Heiva o te

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.

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.

Beautiful Dumpsters.

Last Friday 8th February, I just happened to be cycling past the cruise ship part of the Papeete Port and noticed that a load of brightly painted skips (dumpsters) now occupied the coach parking area. Colourful lights were being erected to highlight them all. With my love of Street Art, I had to find out more.

I’ve often seen a few interesting skips, painted with street art, delivered to the dock when a cruise ship visits. Rubbish is chucked into the skips, which are lifted up on to the lorry base and driven away. Five painted skips have been in use since 2015.

16 new skips arrived and the Tahitian Society of Public Sectors (TSP) entrusted them to artists of the Hamani Lab in Tahiti to paint as part of the Urban Care Project. Artists, Abuze, Cronos, Ennio, HTJ and Komosulo gave the skips a makeover. The idea was to highlight a new generation of artists as well as changing the professional image of waste collection.
The TSP, in collaboration with the Port Authority of Papeete, presented the artists’ work on the platform of honour at the Vai’ete Square next to the Cruise Ship Dock. We went along to admire the creative artwork.
I loved the results.

The artists took the opportunity to exhibited their most recent works.

Since the presentation event, I’ve been playing “Spot the Skip” around Papeete. So far I have seen four in action at the Port.

Straight after the presentation, a cruise ship arrived and two of the new skips were in use.

I think it’s a great idea.

A weekend swim.

In Tahiti we’ve had squally weather and angry seas for a few weeks now. We desperately want to sail across to Moorea and drop the hook for a swim in a blue lagoon but there seems little point when the water is murky.

I decided to get my swim fix at the Papeete municipal swimming pool . On arrival, I handed over my 600xpf and assured the friendly Vahine that I did have my compulsory swim hat. I noticed that there were a few nemo cartoon hats behind the desk, so assumed that anyone without a hat would be loaned one. There was only one man wearing a nemo hat as I entered the water.

The pool is 50 metres long and is divided up into swim lanes.

Lifeguards are on duty.

School lessons take place in term time midweek. Being a Saturday, people were there to keep fit. The seaside is for messing around in the water, not this pool.

The swimming pool is situated near to the Port of Papeete.

Initially I had a lane to myself. A young lady in a pink hat with a mild screw kick joined me. In an anticlockwise direction we swam at roughly the same speed passing at the 25 metre point. I noticed that she changed strokes to front crawl but with her arms thrashing about like the scythes of Boudicea’s chariot. Turning at the end of the pool, I spotted the reason for her antics. Stood pondering, was a large man in small trunks. Was he going to dominate our lane or move on? With great comradery I remembered that I could do butterfly. Our tactics worked and the gentleman went elsewhere. I suppressed my laughter with a splutter, causing the lifeguard to scrutinise me as a potential drowning victim. I guess my silver hat didn’t help, I was probably the oldest person in the pool but not old enough to get in for free.

I felt energised after my swim. As an added bonus, because it was cloudy, I didn’t have the usual sunburnt face with panda eyes from wearing my goggles. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Who knows, this might even be a Banksy on the outside wall of the swimming pool.

Yachtlings

With the sun lowering in the sky, it took a few moments to see the three little yachtlings emerge from the super yacht.

They fluttered their sails and after a few tense moments were ripping over the water.

And racing.

Competition was fierce, egged on by the yacht crew whose laughter filled the air.

As light was fading, they really had the hang of sailing.

I hope they made it back to the safety of their mother ship.

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.