Reflections

American dream in Tahiti.

There was a thunderous noise outside the marina yesterday. So much for the local churches asking for silence on a Sunday. Police vehicles with blue flashing lights closed off the road.It turned out to be an event for the owners of American motorbikes and American Jeeps. Both of which made a huge amount of noise when in action.

Once the vehicles were parked on display outside the marina, there was a blissful silence. It lasted all afternoon.

Unlike the vast USA, Tahiti is a tiny island. Papeete the main town, is already struggling to cope with traffic congestion. Although fun for some, and they definitely drew a lot of attention at the event, I wonder if these gas guzzling, noise polluting modes of transport have a place here on the island.

An excellent band belted out classic American hits from the seventies whilst children and youths practiced bicycle stunts.

Others watched the experienced trick bike team fly up a ramp, spin their BMX bikes and land on a huge inflated airbag.

I discovered that BMX means bicycle motocross, it’s an off road sports bicycle used for racing and stunt riding. BMX started in the early 1970s when children began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in Southern California inspired by the motocross stars.

So the good old Stars and Stripes won over the locals for the afternoon.
With screeching tyres and roaring exhausts the jeeps and motorcycles disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

A short time later the police reopened the road to the normal traffic.

Farmers dilemma

I read in the news that “France will declare a state of natural disaster after rain and hail storms lashed a swathe of the south-east on Saturday, devastating crops”

In Tahiti, I was bimbling round the Papeete local fruit and vegetable market last week. Chatting to a stall holder, I mentioned that prices appeared to have gone up for things like cucumbers and tomatoes. He told me that everything was growing really well, then suddenly for no apparent reason the cucumber and pepper plants just died.

Sunday was the farmers market. I noticed that there were quite a lot of cucumbers but no tomatoes or peppers.

Another stall holder said not much is growing at the moment but they didn’t know why. May is usually a productive month for produce here. I wondered if there had been bad weather in Tahiti whilst we were away on holiday in Oregon.

During our visit to Oregon, we were shopping in Safeways. A lady was promoting Oregon Solidarity wine. It was a heart warming story.
After an order for $4 million worth of grapes was canceled citing smoke-tainted grapes, local winemakers stepped up and used them anyway.

Read more about it in the link below.

https://www.oregonsolidarity.com

We had experienced large areas on fire as we drove through California and Oregon on a previous trip last October. The smoke certainly carried in the wind for miles and the effects on agriculture were devastating. However, tests were made on the grapes and they did not prove to be smoke damaged.

We of course thoroughly enjoyed our bottle of Oregon Solidarity wine.

I’m left wondering what and when the knock on effect will be for us in French Polynesia, if the vineyards in France have been badly affected.

Invasion

Whilst enjoying a live gig in the Place To’ata Stadium in Tahiti, John nudged me.

Not only did we have an excellent view of the stage from our seats but we also had a commanding view of the Papeete Port. A large cruise ship was docking on the Paqu Dock next to the marina.

This year, there have been more cruise ships visiting French Polynesia than ever before. The “tick box” locations are Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti.
Over the Easter holiday between Sunday April 21st and Monday April 29th, five “Grand capacity” cruise ships with more than 2000 passengers on board, arrived in the Port of Papeete. These large cruise ships are floating cities. There were also a number of smaller cruise ships visiting the port, some of which are based in Tahiti.

Prior to the Easter splurge of cruise ship passengers, the Minister of Tourism headed a meeting with representatives from all the organisations involved with the cruise ship industry to ensure that the hosting was successful. There were a lot of people at the meeting. It seemed like every top official from Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea was there as well as representatives from all the town organisations. It was a gathering to behold.

So, before the passengers purchase their pearls and souvenirs.

Or are entertained by musicians and dancers.

Or take an excursion around the island

Think of all the people who made their visit possible.
The Port authority employees whose tugs and pilot boat bring the ships into port, with line handlers to take the lines.

Customs and immigration clearance before anyone can step ashore.

Reprovisioning of supplies and refuelling.

Waste removal and cleaning .

Security, traffic policing.

The coaches and taxis.

There are the floral decorators who make the town look bright and welcoming.

Then of course there’s all the administration that goes on behind the scenes.

I’m sure the cruise ship passengers enjoy their experience. No doubt the tourist industry profits from their visit and help to boost the economy.

Street Artist in action.

The last few days have been hot and sunny in Tahiti and I am optimistic that the improvement in the weather heralds the end of the cyclone season. The last few weeks however, held a mixed bag of hot humid weather, heavy rain, thunder, lightning, interspersed with some cloudless sunshine.
Spare a thought for Fintan Magee a famous Australian Street artist.

He was tasked was creating a massive street mural on the side of a block of flats overlooking a car park in Papeete. With what must have been months of preparation, the first brushes of paint were applied to the wall around the 14th March right in the midst of the foul weather.

The artist worked long hours every day until the mural was finished.


When I asked him what was the theme of his mural, he said “Love”
The project was completed with Fintan Magee’s signature on the 21st March. I hope he was pleased with the results. I thought it was rather amazing.
How blessed we are in Tahiti, to have such dedicated artists, who create all these wonderful masterpieces for everyone to enjoy.

Cross

We’ve had a lot of rain so far this February in Tahiti . When the weather improves, I like to get out and about for exercise.
One sunny clear day, I headed in land on my electric bike called Vertigo. I wanted to find a landmark large cross high up on the hill side. This area is said to have a great view of the port of Papeete and the distant Island of Moorea.
I checked my Google map and set off. The road narrowed with a steep incline, there were only a handful of private properties by now. Turning a corner, I met a set of teeth belonging an alsatian dog who had his barking brother along for support. At the same time the lace on my left trainer wrapped around the bike pedal. Cursing my stupidity, I shouted a few pleasantries in dulcet tones to the dogs. Dropping my right foot to the ground to support the weight of me and the electric bike, I was able to wriggle my left foot out of the trainer. I propped the bike up on it’s stand and disentangled the lace from the pedal. Once I had composed myself, I remembered the dogs. One was sitting down facing the other way, whilst the barker sniffed a shrub and wandered off.
I backtracked and realised that I was on the wrong road and should have been on the road running parallel to this one.
Now on the correct tarmac road, it terminated at a bridge over a small river. A rough concrete road continued but my Google map told me that once over the bridge, I had to turn off to the left. Hmm it looked like a rough track.

I asked a gentleman who was gardening on the other side of the bridge for directions.
He enthusiastically pointed to the rough track which was clearly unsuitable for my type of bike. He generously suggested that I locked my bike behind his property whilst I hiked up the track.

I was surprised to see many depictions of Christ on his crucifixion route as I followed the trail.

I’m somewhat ignorant when it comes to religious matters but I did learn more about it from John who attended Redrice Catholic school even though he’s not a clan member.
Known as “The stations of the Cross” there are 14 images.

There was lush vegetation in the valley and hillside. Eventually I reached the area where the cross was erected.

There was indeed a wonderful panoramic view of Papeete and the distant Island of Moorea. I spent some time there.

A few joggers arrived from another direction, so presumably there are a number of routes to this look out place.

I however took the same route back to retrieve my bike. The gentleman was evidently looking out for me. I declined the offer of refreshments but thanked him profusely for letting me leave the bike in his garden.
As I cycled back to the marina, I thought to myself, what a pleasant little adventure I’d had.

Papeete Marina 2018

2018 was a busy year in the Papeete marina in Tahiti. It’s interesting hearing people’s stories. A flow of boats, which were mainly yachts, arrived from North America, South America and from the Caribbean via the Panama canal. Many passed through Tahiti continuing a western route to places like New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Some travel in the opposite direction, having pounded against the wind and current. More yachties than ever have taken advantage of the fact that a foreign registered boat can remain in French Polynesian waters for three years as a yacht in transit. This allows ample opportunities, to explore the vast area that makes up French Polynesia.

It hasn’t always been a happy time. For some people, ill health has shattered dreams, forcing the sale of yachts. Yachts have returned to the marina dismasted.

Others have hit coral reefs causing damage below the water line. A yacht based in the marina hit a container and sank, so never made it back. The owner was airlifted to safety.
One man sailed back to the marina from the Tuamotus where his wife had drowned.
Yachts have been towed into the marina and out of the marina with broken engines or steering problems.

It certainly focuses the mind. There is no room for complacency as a sailor.

Being in the heart of the city, the Papeete marina has become the obvious place to touch base on arrival or to return to for reprovisioning and repairs.

After a time at sea, hot showers, washing machines and the use of the Wi-Fi in the air conditioned marina sitting room, are greatly appreciated. Most boats are plugged into the electrics and potable water on their pontoon berth. The marina staff are happy to collect the marina fees.

It’s pretty normal to see someone high up on their mast or deep down in the bowels of their boat trying to fix a problem.

Washing, cleaning and provisioning are on going chores.

Many yachties zip around town on fold up bikes. Dinghies are usually redundant in the marina but often require attention.

Unfortunately, over the course of the year, there have been a spate of burglaries from a number of boats in the Papeete marina. Large boats and small have been targeted. No one has been caught.

The last group of five yachts left the marina on the 3rd of January this year. The boats were loaded onto a yacht transporter, an increasingly popular option for long haul sailing, if you can afford it!

This year, 2019, the marina building complex is being expanded. The area has been fenced off and construction work is underway. It will be interesting to see the results.