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.

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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.

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.

Wet and windy weekend.

We battened down the hatches on Shiraz ready to brave out the lousy weather which was forecast for the weekend.

Many boats left the Papeete marina with the knowledge that a North westerly swell can reek havoc here. John spent hours on the computer reviewing the weather forecast information. We decided, with a handful of other boats, to stay.

Saturday night saw squalls with winds of up to 39 knots and it hammered down with rain. But, as John had predicted, the swell wasn’t too bad.

Sunday morning I went out on the bike to look around. At the mouth of the river, muddy water flowed into the sea carrying with it tree trunks and a semi submerged fridge.

The pass to the Papeete port remained open so the ferry service to Moorea remained on schedule. The locals are used to rolling around on the ferries but I expect there were a few green looking, sea sick tourists because it was very rough.

A few hardy va’a people had been out in the brown sea.

Despite the amount of rain on the ground, the burly Tahitian man was doing his daily leaf blowing job. I think the leaves were stuck firmly to the ground but he was jovial and gave me the chakkers.

Today the weather is hot and sunny. The yachts have returned to the marina.

I’ve done the washing. We’ve fished out tree branches, plastic bottles, flip-flops and even a computer from the water.

As the water cleared, I was so pleased to see that the little juvenile bat fish had survived.

More rain is forecast but today’s weather has been gorgeous. We felt quite relaxed after a somewhat stressful weekend.

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.