Tahiti by Hire Car
Three of Us in a Tiny Fiat Drive Around Tahiti
Up and ready for high adventure by seven. First though, Bear nipped round to Millenium to return a hard-drive - more music for our ITunes collection, Thank You John, see you in Taina on Friday. Then Dave, Bear and I bimbled up to the Avis office to pick up our little hire car for a day of exploring and to attend - the first time for any of us – a surfing competition at the bottom of Little Tahiti. Our first stop was at a lookout position where locals and tourists alike stop to take pictures of aircraft taking off and landing (at different times Pete. Well done so far on the Indonesian Rally, fingers remain crossed for Troutbridge and Malaysia). Our second stop was to have a bimble around the Marina at Taina, just fives miles away and where we are moving, later than planned, but that’s the way it is with us, to check out the fuel dock, anchoring opportunities and available mooring balls. Bear trotted up to the office and had a massive grin as he reported two days free.
The mooring field was big but so was the marina, with many big, posh girls.
Dave said he was hungry so our next port of call was to a very smart snack shack. Bear asked for a chicken roll, I couldn’t believe how many chips were squadged in before the pile of meat was added to this food event. I wonder who brought the chip butty to Tahiti. Dave matched Bear with a similar goliath, I had two chicken wings in batter. Fortified, it was time to get down to the serious business of being tourists. Next stop the Museum of Culture (own blog).
Marae Maraeta’ata, sadly the sun was so fierce (even I was grateful for air-con in our little car), coupled with a bonfire next door, means these pictures are not up to much). In Polynesia, the marae was an open-air place intended for community meeting, built using foundation stones.
In the Society Islands, the marae had a social and religious function to strengthen the cohesion of the family group who built, maintained and used them. They showed a genealogical affiliation of each individual to a family, a lineage that in some cases could be traced back to the gods, to a tribe and a rank defined in the social hierarchy. Marae hallowed each individuals right to control and own their lands.
Marae were also sacred places, a place to worship where priests kept symbolic representations of gods and performed religious ceremonies, prayers and invocations to ancestors and gods, also to perform sacrifices. Stones and posts represent deceased chiefs.
There are different types of marae; family ones, special ones for medicine men, canoe makers, fishermen etc., Mata’einaa for people of a particular district. Social marae for descendants of the same line or tribe. Aril nui or national marae for chiefs and Taputapuatea (dedicated to the god ‘Oro), in Opoa, Raitea Island – religious and cultural hub of Central Polynesia, the only International marae.
Just a very small number of churches we drove by, some villages boast two or three.
The botanical gardens (own blog) provided us with a gentle bimble.
We read loads of labels and saw that the pomelo tree came from Thailand.
Marae ‘Arahurahu, a brief stop. We decided it was time to head down to see the surfers.
The big bay at Vairao.
Just before we technically joined the road on Tahiti Iti, we were delighted to see our old friend from Panama, Zebedee. Alan must still be working in the UK as we could just make out Dougal on the deck. This whole area adjoining the isthmus provides a hurricane hidey-hole, haul-out and a fair sized marina.
No sooner than we were in the right area than we saw a sign for an ‘Official Viewing Area’ for the competition we had planned our day around, that and a visit to Carrefour (surely a highlight, don’t call me surely) and delivered back in time for Dave to meet Jenny at the airport at nine fifteen – the most important reason of all. We saw NO-ONE. The place we were was like a ghost town.
Not to literally give over an aura of negative waves, Moriarity, to quote the line from a great film, I was not too certain that ..............”No” our hostess, who had clearly risen from a deep nap, said, “All finished last weekend”. Dave was most put out, for days he had promised me scantily clad, muscular Adonisis-type experiences of the visual kind. As we were the only customers in the beach bar we felt obliged to have a cup of coffee. Hot didn’t come to mind, call it tepid to sound positive and at three dollars, perhaps it was as well the boys had enjoyed their chicken butties. The kitchen was thankfully closed. We did ask how big the surf got here, “Oh, an average of six to eight meters, up to about ten”. Today it was struggling with ten inches of surf. Just goes to show how the ocean can change.
There was a little flurry of activity as the water bus went by, our hostess pointed to a small vessel not worthy of a picture or any sounds like Ooooo, but we watched as a chap skied for four minutes..
Dave was still not one bit satisfied, Bear took this picture to prove that the Billabong Pro Tahiti should have indeed been on for a further five days – including today. Oh well, nothing for it but to put my visions aside and drive as far as we could just to say we had gone to mile marker zero.
All of three minutes later we were at the end of the road. The most amazing thing is, the picture above could have been taken just about anywhere in suburbia, except for the coconut trees of course.
Teahupoo. To mark the occasion Bear drove us twice round the roundabout, why - because he could, well the car is tiny enough to do it easily. The birds were impressed, we watched as the bus did a very tight turn, with all this high octane entertainment Dave needed an ice cream, he had seen a sign outside a shop a while ago by a beach. Off we went.
The Great Brit and ‘is mate abroad...........
We watched these two men as they sat and fileted their fish, their older children out with nets and snorkels. What was so impressive, humbling even, was all the little ones were gathered around laughing and chattering, sometimes going off to play or paddle, so happy, no squabbling. They didn’t have a toy, ball, or bucket and spade between them. Sadly, time to move on.
Up the East coast, round the top to our last stop at Venus Point (own blog), before passing through Papeete and on to do our shopping. We saw this incredible display of Spanish moss after we took a wrong turn, stopped and asked for directions.
This happy little chap suddenly went coy when he saw the camera.
Whilst this man positively glowed white against the black sand.
We left Venus Point and right on schedule made our very last stop at the large Carrefour. Down to the last inch, the car was filled and for us homeward bound. Dave had enough time to put his shopping away before going to meet Jenny at the airport. We had to get our not small pile of supplies aboard, chisel the chicken pieces apart, load the freezer, clean and fill the fridge, eat some stew and fall into bed.
ALL IN ALL A VERY FULL AND FUN-FILLED DAY
VERY WEIRD TO BE BEHIND THAT SORT OF WHEEL