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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Today we were scheduled to take a five-hour tour of the island of Tahiti. After yesterday's fabulous weather, we should have known that it would rain all day today. No matter. It is better to get wet while touring than to sit sullenly in a wet boat all day and accomplish nothing.
One of our first stops was the Venus Lighthouse where James Cook studied the movements of the planet Venus at the behest of the Royal Geographic Society. He named Tahiti and its island the Society Islands in their honour.
In the grounds of the lighthouse there are monuments to the missionaries who came to these islands and converted the local tribes to Christianity. The map in the walls surrounding the monument is made up of stones imported from each of the islands represented.
Another monument commemorates the arrival of both Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian in Tahiti. This is where the Mutiny on the Bounty took place and where the book was written. Bligh was an extremely adept mariner who managed to navigate with his faithful crew all the way through the islands- including the cannibalistic Tongan islands for hundreds of miles in a small rowboat.
I must say that our walking tours of the waterfall and the water bores were inertesting but more like running tours as we all tried to satisfy our curiosity and stay dry at the same time. No wonder these islands are so lush! Every plant we have seen is healthy beyond belief. But with the torrential amounts of rain they receive, they are well hydrated.
Magnificent waterfalls abound.
We were all ready for lunch at the Gauguin Restaurant overlooking Tahitiiti (meaning simply "small Tahiti"). The buffet was pricey but absolutely delicious and plentiful. The sun came out long enough for us to admire the owner's ponds of jacks and surgeon fishes. Apparently they are all huge pets and are not served on the menu. Security guards mind the ponds while the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Gauguin Restaurant and fish pools
Next stop was the Gauguin Museum. I wish we had had more time to visit this wonderful display of Paul Gauguin's life and the art work he produced depicting the beauty of the French Polynesians. We were only allowed 40 minutes and spent most of that time in one building, only to discover that we still had two more buildings and 8 minutes left! If you visit Tahiti, this is definitely a "must-see".
Paul Gauguin Museum
One of our favourite stops was to see some grottos. The gardens were magnificent.
Our last stop of the day was at a lovely marae or ancient worship centre. Apparently this was the site of a recent Miss Tahiti pageant.