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Published: April 17th 2019
Memorial Stone to the Bounty
Reverse side has names of all crew members
Today we are in Papeete. Tahiti is the largest of the French Polynesian Archipelago and Papeete is the capital city. This is the furthest south that we will go during our vacation. We are at Longitude 149W and Latitude 17S. It was partially overcast all day with even a couple of light showers, and the afternoon temperature was 90 degrees. This is officially a French Territory. That takes care of some of the numbers.
We got up at 7:00 to get dressed and had a quick breakfast in the International Café, before we had to report to the Capri Dining Room on deck-5 at 8:15. The ship was still in the process of docking but we were expected to leave soon afterwards. At 8:40 they were still going through the process to get French Customs approval to go ashore, but they allowed anyone with mobility difficulties to ride the elevator down to the gangway and be at the start of the line when we could leave. However, we had to stand there for at least 20 minutes while everyone else without problems were sitting in chairs back upstairs. Anyway, we finally got cleared and we actually were able to get
the front seats the bus. On the way off the ship, everyone received a small flower which smelled very nice, and there were half a dozen performers on the pier to welcome everyone to their country.
Our itinerary took us to four different locations around the islands on a 3-hour tour. While driving between locations our guide gave us a lot of information. The first location was at a park/viewing point near Matavai Bay, with a scenic view of one of the main bays near Papeete. Today was a school holiday and there were a lot of kids and parents swimming in the shallow water near the point. This beach like all of them on Tahiti is a black sand beach. This is because this island is only about a million years old and still has lots of volcanic lava decomposing to form the sand. Older islands have white sand beaches because they have a higher content of decomposed coral. Anyway, it was a great view and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun playing in the water. At this location there is a lighthouse which was supposedly built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s father. Near the base
of the lighthouse is a marker dedicated to Captain James Cook and another marker commemorating Captain Bligh and the HMS Bounty. His actual statue is currently being moved to the James Norman Hall museum – the guy who wrote Mutiny on the Bounty.
The next stop was at the Faarumai Waterfall. It is a 10 minute hike to get to the base of the waterfall, but it was worth the walk. This is a “permanent” waterfall – meaning it flows year round. There are many other “temporary” waterfalls because they only flow during the rainy season. On this side of the island they get about 4-5 feet of rain per year whereas the other side gets about 3 times that much. The center of the island receives about 25 feet of rain per year. Since we only had a couple of sprinkles while we were driving from place to place, this was just fine.
Our third stop was at the Blow Hole Arahoho. This is a geologic formation where narrow tunnels have been eroded in the lava near the sea. When a wave crashes against the end of the tunnel, it forces a spray of water through the
not a great picture
tunnel and out the other end – called a blow hole. Sometimes the surf is not strong enough to force water and all you hear is the air blowing through the tunnel, but today we got some spray. It is not as large and impressive as one we have seen in Hawaii or in Australia, but it was good. Some folks got caught walking past at the wrong time and got quite wet, but that did not happen to us.
The final photo stop was at the Point Venus Viewing Site. Again you have an impressive view of the coastline and can even see the nearby island of Moorea. That is really only a couple of miles from Tahiti and is the second youngest island (about 2 million years). It was a little hazy today so our view was not as great as it could have been on a clear day, but we definitely got to see the saw-tooth mountain tops jutting up from the ocean.
There are about 27,000 people living in or near Papeete with a total of 200,000 on Tahiti. Our guide said that unemployment is about 20% and as many as 25% of the
population live below the the poverty line ($400 per month). She said that more than 50% live below the French poverty line of $1100 per month. In spite of that the island looks much more prosperous to our viewpoint than the Samoan Islands looked. The principle industry is tourism. Last month there were 6 cruise ships which came to Tahiti and this month there are 14 scheduled. But in May there is only one ship and nothing in June-August. So being a tour guide is busy work when a ship arrives but nothing much to do when the ships are away.
The whole French Polynesian Archipelago covers about 5 million square kilometers but only 3600 of those are land – the rest is territorial waters. Of the 3600, Tahiti is one-third of all the land. Of the 118 islands in total, only about 57 are inhabited. Those other 56 islands are fairly small, including the two we will see the next two days. That is probably enough facts and figures about Tahiti.
We returned to the ship a little after noon and found they were doing some maintenance work on the ship’s power system. The upper decks (including
tattooing is culturally significant
our cabin and the Horizon Court Buffet) had no lights or cooling. We quickly dropped our stuff in the cabin and rode up to the Lido deck in the elevator with only one small “emergency light”. It got us there anyway and we found the food lines were working but the room was fairly warm. We took our plates to the deck-14 Outrigger Bar and got some sodas. There was a nice breeze and we enjoyed our lunch sitting comfortably in the shade.
After lunch Janet took her knitting to the Promenade Deck and settled down where they did have air conditioning and rested for a while. David took his camera back to town (we were docked pretty much in downtown Pateete) and took a few more pictures and did a little shopping in the nearby markets. As we said they are heavily dependent on tourists and there were MANY places to buy souvenirs. David started with a minimal amount of cash, so he settled mostly for browsing and taking some pictures. We did remember someone who very recently had a birthday though, so maybe she will get a present from us after all. :-)
Back on the
ship it was after 3:00, he was able to get Janet another one of her special coffee drinks and David got a large Coca Cola. Then it was time to settle our tired legs into the cabin for a rest. That is where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Although initially there were lots of choices of excursions here, they sold all of the ship’s excursions and had to get the tour companies to added extra shifts for passengers and crew to go see/do whatever they wanted. So in reality we could have booked another excursion but we were pretty tired so we had Nap Time.
At 5:00 we went to dinner in the dining room. Tonight everyone at our table had Surf & Turf. That had been an option previously but on a Friday – today we got to have some and it was delicious. We had assorted appetizers and desserts with liquors. Then we went to the Princess Theater where they had a special team from Tahiti doing local dances and songs. It was very high energy and we enjoyed it a lot. Then we went back to the cabin. David went back out to the
town to get a few pictures of the ship all lit up. We will not sail until after midnight so he has plenty of time to get these last Tahitian pictures. They will not get posted tonight – look for them to be added in a few days.
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