Bruce and Jan

Bruce and Jan
Dancin' Through Life Together

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 8: Tahiti

It was the perfect beginning for a day we have long anticipated...

We got our first glimpse of Tahiti...

 Tahiti - at long last.  We've dreamed of her for most of our lives.  We imagined how romantic she would be.  We planned this trip for 2 years.  And finally, we have arrived.
The town is called Papeete - pronounced Pah-pay-AY-tay.  It's the capital city of the South Pacific paradise, the gateway to the Tahitian islands.  Tahiti is the largest and most populated of the 118 islands and atolls that are associated with the name Tahiti.  The many islands comprise the vast territory of French Polynesia. The post-impressionist painter Paul Gaugin captured Tahiti's timeless beauty and remarkable spirit in vivid color.  [If you've ever been in my downstairs powder room, you've seen one of his works on the wall.]  Authors Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson also found their muse here in this island of enchantment.  Tahiti offers brilliant blue lagoons, jagged cliffs, endless groves of coconut trees, and a hit of gardenia in the air.

Okay, all that was taken from the brochure.  Yeah, right!  We learned a lesson today - don't over-romanticize the islands.  To put it bluntly, Tahiti was a huge disappointment.  And we weren't the only ones who felt that way.  That's been the buzz on board this evening.  I have no idea where they take all the beautiful photos that I've seen, but Tahiti looks nothing like that.  We didn't see any gorgeous beaches, blue lagoons, thatch huts out over the water, or any of that.  Papeete is a city in every sense.  Half of the 120,000 on the island live in Papeete.  It's over-populated with unfriendly people, traffic jams and all.  With it's French influence, everyone smokes.  I didn't smell any gardenias - how could you with all the smoke in the air?

The first thing we did was explore the town.  I had my heart set on buying beautiful pearls here.  But even that was a disappointment.  The pearls looked drab, dull and uninteresting.  Gold and diamonds were priced beyond belief.  So I came away without any jewelry.  I did find a magnet, but that was a real challenge as well.  It's the most expensive magnet I've bought in all our travels.  Bruce enjoyed a local beer.

One thing that will always stand out in my mind about Tahiti is all the stray dogs.  They were everywhere!!  Skinny little things.  It was sad.  It makes me want to move here and open a shelter for them.  Roosters were prevalent, too.  They eat the centipedes.  There are no snakes or poisonous spiders on the islands.

We hadn't signed up for any tours from the ship.  Everything seemed very over priced.  After we had walked around in Papeete for a bit I saw the Dept. of Tourism.  They had a very nice demonstration of music, dancing, local crafts, etc.  There was a tour company next to that with a bus tour around the island.  We paid 1/3 the price of the ship's tour for the same thing.  We went to the other side of the island to see the big waterfall which included a hike through the forest.  We were supposed to see the blow hole, but it was pouring rain and they said it wasn't safe to stop there.
We saw the place where Capt. Cook first landed which houses a light house and is by a black sand beach.  It was still misting and the pictures aren't very impressive.  Bruce has a theory about the Mutiny of the Bounty.  The sailors didn't fall in love with the island, but with the women.  There certainly wasn't anything exceptionally beautiful about the spot where they landed.

I also had an expectation that I would have some kind of deja vu experience or something.  Nada again.  Bruce didn't, either.

So, I guess I'm glad we got to see Tahiti after we fantasized over it for years.  We have the "braggin' rights".  But I sure wouldn't go out of my way to return here.  There are so many other places that I thought were spectacular - like St. Thomas, Oahu, Kuaui, and Aruba.  But I believe my favorite place of all remains Cabo San Lucas. 

Tomorrow we will be at the neighboring island of Moorea.  We have no preconceived notion about it, so we'll probably love it.  It sure can't be any worse...

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