In search of Sarkozy Falls

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of French Polynesia  , Society Islands,
Thursday, November 5, 2009

I never particularly wanted to go to French Polynesia.  I did want to go to Rapa Nui and then to Auckland but LAN don't do Rapa Nui to Auckland so I ended up in Papeete.  My lack of interest in the place meant that no research got done beforehand and so the first morning was a mad scramble to source the relevant Lonely Planet.  Just like arriving in Brasil except there I had the benefit of the internet to find the bookshop.  Here are a couple of pics from my first morning in Papeete.

With my Lonely Planet sourced (at an outrageous price) I wandered back to my lodgings to check the options and quickly decided on Raiatea.  The first travel agent I made inquiries at told me that the flights were all booked up although this turned out to be a crock of BS since another travel agent was able to organise flights without trouble.  The next day I was en route to an island that I'd not heard of until the day before the flight. 

I had five excellent days in Raiatea (see blog) and returned to Papeete in an excellent mood.  French Polynesia was definitely starting to grow on me.  I had an 'organisation day', which included some email correspondence with a friend in Basel about hydrogen bonding (the things you still have to do after you're retired) and some admin stuff related to the Australian part of the trip.  The next day I took a day trip by ferry to Moorea (see blog) since Papeete was not growing on me even if the rest of French Polynesia was.   

For the last day in French Polynesia I decided to take a full day jeep tour into the center of Tahiti.  Our guide was Alain, a Breton who has lived in Tahiti for some years and I ended up sitting in the front because we had a large group.  Before long we were fording a river and there was a good view through the Land rover's windscreen.  Riding up front had other benefits since Alain had an excellent, somewhat dry sense of humour (which might stereotypically be associated with the part of France where he is from).  At one place we stopped, there was a diminutive waterfall not more than 50 centimetres high which Alain dubbed "Sarkozy Falls" and I made a mental note to check the height of Carla's heels the next time a suitable picture of her presents itself. 

At one point I wondered why we'd stopped at a small reservoir although we soon found out.  There was a really ugly eel like fish that came out to greet us.  Apparently it'll bite if you let it.
The road climbs up pretty high and there was plenty of low cloud about.  We'd already made a couple of stops to collect delicious wild strawberries by the time we got to the tunnel. 

Cecilia and Raul are from Mexico and were on honeymoon.  She looks a tiny bit impatient in this photo as he fiddles with the camera and you can also see the guys from the French Caribbean (one from Martinique and the other from Guadeloupe) in the background.   I wandered into the tunnel and got a dramatic photo of Cecilia on the Land Rover which she liked.  However, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to develop a post-Pharma career as a honeymoon photographer.

The road goes down what appeared to be a reservoir and I got pics of some of the of the group as we were preparing to go. 
The Tahiti to Auckland flight was with Air Tahiti Nui and the progess of the check-in could have been described as taking place on a geological time scale.  One could have been forgiven for forming the view that check in and boarding had been deliberately slowed so that the business class passengers would feel that they were getting value for money.   


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