Sorry cant seem to publish all your wonderful comments coming in. Mary I am no longer on ozemail - use my gmail address. Havent been able to buy a phone or data sim card. Maybe today when I reach Hiva Oa. Its now 4am ish. Cocks have crowed. Must rush. Airport beckons.
Monday, 30 September 2013
I tore myself from the second empty glass and headed for the Rouletto or some such that was the square with vans, food and people. I chose the blue van which my taxi driver said had the best poisson en cru. From research I knew this was the signature dish of French Poly. Ordered. Sat down. Soon this large plate/bowl arrived. I worked my way through every gorgeous mouthful realising I had eaten an also ran quality of same at lunchtime. I am aware of 'cooking' raw fish with lemon juice, but these small pieces seemed to done with coconut milk. The 'salad' of cucumber and tomato were mixed through. I cant believe how velvety soft and dissolving the fish was. Truly manna from heaven. Despite being full as a goog, I headed off to the creperie van (again as per taxi drivers instruction). Normally I dont do sweet but bravely lashed out and ordered a banana and chocolate crepe. It arrived folded into a rectangle. Between the folds oozed wonderful melted chocolate intermixed with soft cooked banana slices. All of it melted the moment it was in my mouth. And it didnt feel heavy or too rich. And I really enjoyed it. What a wonderful superb start to the French Poly holiday. I found my taxi driver again, and she dropped me back at the hotel. She decided she didnt want to be paid for the return trip, but it wasnt fair. She like so many others will never have the privilege of travelling like I do. But it does indicate their warm hospitality. Oh and trusting. She didnt want me to pay when we first got into the city and said I could pay later. Might ask for that trust from the Hobart cabbies. Hmmm. Mayhe not.
Sunday, 29 September 2013
There are lots of advantages in being here on Sunday when shops are closed. This is the day when, after church in amazing decorated hats - I have a photo, people eat. Its the day of eating whether at home or out at a restaurant. So where we lunched at the Gauguin Museum which was minus the museum, there was a smorgasbord option with local authentic meals. What good fortune! Our tour driver explained everything, Principally, polynesia is not about spicy rather about sweet and salty. But after lunch, i have to say that the sweet and salty are immensely restrained and I loved everything. No surprises. Everything about raw fish and coconut milk. Three different varieties of banana - the most delectible morsel was boiled ladies fingers banana with a sweet vinegar marinade and cucumber sensation in the flavor. Looked disgusting like a child's tongue. Was a pinky colour and initially we (the new york couple celebrating her birthday in first class and then staying in those outrageously expensive bures on Bora Bora but still managed to be good company) thought meat (because we forgot what we were told). It was amazing. And there was much much more to the excitement of the food.
Or is it the drinker? I had a firm resolve when I left the brasserie to go and eat, but here I am in the next brasserie with another delightful Hinano. I am not finding the climate so trying like I did when I arrived last night. Good. I need to be a little acclimatised before I get to the Marqisis tomorrow.
So much to say about today's tour but already evening is starting. No dinner outlets open near hotel so have taxied to the capital Papeete. Told female driver I wanted authentic Polynesian food. She dropped me at the wharf area near some caravan based vendors in an open square and told me in an hour it will be hopping with people and the best of local food. Tables and chairs are being set out and it looks like it will be 1 huge party. I have wandered away and found a brasserie. Sitting in retro chairs this place has a wonderful worn feel about it. Drinking the local beer - Hinano. More like a draft than a lager. Perfect for my slightly sunburnt body that is still slippery with sun protection lotion. That is, it is perfect because it makes me relax from being so hot - the last part of the tour was driving into the hot sun and even though the air conditioning was working, it warmed me up. Not sure of the alcoholic content of this beer, but I am having to correct lots of mistakes. Almost dark at a little after 6pm and being closer to the equator tomorrow will mean darkness comes even sooner then - just when Tassie's days are lengthening. Wow I really feel relaxed. Guess another beer is out of the question.
For those who had read earlier blogs, you know this was on my must do list. This was where Captain Cook had tried to record the transit of the planet Venus over the sun - as part of a number of people on earth trying to calculate celestial distances. What I reminded my driver was that Charles Darwin on another occasion stopped here. It is not clear why this eminent personage is not in local reckoning. I took photos but it is all rather well trodden perhaps by millions of locals and tourists since then, and doesnt have much in the way of redeeming features. Stacks of people swimming off the rich black sand shore. Hand size crabs scurrying into python sized holes in the black soil. Apparently they taste like mud unless kept in a cage and fed coconut to clean them out. So not much to say about the markers of earlier western civilisation encroaching; a 1867 lighthouse once manual and now electronic, a white painted cement monstrosity recording Capt Cook's visit, and a bizarre memorial to the missionaries. A triathlon was underway nearby - events these days are so global. With nothing to hold us, we set off again.
There have been a great many fortunate things about today so far. The cloudy sky became blue and the sun sparkled on the rain cleaned trees. My advance reading had prepared me for genuine hospitality. When the message for me to meet my tour driver down on the street, did not reach me until I asked and being late I set off with a dash down the goat track, I was met by very relaxed driver Vinioo who seemed remarkably unworried. She sat me up front next to her and the 2 couples sat behind. This meant I had a brilliant unobstructed view and I soaked it all up. What a wonderful tour it was in both English and French, but because I was next to her I could easily ask lots of questions. Marvellous. We travelled first to Papeete and being Sunday everything was shut. But the great advantage was that there were few people and few cars, so I could see any building or situation of note. I certainly wasnt interested in shopping. After collecting the final couple we were on our way.
There is something about warmth, humidity and bare arms that make you relax into a holiday. After a breakfast of fresh croissant with jam, amidst tables of french speakers, I am ensconced on patio furniture watching ferries on the water. In the distance with some puff white toppings is the majestic island of Moorea. I imagine hundreds of tourists and the occasional local resident travelling back and forth. Obviously a comparatively young island geologically because it has all its hard and sharp mountainous edges. My view of the sea off Tahiti from my hotel verandah, shows breakers somewhat offshore ringing the edge with, I suppose, under- water reefs. That white frill is a nice decorative touch.
Simply want to record the fact that there is no ceiling fan, and the airconditioner doesnt work and I can only open the window 2 inches. But its character building and its good to get used to being too warm. And John you will smile when I tell you there aren't large cockroaches in evidence just those small soft light brown ones on the walls. So I have zippered up my suitcase. The room is fine. Its clean, and spartan. Need to go out to Bora Bora and some other islands to get the plush resort hotels. Changing the subject, I can see my blog but cant get in for some reason, and so sorry I cant change the spelling mistakes. Thank goodness I can continue my story via this email method.
Looking forward to a good night's sleep and up ready for around day trip tomorrow. The entrance into Tahiti airport building was a surprise. Two singers with ukeleles and a gyrating dancer not looking particularly touristy, and softly musical in a nice way. Then when I came out into the public waiting area there were lots of people greeting friends and spreading real floral necklaces over their necks, everywhere. It was fantastic. Wish someone had been meeting me. I and a few others, without floral tributes, headed to our hotel on the hill up a steep dark lane laughing all the while about goat tracks. But I should have a spectacular view in the morning. Glad to have arrived.
Saturday, 28 September 2013
Wish I was wearing my thermal. Sitting having bowl hot buttery pumkin soup for breakfast. Outside an endless stream of motor bikes like our Hobart fun run but without the kids toys. Missed the 10am ferry to Devonport by a minute or two and next not for an hour so too late for me. Wandered into big shed marked tourist market. Three stands open. Over to refurbished wharf shed with sign Auckland Heritage Festival. Another example for your PhD thesis Isabel. I was one of few visitors walking around, but the organisers were all trying things out and having a great time. Wonder how much government funding went into giving these artists a chance to do something for the people. The washed yellow sun is seeping through the cloud layer. Might be a nice spring day here soon. Almost time for me to return to the airport. 45 mins to city so very glad I stayed at airport hotel.
When we arrived late into Auckland at what I imagined was 12.30am, I discovered daylight saving started at midnight and so it was now an hour later. In bed by 2.30am and can strongly recommend Novetel Airport Hotel. But at 7am (4am Hobart time) a phone call noise woke me from the deep, I couldnt reach it in time, then couldnt return to sleep. So I am up and about to go into Auckland on this cool morning. Let the adventure continue.