Weaving through the crowded streets of Papeete today, armed with my baguette, I cross the Parc Bougainville and head back to the Marina.
Ha, how times have changed since Admiral Louise – Antoine De Bougainville‘s days. He was an interesting French chap. Having battled alongside Napoleon against the Brits, he then took to the sea again and became the first French explorer to circumnavigate the world with naturalists and geographers aboard two ships. A bit of a scandal here. Botanist Philbert Commercon had a valet to look after him on board. She was Jeanne Baret his mistress and fellow botanist, however, she had to disguise as a man. Jeanne became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. The pair of them named a flowering plant which they collected in Rio de Janeiro and called it Bougainvillea after their boss. The vibrant flowers reflect the vibrant past.
Bougainville liked Tahiti. He must have been pretty cross to find that a Brit called Wallis discovered Tahiti first. However, he wrote a travel log and the best bit was Tahitian society, describing it as “an earthly paradise where men and women lived in blissful innocence, far from corruption of civilisation”
I dash across the road at the crossing, dodging the vehicles reluctant to stop. It’s a non stop flow of traffic.
I wonder what the great Admiral’s travel log on Tahitian society would say today for his not so earthly paradise. However, the flowers remain vibrant and so does the modern Tahitian society.