Thursday – it’s definitely Thursday – Tahiti, French Polynesia
The announcement came through at almost exactly 7.30 am that we have been given clearance to go ashore. Really? Why? NOTHING will be open. The taxi drivers will be barely conscious and hardly civil. There will be nothing to see and nothing to do. This is FRANCE, people. Nothing starts till 11! Stay in bed a while longer and adjust to YET ANOTHER bloody time zone jump. We are now at GMT -10, and frankly, I’m beyond discombobulated now. I have no clue about anything any more. I need to start writing my name in my clothes in case I forget.
Got off about 10.30 ish and began the negotiations with the taxi drivers. The one at the front of the line really did not seem interested in taking us on a one-hour tour. Apparently, they think it takes four hours to see their island. And he had absolutely no intention of speaking any English to us. Why would we want a tour guide we could not communicate with?! (He didn’t know I speak French, and I decided that he didn’t need to know). But then a lady stepped in and offered to take us. She spoke perfect English and was very pleasant, so we went with her. Turned out she was a taxi driver and so we went down the line to her van. She then moved the barriers so we could drive away without waiting for grumpy git at the front of a line to get a job (or a personality). He must have done, because when we got back, he was gone. Although maybe he just gave up and went home. When I said the taxi drivers would be grumpy and unobliging, I didn’t think it would be quite so prescient.
She drove us to Venus Point, where James Cook landed to watch the transit of Venus. They say that he did, but I am pretty sure he didn’t, and he had to come back twice more to get the data he needed. There are three monuments at Point Venus – one to the Bounty (as in Mutiny on the), one to Cook and one to the first Christian missionaries to land here. There is also a square lighthouse, designed by Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived and wrote here. It is the only lighthouse on the island, and they still light it, although they now have great big metal beacons marking the shallows.
Emily, our driver, told us all about the corruption in Tahiti and the various court cases against the former President (24!). She also told us about the people of the islands and the local flora and fauna. The island is 55% Catholic, 30% Protestant. There are also Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are, apparently, no Muslims here.
Then we returned to Papeete to find some lunch. At this point, the heavens opened. It wasn’t cold – this is the Tropics, remember – so we just waited it out and then walked to a nearby shopping centre, which had a café called Retro on the ground floor. Mum and dad had burgers and I had steak and chips. People, I’m in France. This could be my last chance at a decent steak for the foreseeable future. It was so good, I almost wept. The only other item on the menu was tuna, done about eight different ways. They REALLY eat a lot of tuna here.
Afterwards, I went for a wander and did some shopping, while mum and dad went back to the ship. The humidity was ridiculous, after the rain storm, and they found it quite tiring. I returned to the ship with my purchases about an hour later, and we all went up on deck to gaze out at the town one more time before dinner. I did 20 lengths, but I would regret that for the rest of the night. Ow. I’m pretty certain there is some leg cramp in my immediate future…
Then dinner and an early night. Bora Bora tomorrow. Need to recharge the laptop, the phone, the camera, and me.
UPDATE: no leg cramp! I survived! Tonic water is marvellous stuff.