Tahiti - paradise or cruel parody?
06 June 2009 | Tahiti
Tahiti!!!! First impression: unbelievably pretty, but Tahiti sucks so far!
OK, on paper it is very cool to be here but so far we have only seen the dirty suburbia facet of the largest city in French Polynesia. We showed up here very sleep deprived after a nice passage, but two days is too short to get a sleep rhythm and you end up feeling like you have only had cat naps for a week. Also, we have learned that each time we reach a new city, the first day will be difficult and frustrating so of course today was no exception.
We motored into Papeete harbor and after a fairly straightforward but stressful negotiation of the pass - involving a freighter, a bunch of markers that we could not reconcile with the chart, heavy current, contacting harbor control to see when we could pass both ends of a runway, waiting for a jet to take off so that we would not be smoked by the exhaust and dirt of the runway - we reached the anchorage area. Paradise smashed into reality when we saw that Tahiti put in too many paid mooring balls for us to anchor in most of the areas, the anchored local boats are packed very closely together and there is no room for visiting boats. The only empty spots were there because there are big scary coral reefs in them. Basically, there is no room at the inn. Round one, we try and anchor but swing too close to a large catamaran on a mooring. Round two is in a wonderfully open spot by the hotel, but the water skiing training center sends out a boat to tell us to move, please. We begrudgingly scootch to the edge of their area in round three, but after trying to relax, decide that we are just too close to the other boats and need to move. Round four has us moving to the next bay that is wide open with only one familiar boat and several local boats. We anchored tucked in at the end of the bay and finally breathed a great sigh of relief that turned into a string of muttered obscenities when an inbound fishing boat motions that we can not anchor there, it is in the way of their backing up against the wharf. They were not even trying to get to the wharf and we uncharitably think that they just wanted to make the tourists move. Round five had us finally anchored in the middle of the bay (and at the end of the runway) where we collapsed for the nap that was supposed to make up for the last two nights of partial sleep.
This afternoon we rowed ashore and politely asked the local dive shop if we could tie the dingy to their dock? We asked nicely in French and the effusive reply boiled down to "No, the tanks, they are pressurized and this area must be private, what if they were to blow up? Of course, you can not tie up here " After tying the dingy to a tree off the hotel beach, we schlepped to the grocery store along the main road. Trudging along, we noticed that we were easily outpacing the cars in the afternoon traffic and that the pickup truck behind us with the music blaring from its open windows had been ahead of us when we started. Any shortage of exhaust fumes we might have been suffering from after all of the weeks at sea was remedied today.
Of course, nothing is all good or all bad and balance was restored to the universe by finding the ice machine at the hotel. Tonight we sat on the boat with cocktails full to the rims with ice and an amazing view of Morea across the channel from Tahiti. We ate broccoli for the first time in memory and fresh eggs for the first time in a couple of months. The boat is quiet and we are headed to bed.