Papeete - not quite what we expected from the tourist brochures!
The guy on Papeete Port Control radio was really friendly and helpful. He assured us there were spaces at the marina at the centre of town.
Oddly, the marina didn’t answer the radio so we went alongside the waiting pontoon and Franco managed to attract the attention of a security guard who took him to the office. There, Franco met Franco, the marina manager. Sharing a name is always a good ice-breaker and Franco looked after us well. We decided to stay for a week.
Saturday 14th July - Bastille Day, France’s National Day - was spent doing laundry and computer work, it was nearly 4 months since we had last had ‘wifi’ and there was a lot to catch up with. Apart from a very boring military parade that we came across by accident, nothing was happening.
Franco (the other one) told us:
“It’s not our day, it’s THEIR day.”
French Polynesia got its autonomy in 1984 and has steadily been reclaiming its culture.
We went out for a meal and the first restaurant we checked-out (which turns out to be the only good restaurant in town) had salads (for Kath), meat (for Franco) and ice-cream (for both). It even had live music but the band took rather a long time to set up:
“Check check” said the drummer.
“Check, check” said the singer.
We waited an hour and half but they still hadn’t played a tune. We returned to Caramor, just opposite, and as we went to bed, they got going! So we got to hear them anyway.
Sunday we decided to go surfing. The day started with France winning the World Cup as we munched through our muesli. Cars were honking, people were cheering, it was hard to ignore.
Franco said: “the only outcome worse than France winning, would have been England winning. The English would have gone on about it for the next 20 years, they’ve only just stopped talking about 1964!”
I was curious that Bastille Day was not ‘our day’ when clearly the French football team was ‘our team’. On our way to the bus stop, a group of lads greeted us with “Vive la France!”, maybe thinking we were French.
“Tell me,” I asked, “is there a Polynesian player in the team?”
“No, there isn’t,” they said sheepishly. “We’re just supporting.”
“You’re going surfing? There are no buses on Sunday.” They explained. “But don’t worry, you can go tomorrow,” they added helpfully.
Monday was Caramor’s day: filling the gas bottles, buying a few spares and finding out if we could purchase diving kit. Everything was available except the diving bottles, so we gave up on the idea.
In the evening our new friends Anne-Marie and Paul came for dinner. They have been running a charter business ‘l’Escapade’ out of Papeete for many years. They sailed around the world when their kids were still young and miss the cruising friendships. Paul is a friend of a friend of Jackie’s and when we gave Jackie our spare SIM card for his satellite phone in Chile, Paul kindly agreed to be our post box for a new one to be sent out.
Tuesday we tried to go surfing again. The bus driver was a grumpy old lady.
‘The fare is 600 Francs” she told us, then added “each”.
It seemed expensive but then everything is here. Later we found out she had charged us double, quite deliberately. She wasn’t even nice and wouldn’t let us sit on the front seat.
We had nearly arrived when I realised we had forgotten the pump to inflate the surf boards.
Later, as we sat watching the waves, we decided leaving the pump behind had probably been a good thing. We would have taken a pasting in the two metre plus messy waves. Instead we drank coffee and admired the pros.
The excitement of city life was wearing thin and the weather was still terrible. We had a lot of work to do so we put our noses to the grind stone and only looked up Friday evening. We set sail Saturday for Moorea.
When the sun comes out, the mountains are very beautiful
Busy Pomare Avenue
Caramor in Marina de Papeete