Thursday, April 3, 2008

Around the Island

Papeete from the hill above our lagoon

The Waterfall - Just after the Elvis serenade

Fishing in the river

Every trip needs a really tacky moment!

To get a feel for the whole island, we arranged for a half day tour on the morning of our second full day. Our guide was William who picked us up along with a young French couple and then drove through town and picked up some Japanese newlyweds at the Intercontinental. It was a very hot day so the good news was that the van was air-conditioned. The tour was to go (and did) completely around the island. We did not however go on to Tahiti Iti (little Tahiti), but stuck to Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti). The whole island is somewhat shaped like a ping-pong paddle and Tahiti Iti (also called the peninsula) would be the handle of the paddle.

There are no paved roads across the island, only on the shoreline around it. The interior has high mountains and is very rugged with dense vegetation. On our drive counter-clockwise we first stopped at the proverbial guide type place called the Lagoonarium. For an extra fee (and I suspect a guide kickback) we had the pleasure of going into the jaws of the shark and proceeded underwater to look at the mid-size sharks and fish. I should have brought a book and opted out. Our next stop was at the Paul Gauguin Museum on the south end of the island. The museum traced the history of Gauguin and was interesting along with copies of many of his paintings and a few artifacts. Why was it located there you ask? Because the land was cheaper than in Papeete, plus the mosquitoes are thrown in for free. Gauguin died in the Marquesas in 1903 at age 53. A very troubled man it seemed.

Our last two stops around the island were at the very spectacular waterfall on the northeast side, followed by an ocean blow hole. During the longest stretch of the trip where there were no interesting stops, William serenaded us with Elvis songs. That was a first on any tour in our experience.

Quirky Living Note: Back at the Radisson for the afternoon, I had the most wonderful French experience. How about escargot? French wine? Non! It was finding topless ladies around the pool. Now I maybe will get to like just lying around and relaxing more.

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