Sunday 15th March (again) – Vicki
Happy Birthday Vicki’s Dad & Rob (again)!
After a lucky escape from the tail end of the cyclone that pummelled Vanuatu just before it hit Auckland, we arrived to torrential rain and gale force winds in Tahiti. This made the landing interesting to say the least and was not the welcome you would expect from Tahiti. We are definitely seeing the wrong side of tropical weather on this trip. As mentioned before, this was the time travelling leg of our trip – we left NZ on the Sunday afternoon, and landed in Tahiti on the Saturday night. All very confusing!
We were met at the airport by Benni, the manager of our hotel, and in no time at all were all settled in our room and ready for bed. We had chosen this hotel as it was close to the airport, cheap, and included an airport pickup. Arriving at 10.50pm meant that all we were going to do was go to sleep.
The next morning dawned grey, windy and showery. Seriously, we have no luck with the weather! After a quick wander along the waterfront of the capital Papeete, where everything was shut because it was Sunday, we headed to the supermarket (the only thing open) for breakfast before checking out of our hotel, ready to move to the next place, what should be a straightforward bus ride away.
One thing we hadn’t factored in was that it was Sunday, and not only are all the shops closed, the buses also do not run.
We mentioned this to Benni at the hotel, and his answer…hitch-hiking.
To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement – despite being on a small island, the idea of getting into a stranger’s car seemed crazy. However, Benni assured us it was safe and ‘everyone does it’. I still wasn’t convinced, but Rich was keen and so out on the road we dutifully stuck our thumbs out.
Apparently, rule number 1 of hitch hiking (according to a NZ guide) is ‘be a girl’ and so, Rich decided I would be the person people stopped for, which to me sounded a tad dodgy. Nevertheless, I put on my best ‘please stop for me face’ and sure enough, about 10 minutes later a man in a yute pulled over. A bit of broken french, some pointing on a map and we were on our way.
Our driver was a very friendly chap, a mechanic on his way to work, and Rich kept up a conversation for most of the 15 minutes / 6 mile journey. He dropped us right at our hotel, despite it being out of his way, and in exchange Rich gave him a couple of beers we had picked up in the supermarket.
I think we were very lucky with our hitch hiking experience, but being a wuss, won’t be trying it again in a hurry!
Arriving at our next hotel, it was a scene of chaos. A cruise ship had evidently just unloaded and everyone was trying to check in, despite it only being 11am. We decided that we would let them know we were there, drop our bags off and go and make the most of the pool. This proved to be a good plan, as it was 5 hours before our room was eventually ready!
Our reason for switching hotels was that we were moving to a luxury resort to relax during our short Tahiti stopover. With only 2 days our aim was to top up tans and catch up on our reading rather than fully exploring the island. This hotel was right on the beach and had a lovely infinity pool, and so we were quite happy to have a bit of time to just sit and relax. Given the storm the previous night, the sea was very rough, but there were still a few crazy people out on body boards. We left it until later that afternoon before braving it, but were very glad we did – it was so warm! With waves our over our heads it was a lot of fun too.
Monday 16th March – Rich
Throughout the night I woke occasionally (in the very comfortable bed) thinking that the rain had come back. The windows were rattling and there was a roaring coming from outside. This wasn’t a storm raging though, it was actually the Pacific Ocean on our doorstep. The waves hitting the beach were so strong that it reverberated through the hotel. Throughout our stay here, although the weather was calm the ocean still roared away in the background showing its full force.
Being a cheapskate I didn’t treat Vicki to breakfast in the hotel. Instead I did allow her breakfast in bed however made her earn it (not like that…don’t be rude!). Google Maps told us there was a supermarket nearby-ish so we ran along the coast road to get our baguettes to go with the meat and cheese we had left over from the previous day. This would be an easy 5km run normally however that didn’t factor in either the heat or the hill(s) between us and the supermarket.
The views were worth the climb and a swim in the pool before breakfast returned us to something like a normal temperature. We then spent the rest of the morning relaxing by the pool. In the shade today as we may have had a bit too much sun yesterday.
To fill our afternoon we took the hotel shuttle back to town. As it was a Monday more was open than the day before so we had a nose round the market and a look at some of the main buildings in town. The town is small with not a lot to see however we did appreciate the presidents house and the gardens at the Tahitian territorial assembly. Refreshments in a bar completed our short trip out of the hotel.
Thanks to the delay getting our room yesterday and by befriending Thibault the hotel clerk, we managed to secure a 10pm checkout for a very small fee. With a 2am flight this was appreciated. It wasn’t time to give up our Tahitian luxury at this point as our flight to Easter Island was business class. Although this was due to lack of other seats on this weekly flight rather than our desire to treat ourselves, it was much appreciated. Particularly so when we were all asked to get off the plane shortly after embarking due to a technical issue. Luckily we weren’t off the plane long, and a combination of sleeping in the airport terminal on leather padded benches before the flight then on our lie flat aeroplane beds after the delay meant that arriving in Easter Island at 1pm the next day wasn’t such a trial.
While we didn’t have long in Tahiti or make much effort to explore the island we still enjoyed our time there. What we saw of the island is very impressive and we can see why people like it. The populated coastal areas quickly turn into steep rainforest slopes into the centre of the former volcano. Even without exploring into the exterior you immediately get the sense of the tropical environment from wherever you are. The black sand beach was a real surprise. Tahiti seems to have a mix of black and white sand beaches. Our was the black volcanic variety (used to make black pearls) which looks odd but is still very soft to touch (but gets everywhere). We didn’t get the over ocean, white sand bungalow experience but our roaring ocean, infinity pool relaxation was nothing to be scoffed at. Perhaps one to come back to in the future, particularly since I hear the diving here is excellent.
A quick stopover of 2 days meant Tahiti was a bonus on our trip. Thanks to time travel we had a little extra time however it still felt too soon when we had to reluctantly move on.