Day 7: Intro to Tahiti Nui

Woke up to a hot, humid day. Chez Myrna is out of the main touristy part of town in a residential area, so we all walked into town, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Papeete. We saw some lovely hibiscus on our walk – hibiscus hedges and bushes. We were relieved to be able to get Diet Coke when we reached a cache on the main street. TS spotted a tourist agency and got us in there. Not only was it worth the trip as it was air conditioned, but TS was decisive and booked us on a bus trip around the island for that afternoon.

Les Trois BrasseursTo fill in time until we needed to meet the bus, we wandered down the street and decided to lunch at Les 3 Brasseurs at the corner of rue B. Pomare and rue Pr. Hinoi. Dad had castole whilst the girls shared mushroom pizza and salad. This brasserie brewed its own beer, and we tested out a few!

We went back and met the bus at the appointed spot in front if the travel agency at 1.15pm.





View across Pape'ete and Mo'oreaWe had the air conditioned bus to ourselves, and the driver took us counter-clockwise around the island. The first stop was at a viewpoint over Pape’ete near the old Hyatt-Motu Martin.  This was a hotel that went out of business, and the jungle was definitely reclaiming it. While we were hear a heavy rain shower can, cooled us off, and left us with the residual humidity and more sunshine as its legacy. These afternoon showers are common.





Le Trou du SoufleurNext stop was a blow hole, Le Trou du Soufleur.  We would never have known it was there ourselves. You stop at a beach with black sand where the locals surf in the late afternoon (according to our guide). The road here has cliff on one side and beach on the other; the blowhole was on the cliff side – you must stand on the curbing to see it. This was where we became acquainted with our first feral dog.

Feral dogsFeral dogs and chickens are everywhere throughout Tahiti. They are universally ignored – do not even seem to be abused – but are friendly enough and are always on there on the edges of human activity. They do not appear to be in very good health; the females all look as though they have had many litters. Many of them look like your basic ‘yallar doag’ – dingo-esque.



The next stop was Les Trois Cascade de Faarumai. We walked close to the 150m high waterfall Vaimahuta.
Cascade Vaimahuta
We also walked around the area a bit, and our guide started showing us some of the MANY different varieties of flowering ginger that are a feature of Tahiti. Our guide had a strange accent which took some getting used to, but he was an extremely friendly young man who continually pointed out varieties of fruits and flowers. He also highlighted some of the everyday things that were unusual for us – such as the fish being sold on the roadside, where landslips had taken out the road and thereby made it impossible to circle the island by road, and the fact that no matter how basic the houses in some of the villages we passed through were the village always pulled funds together to construct a very reputable church.

We continued around the island and saw where Tahiti Iti (Little Tahiti) joins Tahiti Nui. Our guide then showed us through le Jardin Botanique – where we saw MANY varieties of ginger, taro, and a lonely tortoise – originally from the Galapagos, he had outlived his companion and was living to a ripe old age in the gardens. We then made our way around the Musée Gauguin; I must admit I was mainly interested in trying to discover which room was the coolest (we had been out of the air conditioned bus for maybe an hour at this point) and retreating to the loo to re-apply deodorant.

Getting back into the coolness of the bus was lovely, and we continued on our merry way. We stopped at Papara so Dad and TS could take photos of the mountains in mist. Inland, Tahiti is sharp mountains covered in jungle which always seems to have clouds or at least mists clinging to it. Our driver pointed out some farms which he seemed to be quite pleased by the size of; to us they seemed the size of a garden plot!

Our last stop was at Les Grottes de Maraa. The grotto with a mini lake was fantastic, however I think we were all more impressed by a friendly feral dog. All the scenery in Tahiti is stunning. However we are dog people, and these friendly pups that are ignored by those who live there really pull at the hear strings of people facing several weeks without their dogs!

Our driver dropped us on the Quai d’Honneur where les Roulandes, the restaurants on wheels, were getting ready for business. We chose one that not only had veal spit roast for dad but also placed us closest to the harbour. The girls all had swordfish and dad had the roast veal (all served with salad and rice, and a bowl of baguette for the table) as well as trying some poisson cru. This local dish has raw fresh tuna with grated vegetables, such as courgette and carrot, in coconut milk and citrus. It is quite yummy; the tuna is so fresh there is no fishiness and it seemed a cool and light dish to have in the heat and humidity! And our dinner entertainment was provided courtesy of a mouse living in the stone planter that formed the divide between les Roulandes and the Quai.

After having our fill of food and Diet Coke – give us cool liquids! – we walked to the back of le Marché du Pape’ete where we caught le Truck. This in itself seemed an adventure. They driver and his mate smelled strongly of having smoked, well a relaxant, and seemed completely bewildered by looking at a map and by the idea that there might be an intersection with a petrol station where we may want to stop. My French was shockingly (SHOCKINGLY!!!) rusty, however could it really have been that hard? They spoke with quite strong Tahitian accents so perhaps that was part of the trouble, however we were beginning to wonder if these guys had nicked le Truck, just happened to be parked where we were told we could get the one going past our street, and thought ‘hey, why not! They’ll pay!’. Other passengers got on; one seems to pay the passenger as you get out.

We walked home from the corner, saddened that the liquor store was closed and all the cool beer was shut away with no one to love it, however we were quite happy to have showers!