Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 30th – Paradise Lost in Papeete?

As we sailed towards Tahiti's capital, Papeete, last night, we were treated to a wonderful performance of singing and dancing by a local Tahitian group. Looking at those beautiful women doing their sensuous dancing, you could see just why Fletcher Christian and his fellow Mutineers didn't want to leave paradise to return to rainy old England.

It makes you wonder what decision Christian would have come to yesterday, if he'd (like us) walked into the sweaty concrete jungle that is modern Papeete, just as the heavens opened. With its traffic and its collection of rather unattractive scruffy modern buildings, Papeete is a long way from being the tropical paradise that most people imagine.

As the rain started, we headed to the town's best feature, its colourful market, where the goods were exotic and the people friendly. However, the prices were so high, that it makes you wonder how the ordinary Tahitian can afford to survive. With the rain really hammering down, we decided to cut our losses and return to the ship.

After lunch, there was a break in the clouds, so we ventured out for a hike along the coast. Unfortunately, Papeete sprawls a lot further back than it initially seemed, so mainly we were walking along mainly scruffy residential roads – as ever, the people were overwhelmingly friendly, which is perhaps Papeete's greatest asset. We eventually reached a beach, but it was hardly the stuff of a Gaugin masterpiece – black volcanic sand, and lots of washed up rubbish.

This was all proof that to see the best of Tahiti, you really need to have some transport to get out of the city limits – if you want verdant landscapes of waterfalls and mountains, or stunning coastlines of swaying palms and blue lagoons, Tahiti can supply all this - you just need to get out of Papeete.