Tahiti - Trekking the interior
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 23, 2011, 8:17 pm, Tahiti
A load of yachties from Jacana, Kailana, Blue Heron and Duncan from a superyacht, bumped and thumped our way up the lush Papenoo Valley in the back tray of Patrick Adventure four wheel drive.
The bridges were narrow
The roads were suss
With the odd tunnel thrown in.
Waterfalls abounded. In the wet the mountains are wall to wall waterfalls. Tahiti never has a water shortage.
The valleys are lush, the hills incredibly steep and crumbly - too dangerous to climb.
The interior is almost deserted. Used to be 10,000 odd people lived there, nowadays there is no one.
We were very lucky to see this endemic orchid, that has not been some for some time. It only lives in this valley.
"Alors, Voila", as our guide said..... interminably.
Birds of Tahiti
Everything is quiet. It is rare to hear the song of a bird.
There are few species here and introduced animals and birds have culled the natives.
Ratus ratus loves eggs. The common minor was introduced to eat pests but is bullying the locals out of their terrain.
The introduced Swamp Harrier is cutting a swarthe through the endemics.
The Red Vented Bulbul
In the towns, the common minor, the introduced Red Vented Bulbul and the Chestnut Breasted Munia make up the numbers.
In the interior we saw the Grey Green fruit Pigeon and the Tahiti Swiftlet, both endemic to French Polynesia.
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 11, 2011, 2:54 pm, Taina Marina, Papeete, Tahiti
The land of pamplemousse, breadfruit, D cup frangipani toting beauties, and French food opulence.
This is our front yard as we lie tied stern to the marina wall looking out over the nearby island of Moorea, and watching super strong Polynesian men training for the forthcoming canoe race around the island.
We almost feel guilty as we clink glasses "sante".
The marina is host to large boat and small. Our neighbour sure cut us down to size!
As you walk out of Taina marina in Papeete, or take le bus to town, the first thing you notice is that you can only catch the most occasional glimpse of the lagoon or beach. The rich have fenced it off for themselves.
Their houses fringe the beach and 8 ft walls are a most effective barrier to keep the landless at bay.
It is mostly the local people who use the splendid bus service. The French drive the citrons, renaults etc. But there does appear to be a high level of friendliness from all.
It is sad to know that we are in the southern hemisphere, in the pacific and we have to say we are in France. The colonial rule stretches on and on.
Mururoa is just to the south east.
Where stuttering is not an impediment.
Most of the locations in Tahiti are in Polynesian; a language where every syllable is pronounced.
Try our nearest suburb Faaa, pronounced far,ar,ar.
We rest our case.
Canard and chow mien
The roulottes are loads of fun.
These food vans offer fairly sophisticated tucker. Tamarind duck was the standout. Plastic seats and tables are provided.
Small fleets of these vans set up at well known locations, the most prominent is on the promenade smack bang in the middle of town.
They are open most nights, but the yachties tend to congregate on a saturday.
The Polynesians flock to them.
Music is the go. One night we enjoyed reggae, but on a follow up visit we had to endure the music of the god botherers. The luck of the draw.
It's a tiny world
Lo and behold there are Aussie voices everywhere.
Peter Hardy and Millie, from our own yacht club, Hobsons Bay, hail us at dusk from the dock. They are in Tahiti to sail to the Cook islands on a sustainable holiday on a yacht that collects data on plastic pollution in the ocean. It turns out Yo and Peter taught together at Footscray City for years.
Inside the marina are a couple of people from Geelong who belong to the same yacht club as our friends Bill Ethell and Danny Connor.
Passage to Tahiti- Arrived after 6 full days
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 5, 2011, 9:30 pm, Taina Marina, Papeete, Tahiti
We arrived at 1100 hrs Thurs after a fine but willing sail overnight.
A band of wind down south moved up enough to give us 20 to 25 knots during the night and lakes full of rain - damn.
The anchorages here are very tight. These days mainly mooring buoys all bar one filled with local boats. We ended up going into the Taina marina as we are not prepared to anchor with 2 to 1 chain anywhere.
There are about 20 buoys available on a first come basis, but getting one would be like winning the Melbourne Cup.
The port control speak perfect English and are most helpful.
The actual harbour is simple to enter at night, but I would not be game to tackle the channel down to Maeva beach or the marina at night first time in. There is one particular spot where the coral juts out.
Plan on enjoying Tahiti for a couple of weeks
On Passage to Tahiti - Day 4
Yo and Dan Hellier
May 2, 2011, 4:10 pm, On Passage to Tahiti
Threading our way through the low lying Tuomotu Atolls in light winds. A slow but easy trip.
Heaved in a 30 lb tuna bang on dusk. Tuna burgers, Sri Lankan fish curry and sashimi coming up.
Birds we saw in the Galapagos
Yo and Dan Hellier
March 20, 2011, 6:05 pm, Wreck Bay, San Christobal, Galapagos
Cactus Darwin Finch
Chatham mocking bird (endemic)
Vegetarian Darwin Finch
Woodpecker Darwin finch
Cactus Darwin finch
Small ground Darwin finch
Warbler Darwin finch
Tree Darwin finch
White cheeked pintail (endemic)
Common Galinule gallinulla chloropus (endemic)
Smooth billed arni (introdu ced)
Galapagos storm petrel
Galapagos or lava heron
Great blue heron
Yellow crowned night heron
Nazca booby (now recognized as a different species to the masked booby)
Blue footed booby
Red footed booby
Magnificent frigate bird
Great frigate bird
Semi palmated plover
Red billed tropic bird
Elliots storm petrel
We had a day with a local guide called Wilson Roja, who took us to the bird locations. This tour was organized by Sharksky especially for ourselves and was excellent.
We saw most of the Darwin finches that live on San Christobal, and many endemic species. The land tortoise rehab centre was good for these species.
A highlight was viewing the frigate birds washing in the fresh water volcano lake (El Junco).
We had been under the impression that as the frigate bird finds it so difficult to launch into flight, it does not land in water. Not true. They in fact, come to the fresh water lake to clean the salt from their plumage.
They drop into the water for some seconds, take off and soar to a great height, then go into freefall, violently shaking their wings and feathers as they plummet.
They pull out of their fall as they get nearer to the ground.
At Los Loberia, a beach on the south coast, we saw a surprising number of seabirds.
The Darwin finches are another story. Now they have been identified as tanagers. Every type of finch relates back to a pair of blue black type quits, but they have all adapted differently.
While many all eat the same food in the good years, when everything dries up they have adapted to survive in their own unique way.
The vampire finch has adapted to suck blood from red or blue footed boobies, the wood pecker finch uses a stick as a tool to extract lavae from the trunks of dead trees, yet another has learnt to survive on the lice from the giant land tortoises and iguanas.
Adaptability is the key, and it is the beaks that have primarily adapted in varying ways to suit the conditions of their particular terrain..
Tsunami no problemo para Jacana
March 12, 2011, 2:19 pm, Wreck Bay, San Cristobal