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.

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.

Gardening the Tahitian way.

Papeete, on the island of Tahiti, is the small capital city of French Polynesia.

Five years ago when we first arrived in Tahiti on board our yacht Shiraz, our first port of call was to the Papeete harbour. We took one look at the rickety pontoons, noted the road noise, general scruffiness and lack of greenery and moved on. We sailed out of town to the Marina Taina.

Since then the Papeete seafront named “Boulevard Pomare” has under gone a transformation.

The smart Papeete marina with a landscaped promenade was built three years ago.

However, the shopping area across the road from the marina was still a dusty, noisy and unpleasant place to be. This was mainly due to the heavy volume of traffic using the Boulevard Pomare, the main road into Papeete.
The inside lane was used for busses, taxis and as a general drop off area for cars.

In January 2018 a long stretch of the bus lane was fenced off. Then the diggers and construction workers arrived and started to rip up the road.

Slowly areas were developed into an urban garden.

Palm trees were erected and held in place with ropes.

Decorative paving was laid down.

Thatched rest huts were built.

Areas were landscaped using plants rocks and wood features.

The construction work continues but a large stretch of the walkway was unveiled at the weekend, eight months from the start.

It might not have reduced the traffic flow but I think creating this garden boulevard has made a huge improvement. It’s attractive, green and absorbs much of the traffic noise.

Many more projects are proposed at the port and Marina area. I look forward to seeing them materialise.

Heiva fever

We’ve just had the Heiva – Tahiti 2018 competition. The highlight of the year as far as Polynesian dancing goes.

The competition was held in the Place To’ata in Papeete, Tahiti.

Hundreds of people were involved. Groups from around French Polynesia had been training to perfect their dance movements for months.

Rehearsal time in the Place To’ata

It was not just the dancing that was awesome.

The music, choreography and the costume designs were wonderful too.

So many hours had been dedicated by each team member and their families, to produce a mesmerising and enthralling spectacle.

Competition was fierce, I would hate to have been one of the judges.

The heats were held on eight separate evenings over several weeks. Each event started in the dark at 6pm and finished at 11pm.

I went to two of the evening events, the latter being the lauréats or first prize winners.

Heiva is for the Polynesian people but tourists are welcomed . Tourists will always be the quiet observers and should feel honoured, to embrace the flamboyant fever of Heiva.

Traditional power sports. Javelin throwing. Tahiti.

On the 13th July we went to Watch another Heiva Tu’aro Maohi :ancestral sports event. The competitions involved lifting heavy boulders, javelin throwing and shinning up coconut trees.

The event took place in the grounds of the Museum Of Tahiti and the Islands. As we arrived, some traditional dancing was taking place by the museum building.

We went to watch the Vahines (Ladies ) taking part in the boulder lifting competition. The aim of the event, was for the competitor to lift a boulder onto their shoulders. The boulder size increased in the following rounds, until there was a winner.

We cringed as one lady narrowly missed dropping a boulder on her foot.

The javelin competition was incredible. The javelins were homemade and individually marked.

The competitors had to throw their javelins to impale a coconut that had been hoisted high into the air on a long pole.

So many Tanes (men) were successful. Such was the case, that groans went up as an earlier hit was dislodged by another javelin and then crashed to the ground.

After the allotted time period, the coconut was lowered to the ground and inspected. Amazingly, at least 20 javelins were stuck in the coconut. The winning javelin was presented to the judges.

The participants retrieved their javelins ready for another round.

Later on was the coconut tree climbing race. Unfortunately we left before the event, in order to catch the bus home.

Holiday fun in the Paofai Park

Yesterday was yet another bank holiday in Tahiti and the weather was perfect.

When it comes to organising events, the Tahitians are second to none. Families flocked to the Paofai Park in Papeete for a day of fun packed activities which are all free of charge.

People bought bags of oranges on sale from the Punaauia festival of the orange. Oranges are collected from the Tamanu plateau in a gruelling race.

As the sun was sinking over the horizon, a big screen was inflated and families gathered on the grass to watch a cartoon film.

Stages were set up near the beach, where groups of musicians played music in their own individual style.

And of course we had another glorious sunset to enjoy from the park.