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Christmas Tahiti Style

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Arriving at nearly midnight to a country with humidity so high my hair grew in volume by about 3 inches was not a great start. I had to phone our pension so they would come and pick us up – mobile did not want to work at all on the island, no coin phones so had to buy a phone card from the bar – ahhhh! At least we are here.

The next day after a rest and an amazing view of the next island from our room our spirits were lifted. It looks like paradise, the colours are so vibrant – greens, pinks, yellows and the sound of foreign birds in the trees………….. and even my French has been understood. It feels so weird that everyone is speaking French but so nice that I can understand everything. We ventured out on “Le Truck” to look round Papeete. Le Truck is a bus service that you can flag down from anywhere, it’s like a covered van that has wooden benches stuck in it – including one along the middle that you have to straddle to sit on. All very cosy but the people are so friendly that it was quite fun going round the corners.

Papeete is not a very pretty town. Many people have said they felt in danger walking around but I didn’t get that vibe at all. We walked through the markets and flower stalls – women were making leis and flower arrangements for Christmas and the smells were amazing – Glade should take a leaf out of their book. Shoppers all seemed to be busy with last minute Christmas buys but again it still does not feel like Christmas Eve. There are a few decorations but it just feels too hot! The rain did nothing to clear the humidity and by the time we had walked up the hill to our pension we were all shattered and ready for bed. PS note to Santa – am so sorry but I completely forgot to put out any milk and cookies for you this year!

Christmas Day

Well our present opening was the fastest in years. We got each other one small one and also treated ourselves to chocolates. Josh bless him had also bought some from the duty free on the plane unknown to us so it was like a mini feast! Our room also had it’s one Christmas decoration hanging up so we were set.

It rained for most of the day and after some enquiries at the tourist office yesterday everything on the island was shut. The posh hotels wanted $150 each for the Christmas buffet so a bit out of our price range. We had stocked up on food yesterday at the supermarket, even a baguette costs close to £2.50 in Tahiti – I have no idea how the islanders manage on such steep costs. After a trashy Christmas movie we got ready to go out for a walk but it poured down so we spent the afternoon reading trashy magazines that someone had left (a treat as have not looked at one in months) and watching more pirate movies that we purchased in Peru and playing travel games. It sounds boring but we actually had a nice day.

Boxing Day

With everything open again it was time to go exploring. We had to change accommodation as the place we were in was full so the lovely Lola came and picked us up  and dropped us off at the bus stop – she was so much friendlier than the other hosts we had and a real character.

Moorea is the next island to Tahiti and has a much more relaxed feel – imagine Lost and you’re there. The mountains rise high and are covered in greenery, the white sand beaches are all framed by palm trees and the clear turquoise water just calls to you………….The boat over was filled with tourists – many kids stroking what looked like new ipods. It was nice to have the sun out and to sit on the top deck taking in the rays.

Our day trip was to the Lagoonarium – a mini island only accessible by small boat just off the coast of Moorea. You can snorkel with rays, turtles and sharks. We nearly missed the entrance as it basically a tiny shack on the side of the road. We had to wade out to the outrigger that took us across and very unelegantly fall into the boat. A 5 min ride across and we were there. The island is tiny but it looked incredible. The rays and sharks stay close to the shore as there is a net keeping them in which was a bit disappointing but the kids had fun feeding the rays and having them go over their feet. The reef lies in very shallow waters so you could go out for a swim outside the nets but we have been spoilt in Hawaii and Mexico and there weren’t as many fish to see. O and I went for a walk around the island and we did see weird sea snake/cucumber things that looked like a tube from a hoover – very strange! O also found a huge shell with beautiful inlay that we asked if we could keep it as a souvenir – I hope it gets past customs in NZ. I can’t believe we will be there tomorrow – I am sooo excited!