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.

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.

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.

Under water wonders.

Moorea. French Polynesia.

Last week off the beautiful island of Moorea, wearing mask and snorkels, we swam with Whales. After a briefing from the professional duo, we quietly entered the ocean to watch the females interacting with their young. They would come up to the surface to breath, then go down to about ten meters to rest. When we departed on the boat, one mother waggled her tail in the air to say farewell. Beautiful mammals.
We then went inside the reef to see the rays and sharks. As I entered the water, I was enveloped by a ray the size of a dustbin lid. It felt like a soft, rubbery, velvet embrace.

We had an amazing day with these people. Check out their website

We have scuba dived for years and been in awe of the wonders of nature underwater. One of our pleasures is hunting for Nudibranchs and, OK, looking for slugs isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but these sea slugs are exotic and beautiful. We’ve been dissapointed to have only spotted a few minute, plain white nudibranchs whilst diving in French Polynesia.

Thinking nothing could compare to our thrilling experience watching the enormous whales, I was stunned to notice a tiny rare treasure on the pontoon pilon where our yacht Shiraz is berthed in the Papeete marina in Tahiti.

This needed further investigation.

The tiny animal was a few feet under the surface, it could have been a sea sponge but I was sure I could see gills on it’s upper body suggesting that it was a Nudibranch. This would be such a rare discovery. It required an underwater shot.

It was indeed a Nudibranch.
Next morning the animal was grazing on the pilon water line. We couldn’t believe our eyes.
With clear water, I snapped away with my phone camera.

I’m still trying to identify the species. John thinks there are others on the pilon. Truly amazing.