December 3rd, 2007 by Farmer Dave
Paradise at a Price
How and where do I start?? Tahiti ended up being a shocker, the prices were just out of control, for example a roadside diner joint with a van as the kitchen would charge over $50 for a meal and drinking water was nearly $10 a bottle..Where things went really wrong was me spending the entire last day in the bathroom crook as a dog from gastro. This followed a fairly uneventful morning of being told that we would have to fork out a few hundred dollars just to rent a car for half a day.
I won't keep going on about the costs of the place or my time on the dunny, I will instead reminisce about the first few days there on Tahiti Iti, which is the little island of Tahiti joined to the big one by a short isthmus.
We arived late at night so had no idea what was to greet us in the morning-well as I mentioned it was beautiful, a massive lagoon with a breakwater at least half a kilometre out and huge rainforest-covered cliffs reaching straight up behind us into the ever present rain clouds.
The village and residence was deserted so we set off on foot and just kept going, exploring and just being amazed at the paradise around us. We ended up crossing the isthmus and having poisson cru at a restaurant recommended by some Mormons we were fortunate enough to run into (love those ties and white shirts that blare out -I don't have a first name but I speak English and I know how to get around and eat cheaply).
Problem was after dinner we had no way of getting back to the village, which was a day's walk away, and it was absolutely bucketing down. Thankfully one of the waitresses took pity on us and got drenched showing us where the bus comes, until we discovered there was none coming, so she rang our residence owner, who came to get our drowned selves. The joys of travel.
The next day we did everything but walk. First up was a truck ride up to Tahiti Iti plateau for a horse ride through the jungle. Amazingly it was a clear morning up there, so the views of Tahiti were incredible, as was just the experience of riding horseback through the jungle with a non-English speaking Frenchman, who was hellbent on explaining the sights in French to us.
After we prized ourselves off the beautiful but wormy GGs, we did the downhill run on bicycle.and I say bicycle cause these were more fitting on a Parisian avenue with bread sticks in the front basket, and white painted tyres that were flat after about 100 metres of hair-raising tobogguning down from the plateau. What made things somewhat hilarious was not my instant flat tyres but the fact that it had been decades since I rode a bike, and I came a busta several times in front of the sun damaged Frenchman and a chorus of laughing from very, very overweight Tahitian women, who actually showed a little concern when the seat fell off.
We did however survive the bob sled of a ride back to the village in time to jump into a couple of kayaks and set off Tahitian style to circumnavigate the island (well that's almost what happened as I just needed to keep seeing more). The only way to see Tahiti is by kayak and as it was raining, the entire island seemed to be covered in waterfalls plunging down the massive mountains that had no summits as the clouds refused to let go for the rest of our stay. A few spots we had to go ashore to explore a little more of the falls and the crystal clear pools, it was just stunning.
In the end I was pretty glad to be out of Tahiti, but so glad I went. What did I learnwell, its expensive, as they have a huge GST on everything you buy, but pay no income taxes and get ridiculous pensions, from 80 to 100% of their wages. Also I learnt that the Tahitians themsleves are supremely friendly and warrant every adjective Captain Cook placed on them.