The ship docked in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, a busy little city being the primary center of government, commercial, industrial and financial services. There are 119 islands in FP with a total population of 280,000. 200,000 live on Tahiti.
French and Polynesian are the two main languages. The ties to France are strong as France provides funding for schools, medical coverage, and roads. The Polynesians have dual citizenship with France and many young people go to France for more advanced university studies.
I expected Tahiti to be touristy with big hotels and was pleasantly surprised that it is not. Our tour covered about 1/3 of the island along the coast and we saw only a few small hotels. The locals live mostly in one story bungalows with nice sized lots. They don’t sell their houses or land, instead passing them from one generation to the next.
There are only 13 letters in the Polynesian alphabet and all vowels are pronounced as a separate syllable. For instance, the name of the international airport is Faa’a but has three syllables and is pronounced Fah-ah-ah.
Each of us was given a very fragrant flower to put behind our ear as we disembarked. The Polynesian women really do wear these colorful dresses every day – I always thought they were for show. The different patterns are just beautiful and the cotton is fine and light. We went into a fabric store and I was tempted to purchase some but cannot sew very well.
Behind the tour busses is the very center of Papeete. Unfortunately we didn’t have good weather and after a while it became completely overcast with rain off and on. Supposedly August and September are the driest months. The rainy season begins in November and for several months is unbearably humid and hot. It was pretty comfortable for us on this day.
Our tour took us from Papeete in the north to Taravao on the southeast part of Tahiti Nui. Our tour guide, Tracy, was excellent. She is originally from England but married a Polynesian 25 years ago. We first went to the Museum of Tahiti and learned about the culture and history of the islands.
Next was Marae Arahurahu, considered to be one of the region’s most significant ancient temples.
Part of our tour included a visit to the private gardens of this lady and her husband. This was an amazing property on the ocean. The owner never introduced herself but she showed us many trees and flowers and focused on their medicinal uses.
The husband is originally from Great Britain and sailed here in the 1960’s. His boat broke down and while waiting for parts he met his wife, above. They have a well known restaurant on the island which must be very successful to afford this property. The home and gardens was originally built by the English writer, Robert Keibel.
The bit of land you see across the water is Tahiti Iti.
This fruit called Noni is supposedly good for snoring.
Looking in through the double wide doors that opened to the pool and ocean
We were all given some tastes of fruits grown in the gardens. The purple one is a type of apple where you don’t eat the peeling because it’s impossible to chew up and swallow. I know.
Tahiti has flowers growing everywhere. I wonder what the difference is in the climate to Puerto Vallarta because although there are many flowers there, Tahiti has so many more. There are also fruit trees everywhere you look and many locals have fruit stands in front of the houses.
It was raining at the Mara’a Fern Grotto Caves. The water is a beautiful emerald green.
Sailing away from Tahiti. Next stop Moorea.