Friday, 1 January 2016

Don't even begin to get your head around the time differences...


The last time we wrote we were all feeling very anxious about the air strike in Easter Island.  We all loved Easter Island but only quite realised how isolated it was when we feared to be stuck there for an indefinite time (some of the party were particularly glad as we now knew all 320 or so statues almost intimately)!   However, we were lucky as the air strike stopped the evening before our scheduled departure for Tahiti.  Everyone felt relieved, as it would not have been in order to mess up our schedule.  And so, on 21 December, the nine of us packed into the plane at 1:00 in the morning for a six-hour journey down to Tahiti.  We arrived at 1:20 in the morning and transferred quickly by taxi to the hotel we were to spend the next week in.  A certain amount of tension reigned while the three boys got their sleeping arrangements sorted (thank you Martha for tipping generously a hotel worker who brought a camp bed to allow for each of the boys to have their own bed). 

The hotel was set in an idyllic place on the island.  We had a magnificent view out on the ocean opposite Moorea another one of the Polynesian islands.  We quickly set into a routine of enjoying a huge buffet breakfast (giving us a good idea as to why 60% of the islanders suffer from obesity) followed by swimming, snorkelling or simply lazing at one of the pool areas.  We had planned that this would be our relaxing week after the adventures on the Inca trail and Easter Island.  

Papeete Roulettes
On the second day we took a trip into Papeete, the capital of Tahiti.  It was of course completely out of sync with the hotel we were in and we all discovered a relatively poor city centre with the hustle and bustle of the locals who were selling their wares at the town’s marketplace.  Papeete looks like a city that suffers a lot from poverty and we had a rather sinister sensation that there might be some corruption present too.  The children were disappointed but most probably due to the stark difference they found between their idea of what a city should be like.  We had been advised to visit the “roulottes” to have our dinner.  After a walk around we went to the place of the roulottes beside the sea.  Eight or nine vans were transformed into food vans where lots of different foods were available.  Beside each van there were around 15 tables set.  The idea is to settle at one van and order the food from there.  If some of the party wanted to get food from another van they could do so and then come and join us.  We chose Chinese and the children had burgers or pizza and came to sit with us once the food was ordered.    We all enjoyed the family atmosphere surrounded by many locals.  There weren’t many tourists and we were happy to be sitting and somehow being “part of the family” for the evening.  Over the week we came into town several times to eat more simple food and to escape the idyllic hotel setting.  We spent Christmas there and were very lucky that Santy managed to track us down and deliver stockings for the five children! 

Jelly fish don't seem so bad now...
The Perrier family and John set off on the ferry one day to Moorea, the island opposite Tahiti.  We rented a car and set off to visit the island.  We managed to get a guy to take us out towards the reef so that we could swim with sharks and huge sting rays!  After some initial hesitation from Lucy and myself we joined the boys in the water and it was quite an incredible sensation to swim with these beasts.  The stingrays came rubbing themselves off us as if they were looking for cuddles.  Later on we went out a little further and again went into the water to admire some seven or eight statues that had been settled off the coast by the locals.  In the past the island was dotted with statues to worship the Gods of the time before the protestant missionaries arrived on the island.  When the missionaries began to convert the locals they insisted that the statues be destroyed (plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!!) and they were knocked down and thrown into the sea.  Many years later the locals built these eight statues and planted them off the coast in memory of all the statues that had been destroyed.  We had a lovely day with stunning views and all went back to our hotel in Tahiti feeling satisfied with our day out.   Liam had spent his day diving after earning his divers certificate in cold Irish waters during the months that had preceded our trip. 

Papeete airport - one of the 5 McDonalds in all French Polynesia
We had a lovely relaxing week in Tahiti and were ready to move on when the 28th of December came around.  Bags were packed and we left at 8 am on the morning of 28th.  Six hours later it was midday on the 29th and we had arrived in Auckland, New Zealand.

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