After church we parked ourselves at Henri’s on the quai and Jack ran back to the boat for our iPads so we could do some internet. While he was gone someone at the table said, “Look! There’s a procession!” And a couple of us grabbed our cameras and ran up to the street to see.
With a combination of asking around and later googling we learned that back in the 1880s Swedish archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe took skulls from burial sites in these islands and others back to Sweden where they were studied for racial characteristics at universities in Stockholm and Uppsala. The Polynesian association Te Tupuna Te Tura petitioned for their return and finally last week a delegation flew to Stockholm to receive them. On this day the skulls were buried in a newly built sarcophagus in a ceremony with much dignity and pride. It was very moving with a lot of speechifying, prayers and singing. We felt privileged to have been there.