Four Countries In Four Days

Sitting on a plane for 12+ hours from Auckland to Los Angeles was not an option for us and there are not many good alternatives.  But there was one flight with a connection and layover in Tahiti of 22 hours. Our flight from New Zealand arrived in Tahiti at 12:30 am, 22 1/2 hours before we left due to our crossing the International Dateline. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to walk off the plane into the warm and balmy night. On top of that we were entertained by ukulele musicians and a dancer plus being presented with a bottle of Tiare moisturizer. What a great welcome at such a late hour!

Directly across the street is the airport hotel that we planned to walk to but couldn’t because it was so late that the storage locker room was closed for the night and there was no way to get everything we had with us up the steep hill.  So we took the shortest taxi ride ever.

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TahitiNov21 110Nice views from our hotel room of the airport and Moorea.

For some reason we couldn’t get to sleep until 3 am and then woke up at 6:30.  Check out time was 11 am and we considered paying extra to have a late checkout so that we could be better rested for the 10 pm overnight flight to Los Angeles.  But since it is unlikely we will ever go back to Tahiti we decided to tough it out.  We got up and had the hotel’s continental breakfast, checked out but stored our luggage at the hotel, walked across the street and rented a car to drive the two lane 114 km/72 mile highway that circles the island. November is the beginning of the rainy season for Tahiti and when it becomes hotter and more humid.  Luck was on our side for a beautiful day, one of the very few without rain before and after our arrival. The airport is about 5 miles from the capital of Papeete and we first drove into the city to drive the island clockwise.  However, I would recommend a counter clock wise route to be on the same side of the road as the ocean. It’s a very busy city as the majority of the population lives there and it is the only real town of any size on the island.  We didn’t have a map other than the tourist brochure map that we got when our cruise ship docked back in September. All it noted was the road around the island with the tourist sites along the way. There was no choice but to muddle our way through Papeete.

TahitiNov21 5Naturally we got lost but soon came to a complex of pretty buildings so we parked the car.  There was a big wrought iron gate but a side door was open so I walked in. A guard stopped me right away and said I shouldn’t be there. When I asked what building this was he said it was the President’s Palace. Oh! He was very nice and let me take some pictures and one of him too. Interesting that he was the one and only guard seen.  Evidently the president here doesn’t have to worry about his safety very much.

TahitiNov21 11We finally got to the outskirts of the other side of Papeete and took a wrong turn and ended up in the parking lot of this college. The sky looks stormy in many of these pictures but it never rained on us. Actually the agent at the car rental told us the east side of the island would have very bad weather and for us to just stay on the west side.  I’m glad we didn’t listen.

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There were several stops for construction where the hillsides are being terraced to prevent rock and mudslides

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There was a sign for three waterfalls and we turned off on this road. There is only one road that crosses the interior of Tahiti and it requires 4 wheel drive.  Otherwise, there are mostly spur roads off the circle highway that soon come to a dead-end because of the mountains.

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This is a very tall waterfall that drops into the small pool but I couldn’t capture it all. There were also two more waterfalls, however because of strong rains the day before the path was dangerous as rocks were still falling off the hills.  Actually there was a chain across a bridge at the start of the path to this waterfall but we climbed over it.

TahitiNov21 32The walk is very pretty along side a stream

TahitiNov21 38There were a few houses near the waterfall and like many homes, there was a table in the front with produce. We bought two bananas for our lunch.

TahitiNov21 37Friendly and attractive children

TahitiNov21 43TahitiNov21 47Tahiti-iti is a fat tail like appendage off the southeast side of the main part of Tahiti. There is no road going all the way around so we just drove down one side.

TahitiNov21 50Not a good picture but wanted to show you how there are so many waterfalls with pools at the bottom. The Tahitians love to swim and were having a good time here with music and the little ones climbed to the top of the falls and slid down into the pool.

TahitiNov21 52The mountains in the interior came in and out of the clouds constantly. As far as I know, there are no towns inland.

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TahitiNov21 55TahitiNov21 56 There are many very small beach areas but I never saw any wide and long beaches that you would imagine Tahiti might have.

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A driveway leading to the Paul Gaugin Museum was pretty but the museum was closed – seemingly for good. There is an attractive looking botanical garden next to it but it is also closed.

TahitiNov21 71We had gone on a tour in September to the Vaipahi Botanical Gardens in the rain so we had to visit once more on this fine day.

TahitiNov21 74TahitiNov21 85TahitiNov21 93Typical small neighborhood on a spur road

TahitiNov21 98TahitiNov21 99There are always people walking and riding on little motor scooters or bicycles to share the road with. The speed limit on the circle road is only 60 km/36 mph but everyone drives faster.

TahitiNov21 107Every community has a pretty little church

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What a wonderful layover and I would do it again.  Our Air Tahiti flight left at 10 pm for the 8 hour flight to Los Angeles where we picked up a rental car for the drive to Yuma, Arizona. Our dog Molly has been cared for by a friend who also let us keep our motor home in her yard. But Molly could care less about us anymore.  I am having to bribe her to get her to visit for just a few minutes in the motor home.  She will come around eventually and for now is just punishing us which she does every time we leave her.

We wasted no time entering the border town of Algodones in Mexico for what was our fourth country in four days.  Steve went to the dentist, got a haircut and we had lunch.  After being gone for three months, there is a lot to do and we are busy every day.  Then it is on a ship again to leave for Hawaii very soon. What a life!!


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.

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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.

2014 09 10Tahiti 12Behind 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.

2014 09 10Tahiti 17Our 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.

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Next was Marae Arahurahu, considered to be one of the region’s most significant ancient temples.

2014 09 10Tahiti 42Part 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.

2014 09 10Tahiti 47The 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.

2014 09 10Tahiti 52The bit of land you see across the water is Tahiti Iti.

2014 09 10Tahiti 542014 09 10Tahiti 55This fruit called Noni is supposedly good for snoring.

2014 09 10Tahiti 58Looking in through the double wide doors that opened to the pool and ocean

2014 09 10Tahiti 59We 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.

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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.

2014 09 10Tahiti 77It was raining at the Mara’a Fern Grotto Caves.  The water is a beautiful emerald green.

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Sailing away from Tahiti. Next stop Moorea.