Tuesday, April 1, 2008

French Polynesia

French Polynesia Flag

The flight from Auckland is an easy one, lasting just five hours. Air Tahiti Nui seems to be a very efficiently run airline. They have a lot of nice local touches, such as giving small orchids to all of the passengers, just to get you in the mood of landing in Papeete, Tahiti. We arrived about 9:45 p.m. You can tell it is a rural island as it was pretty dark when landing at the airport. Kind of like landing in Belize, where after you land, you turn around on the runway, and then taxi back to the terminal. No jetways, just down the ramp and into the non air-conditioned open format terminal.

Arriving in a strange place, without any local money, and no one meeting you is always the most stressful part of any trip. Arriving in Papeete was no exception. As French Polynesia is part of France, anyone with a European Union passport went in to the fast lane. Everybody else was an “other” and so as usual we are the last through immigration. After we collected our bags the prudent thing to do was to get some local cash. The Pacific Islands Franc is 78 to the dollar, so you now have to start thinking in thousands. When I went to the ATM a reasonable choice was to get 20,000 francs, about $250. I thought for awhile that the ATM was rejecting our card, but it was just the guy operating it who is a bit green color blind and the button for accepting the options was green. There should be a law against it.

We then grabbed a cab to the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti. The Radisson is a bit out of town and I was pretty surprised that the cab was 4500 francs. The cab driver may have been taking a bit of advantage of the rookie visitor. At the hotel we were put in a beautiful two level suite on the fourth and top floor, overlooking the pool and the beach. Arriving at 10 p.m. however can put a few jags in the arrival. The elevator to our floor was not working. Fortunately the bell guys were bringing up the heavy bags, and we thought they might have a coronary. A lot of groaning and wheezing. After checking out our very nice accommodation, I hear a scream. Mary Ann had found a very cute 4 inch lizard on the wall of our bedroom. The bellman took a look at it, said it won’t hurt anything and left. Mary Ann is yelling at me as I write this, that she did not think it was very cute.

To give you a bit of perspective about the French Overseas Territory, it consists of five groups of islands which are The Society Islands (including the Windward Islands and the Leeward islands), The Marquesas, the Austals, the Tuamatus, and the Gambiers. Tahiti is in the Society Islands and is the largest island of French Polynesia. Papeete is the capital city. By the way, I don’t think I have mentioned it before, but anytime I want some good in depth information about a country, I always start with the CIA World Fact Book website about the country, or in this case the French territory. The Fact Book is always organized consistently and provides a lot of good basic data. The site for French Polynesia is:

Quirky Living Note: Once you get into this regular blog publishing routine it is a major crisis when you think your laptop has crashed. One evening we could not get the XZ!*#$ thing to turn on. It was completely blank. It was getting power, so what to do? Well, you hope that it will turn on and work the next day. And voila it did turn on in the morning. We had left it plugged in and Mary Ann, the computer guru, thought it was a battery problem which recharged. Actually it was just a loose electrical cable. But shouldn’t it always work when plugged in to real power? I still don’t understand how electricity works, let alone a computer and the internet.

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