Papeete, Tahiti –January 27
Ever since I
was in my early 20s, I have wanted to visit Tahiti.
I am not quite sure why but maybe it was postcards, pictures or maybe a documentary,
but I have always wanted to go. On of the reasons we never went earlier is
because of the price. The deals you see from where we live in Vancouver
are sometimes 3 to 4 times as much as Mexico
or Hawaii. I
was so excited when I heard the Captain tell us we were going to have an extra
day in Tahiti because we were unable to go to Kona. Well this was the day and we were all ready to get
off this ship. Don’t get me wrong I have said it many times, I really love this
old ship, but those days at sea were just too much.
Papeete – Well, we sprung out of our room
and skipped down the gang plank and were hit with what felt like 100 degree
heat wave. Who cares, we were here and ready to see one of the most beautiful
places in the world. I have heard about the renowned sandy beaches and the
turquoise blue waters of Tahiti and was
bursting to get there as quick as possible. So we walked the 1000 meters from
the ship into the tourist center, and we could tell already something was
amiss. We asked where was the best beach, and got the reply that there was only
one and it was quite rocky. WHAT? I thought this women
had had way too much sun, it must be some kind of cheap tourist trick I
thought. But she was right; Papeete did not really have a good
beach for swimming, snorkeling or sun tanning. I had heard that Bora Bora
was spectacular and was only an hour ferry ride away. So I quickly unloaded this info to her as if
I had been here many times before by asking “where’s the ferry to Bora Bora
then”. Her quick reply back was, “there is no ferry, but you can take a
cargo ship, but it is an 18 hour trip, or you can fly in 1 hour” Now you know
how Helen feels about flying, but it appeared we had no choice. So after
looking like a complete fool we headed up the street to Air Tahiti to find out
prices on our flights to Bora Bora. There was only one thing that would stop
us. RAIN! And I don’t mean any of that little sissy rain that we get up in Vancouver; I mean the
hardest rain I have ever seen. Did you see the pictures from Curacao?
Well that was nothing and we were stuck under a bus stop with no place to hide.
The rain seemed to miss the canopy over our heads and bounce off the ground in
front of us and then on to our clothes. We were getting soaked and cranky after
only ½ hour of standing there, so I suggested we run the 100 feet to the
sidewalk bar down the street with the canopy. Well, we ran and we could not
have gotten any wetter than we were. We ordered one pop for the kids to split
and 2 beers which cost us 25 dollars, just to add insult to injury. It did not
matter, I thought, as we will only be here for another 10 minutes until the
rain stops and then we will go to Air Tahiti and get the heck off this Island. Well 2 hours later and the rain showed no sign of
stopping. Fortunately we were joined by Martyn, our
cruise director and his wife Louisa from the ship. We spent an hour having a
nice little chat and a couple more drinks with those folks before we left.
Super nice couple!
Cooling off in a Papeete Bar
arrived at Air Tahiti only to find that our only choice of planes was a little
propeller plane and Helen was not so sure. I have to give her credit because
she said she would do it, but I knew in my heart she would be absolutely
terrified. I would rather us stay on this crappy little island than drag my
family somewhere else only to be disappointed. You see, I had only heard that Bora Bora
was beautiful, only that was from the same person that told me it was only an
hour ferry ride, so I really had no clue at this point. But what I really
wanted to know was, why in the heck (I am trying to be nice) did I ever
want to come to this place?
to go back to the ship to change, eat and give Papeete another
chance after dinner. I still had to see if I could get some messages and
pictures out from one of the two internet café’s the information center told me
about. So Helen and the kids headed back to the ship while I tried to find an
internet café. After walking a block in the pouring rain I found a Bar/Internet
café. The only problem was, so had the entire ship and the line was out the
door. I can usually get my messages out through my phone as a text message, but
it would not work on this island. SURPRISE!
I am very cranky now and not willing to wait a couple hours in some bar
soaking wet, so I kept going. The information lady told us that there was one
only a couple of blocks further so I headed down that way. Only 3 blocks from
the ship, I found the area to be a lot less friendly. Prostitutes and tattoo parlours seemed to be the main businesses in this area so I
quickly turned around and headed back to the ship. I can’t believe how bad this
whole thing was, I was so dejected and just wanted to get back to the safety of
the ship. We ate dinner and no one even mentioned going back out, so we hung
around the ship and watched it rain.
Day 2 Tahiti
morning we awoke and started in on Nikolas’s school
work and after that headed to lunch. The ship was leaving tomorrow for an Island called Moorea so we were
hopeful that we would at least go to a beach. Martyn
the cruise director we had drinks with told us if we went to the Sheraton hotel
and showed our Ship ID, we could swim in the pool. So we gathered up our suits
and towels and dragged our sad little butts down the gang plank (actually 2 big
ones and 2 little ones). We got outside the security gate and this lady handed
us an info pamphlet on the Island
I asked her if they had any nice beaches and how long it would take to get
there. She said it had many beautiful beaches and it only took 30 minutes by
Catamaran. I looked at Helen and we both said lets go! and
headed the 300 meters down the sidewalk to the ferry dock. We asked when the
next one was leaving and he said in 15 minutes and he confirmed that it would
only take 30 minutes to get there. We had a problem. The last ferry back was at
4:40 and it was already after lunch, so we would only have a couple of hours. We
had heard that transportation was not easy on that Island
so would have to decide if it was worth it. What are you nuts? I would have
done it if it was only for an hour. You see after Tahiti we had another long stretch at sea to New Zealand
and I would have given anything to have an hour on the beach with my family. So
we got on this very large catamaran and headed out towards Moorea.
Once the catamaran cleared the break water and we hit the open sea, a bad thing
happened. The swells were tossing this boat up and down and I could see that
look of sea sickness, not just from Helen, but Danika
and Nikolas were turning green. By the time we
reached Moorea, Nikolas was
in full barf mode and Helen looked like death. As a joke I said “well kids
we’ve got 2 hours and then we have go back on this same boat” I won’t tell you
what kinds of looks I got back, just use your imagination. This day had the
potential to be worst than yesterday, there is no way the kids will relax on a
beach knowing they have to get back on that bucking bronco.. This was supposed
to be a wonderful stop and since L.A., we only
had one stop in Hawaii
and then this disaster. For the 2nd time on this trip, I was again
starting to second guess myself about this whole thing.
MOOREA Tahiti – January 28
Steve’s stories makes it sound like I am having a terrible time on this
trip. I just want it noted here that
there have been a few days that have been a little difficult but the majority
of the time I am having the time of my life.
It just seems like we mention a lot of the ‘bad’ things that happen,
they always seem more interesting I guess.
I always bug Steve and tell him he should have married someone that was
more adventurous than me. Imagine going
on an adventure like this when you don’t particularly like to fly or
cruise. Poor guy but he’s stuck with me
so anyways……back to Moorea.
Dani getting ready, Helen saying
don’t take a picture and Nikolas snorkling
finally got off that horrendously rough ferry ride a twist of fate occurred and
we were about to begin what will most likely be the most memorable portion of
our trip. Just to go back a bit, when we were on Papeete and were at
the ferry dock paying for our tickets we noticed a couple from the ship there
too. We had seen them a few times at the
casino, as a matter of fact she was sitting beside me
when I was in the blackjack tournament.
She was the one who won the whole thing.
They are this most amazing couple that are so
alive and exciting. Whenever they are around there is always laughter and they
brighten up the room when they come in.
They are from England
and they are very attractive and they have the ability to draw people to
wherever they are. It’s quite
amazing. Anyway, they were buying
tickets for this same ferry and then they disappeared and we didn’t realize
that they were on the same ferry as us but just upstairs. When we arrived on Moorea
we saw them again and we noticed that they were talking to a driver of a
bus/truck. We wanted to get to this
beach we had seen on a map we were given in Papeete
so Steve went up to this same guy and asked him if he would stop at the beach
for us. He said yes so we hopped into
the back of this vehicle that can only be described as a long flatbed truck
with benches as seats and a makeshift cover over it. It was filled with locals and the six of us,
Steve, me and the kids and this couple.
We ended up sitting beside them and we got talking and introduced
ourselves and they told us that they were going to a hotel and that they were
going to stay the night. You see, the
next morning the ship was coming to Moorea so instead
of spending the night in the ship as it cruised around in the bay they decided
to stay on the island.
course, peaked my interest but I thought that Steve
would never go for it. So we drove along
in the back of this old truck and as we were driving along I thought to myself
how careful we are at home to make sure the kids are all strapped in to their
seats with Danika in a booster seat and then I look
and we are bouncing along, sitting on benches with not a seatbelt to be
seen. For some odd reason though, it
felt completely fine. I can’t explain it
but it just felt like a natural thing to do.
Well, the drive took about 20 minutes and as soon as we pulled into the
Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Hotel, we fell in love. Instantly. No question.
It was the most beautiful place we have ever seen in our entire
lives. This place was exactly what we
had imagined the South Pacific was going to look like. The entire hotel is made up of grass
huts. The huge reception area was one
massive one and all the ‘rooms’ were separate little grass huts with your
choice of a garden site or the ones on stilts over the ocean.
Lights come on under these huts at night and you can
just sit and watch through the glass floor.
The beach was the most beautiful
white sandy beach with turquoise water and it was a sheltered coral reef that
was huge! The swimming pool was the
same colour as the ocean and it was beautiful. We knew right away that we were not going
anywhere. The other couple made sure we
got the same rate as them and we immediately stripped to our bathing suits and
jumped in the pool. It was as warm as a
bathtub, the swimming pool AND the ocean.
The kids were in their glory and I was really happy for them because
they have been real troopers on this trip so far.
It was nice for them to have a chance
to just let loose and have some fun.
is so tropical here as it is their rainy season. Every so often, a cloud will blow in on the
soft breeze and the rain will start. It
will fall for a few minutes and cool you off and then within minutes the sun is
scorching hot again. Beside the pool
there was a bar and soon it was time for a drink and some lunch. We had a couple of tropical drinks and shared
an enormous sandwich filled with tuna and mahi mahi. It was
delicious and the kids had French fries and hamburgers. Nikolas was a
little freaked out because this chicken was walking around all the tables and
chairs and it was like a dog. It was
eating all the crumbs off the ground. He
kept asking me if the chicken was going to jump up on his lap and peck at his
face. I said no but he spent the whole
lunch with his feet on his chair and his eye on that chicken. And of course, who does the chicken gravitate
to? Nikolas. Every time it came close I would clap and it
would run away. When Nikolas
clapped at it, it would step towards him and stare at him. It was quite hilarious.
It was a good thing these kids don’t drink, a Mai Tai is over $20 Bucks Cdn
finally made it to our hut we were pleasantly surprised to find a huge grass
hut with a king size bed that had a beautiful mosquito net around it. The hut had a vaulted ceiling made out of
very tightly woven grass and on the inside were beautiful wooden beams holding
it up. The bathroom had a huge shower
and a wonderful claw footed bathtub. The
toilet and bidet were behind saloon style swinging wooden doors. A nice shaded deck out the sliding doors and
we were only steps from the pool which was very convenient. We all showered, Danika
took a little nap and soon it was time for dinner. We realized that there was one other couple
at the hotel from the ship. They were a
young couple from New York and coincidently
all of us, including the couple from England were on a year long world
tour of some sort. It was so bizarre
that we all ended up together at this hotel with this in common. We all had dinner together and all got to
know each other and we realized we had just made friends with some great new
people. We were so happy to be there. The restaurant was a huge grass hut that was
open all around so that the warm breeze from the ocean washed over us as we all
sat, ate and drank some good food and alcohol.
In the background there were about four or five natives at a table
singing a native song and one of them had a drum. It was so perfect.
we all walked down to the beach and we stayed there for hours telling jokes and
having a great time. The kids really
connected with the couple from England, their names are Mel
and Ann and the night was just magical.
We were a little worried because Steve and I did not tell the ship that
we were not returning that night. Steve
sent them an e-mail but he had no way of knowing whether they got it or
not. We were all laughing at about
midnight because we were wondering whether our names were being called over the
p.a. system with the ship wondering what had happened to us. Our other thought was what would happen if
the ship couldn’t anchor the next morning in Moorea
like it couldn’t in Kona. Worst case scenario? We had to stay in paradise. We knew they had left without us when in the
far distance we could see the lights of the ship as it rounded the corner from Papeete
on its way to Moorea.
As we were
on the beach we noticed that some of the huts that were on stilts over the
ocean had a bright light under them. We
found out that these special huts had glass floors in them and at night when
the light went on in the water you could see all the coral and tropical fish
from the comfort of your own hut. Wow!!! These ones were about $700us a night.
The next day
we requested a late checkout and spent the whole day in the pool and at the
beach. I met a young woman and her 14
month old son in the pool and found out that her husband was the director of
the hotel and that they had just arrived 2 weeks ago for a 2year stay. She was very friendly and her son was just
gorgeous and they had just moved from Switzerland. Wow, what a life!!!
Nikolas tried snorkeling but, you guessed it, he freaked out when the
fish came towards him so he spent the day in the pool. Danika had brought
a floating tube with her so she spent the whole day floating around the pool
having a great time. The kids just loved
this place and we did not want to leave.
really neat at one point, when a group of staff from the ship arrived at the
hotel to relax. They were the staff from
the casino and because we have spent so much time there Steve and I and Mel and
Ann knew a lot of them very well. It was
nice to see them in their regular clothes (bathing suits) having a good
time. Everyone just raved about the
surroundings. Steve rented out a bunch
of snorkeling gear for them so they could have a chance to see the coral reef.
the only negative part of the day was that Nikolas
woke up feeling very nauseated. We
thought maybe it was the Norwalk
virus from the ship but then we narrowed it down to his shower the night
before. While he was showering I heard
him slurping up water. He does that at
home a lot. I yelled, “You’re not
drinking the water are you?” and he said, “NO, well just a little bit”. The
next day he woke up and puked for most of the day. He puked in the bathroom, and then many more
times in the garden beside the pool. He
always felt better after he puked so he would swim and have fun until the next
wave hit and then he would get out of the pool head to he
garden and throw up. He is the best puker I have ever seen.
By the end of the day he was fine.
Me, on the other hand, starting feeling seasick on
land. I needed the motion of the
boat and being off the boat for a full 24 hours made me ‘land sick’ , can you believe it?
As soon as I got back on the boat I felt better.
The ship was
anchored in a bay just around the corner from the hotel. We walked to the end of the pier and we could
see her anchored there in all her glory.
It really was a beautiful sight.
And as all
good things must come to an end, we packed our stuff, which wasn’t much. We had a change of clothes and sunscreen,
that’s all. No toothbrushes, no
hairbrushes, no deodorant. Boy, we felt a
little like the contestants on Survivor, we probably smelt like them too. We got into a van that had seatbelts! All of us shared a cab and we drove to the
sight of the tenders. When we got there
the line-up was huge so we all found a spot under a tree, Steve bought us all
fresh, COLD coconuts and we sat there and drank coconut milk straight from the
coconut and waited to get on the tender to get back on the ship. The locals had some of their wares for sale
and we bought a couple of things, got on the tender and got back on the
ship. We had had such a good time that
it felt like we had been gone for a week.
Hopefully, one day, we will come back and stay in paradise for a much
We took a ferry over to Moorea, wow what a place. Like out of a post card. The most
beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We
are staying in a bungalow and not returning to the ship tonight. We will meet
up with it tomorrow. I'll try and send you some stories and pics
This place is magical!!!!!!!!!!
Steve (sent January 27 @ 4:11
Just pulled into Tahiti and the cell won't connect, I will try and find an
internet cafe so I might be able to get you some pictures too. The pics CD just went out in the mail to your home, its being sent to you from Tahiti,
so it may take a while.
Steve (sent January 26 @ 3:31
I am in a
Internet Cafe but can’t get you anything.
Remember Martinque in the Carib, well that’s
what Tahiti is like. French and no English and
they have no set up for my hard drive. Oh well you'll get them in the mail and
I'll send you a story from the ships system. We can't get to Bora Bora, but will
go to the other island tomorrow. Thank god because it is pouring rain here and
it looks just Main and Hastings.
I see what I can do in the next island,
Steve (sent January 26 @ 7:58
(Info downloaded from http://www.papeete.com/
Papeete is a unique city like no other in the world. French Polynesia's
capital and center of business, it's population is reported to be between 90
-120,000 people, depending on where the city limit is defined, accounting for
well over half of the Island of Tahiti's overall population of 180,000 people.
Although virtually ALL travelers arriving in
French Polynesia inevitably venture into Papeete (due to it's having Polynesia's
only international airport), very few stay for very long or attempt to explore
or experience it's unique flavor. Opinions vary as to
the "likeability" of the city. By far the majority of tourists
arriving in Tahiti use Papeete
as a mere stopover point for getting to the outer lying smaller and less
populated Society Islands.
Full country name: French Polynesia
Area: 5 million sq km
People: Polynesians (Maohis - 83%), Europeans
(12%), Asians (5%)
Language: English, Tahitian, French
Religion: Protestant (55%), Catholic (30%), Mormon, Seventh-Day
Adventist, Buddhist, Confucianist
Government: Overseas territory of the Republic of France
Head of State: President Jacques Chirac
Head of Government: President of the Territorial Assembly Gaston Flosse
GDP: US$2.8 billion
GDP per capita: US$12,750
Major Industries: Tourism, pearling
Major Trading Partners: France,
USA, Japan and New Zealand