Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anticlockwise Tour on Wrong side of the road

I decided to hire a car for two days as one would have meant there was only time for a mad dash south to visit the Paul Gauguin museum.  So on Sunday I ended up walking in the sweltering heat with two small backpacks all the way to the Airport and the Europcar Depot as there were no public bus services, something that became obvious to me after a long wait at a Bus Stop. (It was interesting at the Bus Stop because there were 4 men there, initially I thought to be waiting for a bus but I realized soon enough one of them had set up a little stall - but all 4 were engaged in a very lively debate about something deeply Theological, each at various times rummaging about in their Bibles for verses which they then quoted at the others with an air of triumph and a satisfied smile - only then to start another round of rummaging and quoting from the others! - it was all in French so I didn't know what it was they were talking about but the guy next to me was reading from Ezekiel ) Anyhow, I decided to also book some accommodation down that way and stay a night then return at a more leisurely pace. The Europcar lady was really helpful and rang around and found me a place at Pueu Village so off I went, - driving on the right hand side of the road - heading down the western coast. The Paul Gauguin Museum was interesting, - no original works of course - and all the displays fading and dusty. The road followed the coastline and I stopped at several places where there was public access to the beach - and there, people were having picnics in the sgadde and some were swimming or boogy board riding, and at one place there were a few surfers as well. The beaches were quite exposed and windy.

Looking back at Tahiti Iti and Pueu
So I proceeded to Pueu ( Poo-air -oo ) If you look at a map of Tahiti you will see it is almost two separate islands, the northern and largest, almost circular, Tahiti Nui is joined to its southern partner Tahiti Iti - shaped like a tear drop- by a narrow isthmus. Pueu is on the eastern coastline of Tahit Iti and this part of Tahiti is quite wonderful. It is much less densely inhabited, hardly built up, overwhelmingly Polynesian, and of course wonderfully tropical, fragrant and lush with only a very narrow coastal rim that isn't densely covered in bush and precipitously steep and rugged. If I were to settle in Tahiti, this is where I would want to be - it has a much more natural and Polynesian and unaffected feel to it.

My accommodation was a bungalow by the beach - coral with colourful fish swimming through it was literally 50 feet from where I would sit, in the Bungalow overlooking the lagoon but well shaded by coconut and other trees. Victor, the owner, a lovely Tahitian man in his late 60's had asked me where I was from, shortly after arrival and after telling him he lifted up his Hawaiian style shirt and showed me the thick scar running down the centre of his chest - a surgical scar from heart surgery he had in Auckland a year or two ago - so he was very fond of NZ! There were no other guests - there's only 4 bungalows - and that night Victor and his wife invited me to have dinner with them.Their home was like a large shed only metres from the lagoon, open on the side facing the sea except for a wide verandah which includes the space where his 4WD is kept. We had a lovely meal on that verandah by the 4WD of fish, rice and salad , carrots and potato. Their daughter and her son were also there.

Such delightful people
The next morning yesterday - I packed all my stuff, and was about to load up the car when I thought - what am I leaving for? It is wonderful here, relaxing, quiet, friendly… I went to ask Victor if I cold stay a second night - and of course he said yes, and at a reduced rate, and come for dinner again tonight at half past 6! His wife called out that she would make Poisson Cru, just for me! So I stayed, only driving to the nearest town for supplies and to visit the ATM , and walking the local roads but mostly I sat outside my Bungalow near the water reading "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens - trying to remedy some of the many deficiencies in my woefully inadequate "education" .And we had another wonderful dinner together with much laughing and joking. We drank nice French red wine that I had bought.
The waters Edge at the Bungalows

This morning they insisted I have breakfast with them - exquisite papaya, bread and coffee - but I had to get going at 8 to give me time to do a little sight seeing on the way back. And so I continued the anticlockwise Tour of Tahiti, stopping to marvel at the coastline on the eastern side where there appears to be a greater rainfall and less habitation - like the West Coast in NZ, the prevailing wind comes up against high mountains and drops its rain.

 There were numerous impressively deeply gouged out ravines clad in dense bush, and then as the road wound round to the northern end, return of sunshine and blue sky, and ultimately the City again. I stopped at Venus Point, named and made famous by Captain Cook, and returned the car, unscratched, at 11.30. I walked back to the Marina but called in at couple of little supermarkets on the way, just to be cooled by their Air Con. I already had water so I didn't buy anything!

Point Venus ( The Tower went up a century aftrer Cook was there)
Va'a Storage
I rang the sailmaker. It might be ready by Friday so I will give him a ring but he warned me it was more likely to be ready Monday or Tuesday which seems like forever away. And, as I had been expecting, given that EVERYONE warned me how expensive things would be in Tahiti - his quote was hellishly expensive! Such is the capitalist way when you have a Monopoly! I daresay he's used to Superyacht jobs and isn't really interested in my tiny problem.
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