This was our third full day at Papeete. We were becoming more familiar with our surroundings and were establishing routines and patterns. In the morning Brenda and I visited an Internet facility and checked on our banking and I published text and quite a few photos on this blog. Brenda produced a superb lunch with local bread, butter, cheese, salad, and freshly cut fruit salad for desert. In the afternoon Arnold and I washed clothes on the jetty using the marvelous camp washing machine that Brenda had found in Fremantle. We also washed our wet weather gear and packed away the Zodiac inflatable which was clean and dry. We had a light evening meal on the deck accompanied by a 1 liter cask of light Spanish red wine (reminded me of Sangria) that is well priced at about $10 AUD. Afterwards the three of us went for an evening stroll and we telephoned various people, some successfully and some not.
31 Oct 2008
This was Brenda's birthday. I am such a lousy gift picker that I asked her to help me out by choosing something that she would like. She had a couple of go's but found nothing so that will come another day. However, Arnold and I tried to give her a pleasant day. I made sure that I washed all of the dishes at the boat and in the evening we had a splendid time at the outdoor food court. We had celebrated our arrival in Papeete by opening the marvelous cake that Victor and Sonya had given to us before our departure from Fremangle. We chose this appropriate birthday night to finish the cake.
In the morning Brenda and I visited the information kiosk and got instructions on where to catch what bus to where. We plan to take a local bus to the marina next week. However, for the next day our plan was more ambitious. Tahiti is made up of really two islands barely joined together. There is the big island, Tahiti Nui, and the smaller one, Tahiti Iti. One bus runs along the western side of Tahiti Nui and across the narrow neck to the western side of Tahiti Iti. The other bus does a similar run on the eastern side. We have seen the back road of Tahiti Iti and we think that it is the poor quality of that road that prevents a complete circuit of the islands by bus. Anyway, our plan was to take one of the two buses the next day to get a tour of the island at local prices.
We all put time into the Internet. We have found a pretty pleasant and professional Internet place that seems to be secure. For me it was my second day on the Net and by the end of the day this blog had been brought up to date with plenty of photos, and most of my email dealt with. I found an email from Bernie in WA that reminded me to update Pachuca's position on the sailing club's Google map. He thought that we might be in Seattle by now. I checked our version 4.3 of the cruising plan with which we had sailed out of Fremantle and sure enough we were supposed to be in Seattle on 28 October. This, folks, illustrates the difference between arm chair sailing and reality.
It was when paying for my first Internet session of the day that I got confirmation of our impression that the people of Tahiti are very honest. I had to pay something like 1750 cpf so I handed the man two 1000 pf bills. He held one up and said “This is 1000 francs.” The then held up the second one and said “This is 10,000 francs. Be careful.” I thanked him very much and told him that I would be careful. (In my feeble defense, both bills look almost identical to me.)
During the day the Tahitian Princess cruise liner departed to be replaced by Paul Gauguin out of Nassau. Drew and Margie were on the Tahitian Princess on a 10-day cruise while the engine in their boat is being replaced.
One of our surprises was how seriously the Tahitians take Halloween. There were Halloween decorations in various businesses and public places and many of the shop people were done up. In the evening after our meal (where Claude and his wife recommended the roast veal) we had an enjoyable 30 minutes at the little public arena watching the children having a great time running around in their costumes and getting modest handouts of candy. This was under the music of a DJ who played, among other things, Michael Jackson's “Thriller”.
1 Nov 2008
This turned out to be a very good day for us. We got up early and waited for the bus to Tahiti Iti which the information kiosk said to expect between 7 and 7.15 AM. At 7.45 we gave up waiting and went to the kiosk to see if the fact that it was Saturday affected the schedule. The kiosk would not open until 8 AM so Arnold elected to return to the boat and Brenda and I decided to visit the market then catch a “truck” bus to the marina. The “trucks” are light trucks with a really crude wooden bus body built on. It was a delightful ride where we got to see the “suburbs” of Tahiti, the airport, several ministries, the centre of Catholic church education, etc. We found ourselves in a conversation with a local man on his way to a market to sell rings of black Tahiti pearls set in coconut fibres that he makes. We told him about our trip on the boat and he was very helpful with advice on getting to the marina. Toward the end he asked me if I had Polynesian ancestry which I took as a high compliment from him. I replied no and mentioned my Spanish background. (I had mentioned earlier to Brenda that if I got any darker I would be taken for a native, and there it was. In the past I've been taken for Turkish, Greek, Lebanese, English, Italian, and Australian Aboriginal that I can remember. I can now proudly add Polynesian.)
The Taina marina at Punaauia is modern, large with over 500 boats, and in a stunning setting with the lagoon, reef, and the island of Moorea in the background. In the large lagoon there are 40 or 50 boats at anchor. Unfortunately Brenda and I found it a disappointment. My impression, fair or not, was of a sleepy somewhat boring backwater cut off from the city. There was a small boat shop that sold only ropes, chains, anchors, floats, etc; so even that was a disappointment. Apparently the bar comes alive at night but much as I enjoy a drink I am well past whooping it up in a noisy bar. I think that had we arrived at the marina first we would have been perfectly happy there. However, we have been spoiled with our almost private (only Claude and his wife in their Beneteau, with Drew and Margie off on a 10-day cruise while their engine is being replaced) jetty in the heart of Papeete.
We went back to the road to catch the return bus and found ourselves standing under the late-morning sun. We started to move to shade and a small white van that had been parked at the bus stop approached us. The driver said that this was a religious holiday weekend and everything would be closed until Monday. There would be no more buses. The next thing we knew we were in the back of the van on the way to Papeete. We told him our story and he said that the family of the shy lady riding with him was from Raivavae. He dropped us off across from the boat and Brenda told him that he was a kind man in French. He saw the name “Pachuca” and we exchanged a few words in Spanish after I told him that my name was Morales and I had been born in Puerto Rico.
We then raced back to the market and it was still open, though many of the stalls had either not opened for business that morning (now we knew why) or had closed up. Fortunately we got what we needed: two meter-long sticks of marvelous French bread, a big lump of fresh red tuna for only 1000 Pacific francs (cfp), some cucumbers, bananas, lemons for the fish, and four pineapples on a string. On the way out Brenda and I shared a “frozen coconut”. It is a chilled young coconut. Before your eyes they chop the top off, stick two straws in it, and you get an amazing amount of chilled coconut milk for little more than the price of a Coca Cola. Outside of the market I noticed that I did not have my sun glasses. I went back into the market in a fruitless search and spent the next 30 minutes beating myself up for my carelessness. Fortunately I had two spare sets on board, including one of the two pairs that Roland had given to me in Darlington.
We had lunch which included a wonderful fresh fruit salad of local pineapple, paw paw, and banana with mango from the Marquesas. After lunch Arnold and I turned our attention to the anchor winch that had quit working dong the heavy lifting at our anchorage in Tahiti Iti (the small island). Arnold got to work with the multimeter and I acted as TA switching things on and making connections when requested. What Arnold saw did not make sense so he spent 20 minutes writing a schematic of how he thought things were. He then bypassed the solenoid and still no action. This pointed to a possible battery problem. We took the battery to the cockpit and did a crude check with a piece of wire and found it very lively indeed. It must be the cable, but it was very unusual for a thick cable to fail. He did a resistance check and found that the thick positive cable was not conducting properly. We cleaned the terminals of the cable and tried again with no success. While Arnold took a break I got to work removing the cable. When reaching underneath the front bulkhead I found the mother of all cable breaks. Something must have nicked the cable in the past and corrosion had worked its almost all of the way through. The high and prolonged load of the new more powerful winch must have taken out the last few strands of cable left. What a relief to find that the new electric winch was OK! And what good fortune to have an electrical engineer on board. Arnold did a great job.
We had a superb dinner on the cockpit with plenty of fresh tuna, a large fresh salad over Spanish red wine. The cucumbers that we had purchased earlier were the best that I can recall eating. The Avocados were yummy. The tomatoes those amazingly red and tasty local ones that unfortunately leave the Australian ones for dead. The bananas are small but very tasty. The pineapples are delicious. We are finding that Papeete, though generally expensive, can be good value if you play to its strengths, e.g. fresh fish, bread, fruit, and vegetables. The bread is very cheap because like many staples it is subsidized. (In the supermarket items with red labels indicate subsidized.) A few days ago Brenda and Arnold returned with two cases of Heineken bottles on special that came out to about $3 AUD per bottle. Brenda discovered Spanish wines in 1 liter cartons at about 580 cfp which comes out to less than $10 AUD per liter.
After dinner Brenda and I went for a stroll to see the gigantic cruising ship “Sun Princess” that had recently arrived. On the way back we passed the small group of people who sleep rough next to the main path between the information centre and the harbourside promenade that leads to the boat. It is a small group who sleep on cardboard mats and have their possessions next to them. They never bother anyone – never any begging – and the authorities seem to leave them alone even though they are on the inevitable path of visiting tourists. We are not sure what the situation is, though I must say that sleeping rough in a tropical paradise doesn't look too bad to me. Anyway, on the way back behind a stand of cardboard arranged in semicircle we could see a lady having a bath with the assistance of a friend. I found the scene touching and of course we immediately gave them respect and privacy. (Who are we to talk, who have our baths on the jetty in open air and in the cockpit of the boat.) When we returned to the boat Arnold handed me my lost glasses. Fifteen minutes earlier the man who had given us the ride from the marina called out from the gate and handed over the glasses that I had left in his van.
Everything that I have experienced in Papeete so far indicates courtesy, honesty, and kindness.