Day 31 of lock down in Tahiti : Up one to 56 cases with one still in hospital. Hugely disappointing after six days of no change.
Music is the heart and soul of French Polynesia, particularly the Ukelele. Every day someone would be on a street corner singing and strumming along or hoping to sell their instruments. Not during lock down. I miss the vibrance but I’m sure the music will return. No doubt the JW will still be around. Meanwhile on my walk, I felt so sorry for the neighbours in an apartment block, someone was in the early stages of trumpet lessons, the painful noise will drive them mad. Speaking of driving, now would be a good time to start driving lessons. Empty roads in the city, perfect but the instructor would have to sit in the back on the opposite side.
For months there’s been talk and speculation of a new fast Aremiti ferry replacing the old one which shuttles between Moorea and Tahiti.
The Aremiti 5 has for the last 15 years provided transportation primarily for workers and school pupils, between Moorea and Papeete, the capital of Tahiti.
With three rotations a day, it was quite a fast service taking about 45 minutes dock to dock.
People were quite emotional at the thought of loosing their old ferry. It held memories of their school days. Some travelled daily, getting up at the crack of sparrows and getting home late, others were weekly boarders.
Complete with boom boxes the teenagers gather at the ferry dock for their trip home.
The new Aremiti 6 described as the jewel of the Degage Group was built in the Austal shipyard in the Philippines. Without much fanfare, it arrived in Papeete on the 26th August, did a few spins, then tied up longside the container dock.
There was a bit of controversy over tax duty and competition with the Terevau Vodafone ferry but once sorted, it was ready for action.
The new ferry can carry up to 550 passengers plus 5 cars or 30 two wheelers, which is the same as the Aremiti 5.
Boasting a faster and more efficient service, the Aremiti 6 is under pressure to perform.
With 7 rotations a day, it must rotate between the two islands in 25 minutes. This includes embarkation, the channel crossing and disembarkation.
I wondered how they could achieve this without breaking the Port control speed limits of 5 knots.
The sea was a bit rough for the inaugural crossing on Friday September 6th. An enthusiastic traveller noted that the first channel crossing from the Papeete pass to the Moorea pass took just 18 minutes.
On Monday 9th September the Aremiti 6 went into service leaving at 5am from Moorea, where it is now based.
The last trip of the day is at 17.30 from Tahiti.
From the start, it was pretty obvious that this new high speed service would be problematic. In the Papeete marina, we are shaken in our beds as the yachts rock and roll at 5.30 am heralding the arrival of Aremiti 6. We are rolled around by the huge wake as the ferry storms into its loading dock, breaking the Port’s 5 knot limit by as much as 10 knots. It might be a great new experience for the Aremiti 6 crew and passengers but it won’t be long before the flimsy marina pontoons fall apart. The marina staff have made a complaint to the Port authorities after just two days in service.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.
Meanwhile, we say a little farewell to the Aremiti 5. Her last emotional trip was on the 8th September.
Unfortunately there are no buyers, we hope she won’t be left to rot at the Papeete ferry Dock.
Recently on a bright sunny day, we decided to have a change of scenery and visit Moorea which is Tahiti’s little sister Island.
Along with our bikes, we boarded the ‘Aremiti 2’ ferry from the Papeete ferry terminal in Tahiti. It’s a short journey, taking less than an hour.
I was pleased to have “Vertigo” my electric bike. The first challenge of getting up the steep ferry ramp was made easy, I felt quite chuffed that I didn’t have to push it up there.
John’s a fit cyclist, who speeds along on his road bike, so I was able to set a reasonable pace along the road on Vertigo.
We stopped at various places to admire the beautiful sea view. We have anchored our yacht around some of these areas.
It was lovely to join local families and bathe in the warm, clear water. Quiet and peaceful it was not. We had picked a day when the holiday kids club was organising a trip to Moorea as well. The air was filled with joyous shouts and laughter of the youngsters enjoying their day out. Wonderful to hear.
After a lovely day, we peddled back to the ferry. On the return crossing, over 200 young children were singing their hearts out. It was delightful singing. The children’s faces lit up as they were each handed a small cake by the group organisers. It’s the little things in life that make me smile. I thought it was all rather lovely.
The Day of Autonomy or locally called ‘Heiva o te’ is an official holiday in French Polynesia, an overseas collective of France. It’s celebrated on the 29th June every year to honour Tahitian and French Polynesian self rule. This year was the 35th anniversary of independence of 1984.
Big celebrations were held all day and evening in Papeete, the capital town of Tahiti.
Many dignitaries gave speeches.
In the afternoon a huge procession involving over 11,500 people representing 150 French Polynesian organisations, paraded down the Pouvanaa’a Oopa Avenue cheerfully waving their banners.
Late afternoon there was a festive programme on the waterfront, in the beautiful gardens of the Paofi Parc. The Parc was packed with people relaxing, picnicking and having fun.
I loved the hats and floral headbands, people had made such an effort on this special occasion.
Children’s play activities.
There were acoustic parties
An open air cartoon film would start when dark at 6pm.
At 8pm there was a fireworks display over the Papeete harbour.
After such a busy programme, I expect there were some very tired families the next day.
We have just had the annual FIFO film festival 02-10 February 2019. Venue : La Maison de la Culture in Papeete, Tahiti.
Described as :
“A Festival with a thousand faces, the FIFO once more offers a remarkable program: 14 films in competition, 26 non competing films, projections, meetings, workshops and other surprises await you in the FIFO village. With its debut in 2018, this year the Fenêtre-sur-courts films selection proposes 11 short documentaries that offer an alternative view of Oceanian lives..”
This popular international festival has captivated a large public audience all week. For 1000 xpf (10$) you can spend a whole day and evening watching cultural films and documentaries contributed by many Pacific Islands from vast Australia to tiny Kiribati .
I went on the final day to see the winning films and documentaries.
In the morning I was in the Grand Theatre and afternoon in the Little theatre. There were some excellent films but the experience is quite exhausting.
I spent 90 minutes on the edge of my seat, watching a documentary about a group of research scientists diving at night with hundreds of sharks in the Fakarava South Pass in the Tuamotus French Polynesia. The filming was fantastic but graphic. We have dived with those sharks in the daytime in the Fakarava pass. Had I realised how they feed at night there’s no way I would have done that. As the film ended, I had broken out into a sweat despite the freezing cold air conditioning. I decided to miss the last film and headed back to the marina. All in all it had been a brilliant day at the FIFO film festival.
We recently spent a week on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). I would say that “It’s a small island with lots of big stuff.”
As lover of flowers, I got a real wow factor from the size of the hibiscus and poinsettias. The flower heads were truly huge.
Even our Lei garlands, presented as a welcome at the airport, were rather grand.
On route to the famous Rano Kau crater
We hiked through a meadow of flowers creating the impression of stepping through an enormous deep pile yellow carpet.
The trees created a striking canopy of orange flowers.
All in all the flora was rather lovely.
Many large dogs roam around the island. The’re wild but friendly. They chase cattle, horses and cars,. Consequently, many of them have broken limbs. On a 23km coastal hike from Anakena to the town of Hanga Roa, we had our personal pack of five stray dogs to keep us company all the way.
We spotted many birds of prey on our coastal hike.
The coast line was rugged with waves crashing over the rocks.
I was pleased that we arrived by air not sea. The few visiting yachts seemed to be having a rough time, seeking a safe anchorage.
Of course Rapa Nui is famous for its cultural, archaeological and historical legacy.
I can’t include enough photos to do the place justice. You will have to go and visit.
The most unexpected discovery of the holiday was the elaborate bells played loudly on the Catholic Church clock. The church was just up the road from our accommodation in Hanga Roa. It probably drives the locals mad but I was fascinated.
Despite the fact that we arrived from Tahiti where the Polynesians love their traditional dancing, we enjoyed an evenings entertainment watching a dance show in the town.
We had a brilliant week. Rapa Nui offered us far more than just the famous Moai.
Opening events with pomp and ceremony are part of the role you play as the President of French Polynesia.
You arrive as the President: the Country’s major VIP. You and your entourage are welcomed. The traditional greetings continue as you are escorted along the route to the stage, where you will say a few words. No one wants long speeches.
A bit like the shock of the unknown in a ghost train, serious women in bright clothing spring out in front of you. They chant and sing. A man throws baby powder into the air.
It’s all too much. You try to suppress your amusement. Your shoulders start to shake. You give up and burst into laughter, singing along with the women.
You recompose yourself in time to cut the tape of tiare flowers.
This is a happy occasion and everyone is relaxed.
The event from the 3rd to 6th May in the Place To’ata, Papeete, Tahiti is the:
“This week show us your interpretation of prolific“
Pearls, pearls, pearls.
They call them “Black Pearls” because they are produced by the black-lip pearl oyster but they come in different colours.
Papeete is the small capital city of French Polynesia. It is on the main island of Tahiti. Everywhere you look, there are shops selling black pearls. Many of them are outlets for the Pearl farmers from different islands or atolls in French Polynesia.
So many shops sell pearl jewellery .
Some displays are better than others
Easter /Spring theme
This shop’s a bit cluttered.
Market traders sell low quality pearls.
The pearls are graded for quality.
The Tuamotus are said to produce the best quality pearls. The oysters thrive in the pristine waters of the remote atolls. However, the farmers of the society islands claim that they are the ones that culture the finest pearls.
Some pearls cost a fortune.
Phew, just for one pearl.
I could buy a new dinghy and outboard motor for that price.
As I wandered around the Pearl shops yesterday, I came across two lovely ladies working upstairs in the market. They sell the cheaper quality pearls and their display is crammed in amongst the cleaning stuff. But for all that, they were marvellous fun to chat with. I didn’t buy any pearls but they insisted on photographing me wearing an enormous pearl necklace.
Fun to chat to these ladies.
Machine used to make the holes through the Pearls
There are other types of pearls. Keshi pearls are small non-nucleated pearls typically formed as by-products of pearl cultivation. I love them.
Other jewellery is made from the pearly oyster shells. These fetch good prices as well.
Incidentally the Robert Wan Pearl Museum is the world’s only museum dedicated to pearls. It is located here in Papeete.
All was calm in the marina this morning, no swell. The Muscovy Duck was catching a few rays of sunshine and appeared dry and relaxed. Breakfast was prepared and ready for us to eat in the cockpit but John had disappeared. I thought it a bit weird that he should choose that moment to spray WD40 on his bikes which are secured near the marina gate.
Moments later I was presented with a rose and a bouquet of local grown flowers from the market. Today is Valentines Day. John admitted to being embarrassed about buying Valentine flowers. I had made one of my card creations for John, not a fair exchange really but it was made with love.
Valentines day can be a cruel day. The teenage school girls in Tahiti are demonstrative with their newly presented roses and often look smug rather than smitten. I’ve seen girls purchasing their own roses from the local garage, glancing quickly around to check that no one in their peer group has noticed. Such is the pressure.
Having purchased a baguette a couple of hours later, I noticed that the flower sellers in the market were having a field day. Men young and old seemed shy and embarrassed as they make their choice of bouquet. Token gesture or completely over the top, what message should they give.
On closer observation I was happy to note that families old and young bought flowers too.
I don’t want to be too harsh on the concept of Valentines Day but I loathe the fact that it has become another commercial gimmick. How could you possibly approve of a bunch of flowers containing an inflated Chinese helium balloon. So bad for the environment.