. I finally went to sleep at about 2:15 AM and could not believe I was actually here. The roosters began crowing at 3:15 AM and did not stop until evening. Lots of tropical bird songs were intermixed with the roosters' at daylight. Paradise, yes!
Needless to say, I did not get much sleep between the bird songs and my excitement. Wanting to be adventurous, after showering, I walked to the local grocery store "Champion" to buy breakfast. First, I used the outside ATM to the left of the entrance to get cash in French Polynesian francs ($100 XPF = $1.14 USD). I quickly learned to take out smaller amounts of cash several times in order to get smaller currency bills. A bit disconcerting at first to see such seemingly high prices but I just divided the prices by 100 to get an idea of how much things cost in US dollars. The very interesting, large grocery store brought back memories of when I was young with many food items being sold in bulk without wrappers. I loved taking in all of the sounds, smells and watching the locals interact in French as I walked around the store. I bought a ubiquitous baguette, some Roquefort blue cheese and sliced sausage of some sort. It was all labeled in French and difficult to tell what I was actually buying. Baguettes were carried by everyone without plastic or paper bags for sanitation. Customers would just lay their bare baguettes on the check-out counter
. I decided to carry mine. I saw a guy riding a motorcycle with two baguettes tucked in the back of his pants. Baguettes became a common site, if not a "bare" necessity.
I walked along the Papeete harbor to eat my delicious fresh food. The Tahitians were very friendly with big smiles and spoke to me in French all along my walk...I felt so welcomed. Many beautiful women & men, never ending eye candy. The children were even adorable. I saw several small family groups huddled around musicians and singing to ukulele music. Very warm and soothing melodies. Across the harbor to the northwest, I could see the mysteriously alluring island of Mo'orea about 9 miles off in the distance, with puffy white clouds capping it's mountains and a thick mist shrouding it's shores. Turning inland, the cloud topped, deep verdant green Tahitian mountains were majestic. I gladly took it all in. This was a world far away from the blowing snows of Lake Michigan.
Went to the huge, 2-story local market "Le Marche" (lay mar-shay) to find fellow passenger Gail from Austin, TX. We had been in contact on the internet for over 8 months on a Cruise Critic forum. Found her buying a beautiful Tahitian made ukulele (soundboard hole is in back as opposed to the Hawaiian version with hole in front)
. We hugged and were instant friends. She helped me pick out a Tahitian designed shirt & Monoi (Mah-noy) de Tahiti, coconut oil infused with the Tahitian gardenia Tiare (tee-a-ray) flower, to be used as massage oil on Bill. Decided against buying pareos as they looked like diapers on older men. Ha! We went upstairs and toasted our meeting with ice cold Tahitian Hinano (ee-non-o) beers. Yes! Being hungry, we found a shop selling baguette sandwiches and I had mine filled with Chinese Chow Mein. Gail had one with sliced hard boiled egg & ham. We discovered that Tahitians seem to love baguettes and with anything inside. Gail & I parted for our respective hotels before our 4X4 tour.
We were later picked up by Arnault, our 4X4 Land Rover tour guide driver, for the thrilling ride through the Tahitian valleys & mountains. Eight of us Star Flyer passengers came on the tour. I was the youngest with 78 the oldest. I finally met my wild Dutch pen pal Ineke (EE-na-ka) in person. She punched me in the shoulder for previously fooling her that I knew Dutch. We had great belly laughs as we sat side my side for the tour. Besides Gail, Ineke & me, also joining us were Ed & Sue from Palm Desert, CA; Terry & Jean from the Chicago area; and Rokie from the southwest coast of England. Tahiti is gorgeous beyond words. And much of the interior is pristine and appears untouched by man
. There were waterfalls and fabulously lush vistas around every bend in the road. The mountains were so steep and yet covered with vegetation. Many mountain tops were always covered with clouds. The roads were beyond horrible the farther we went. At one point, Arnault had to get out of the Land Rover and use a machete to clear our path. He explained that Hurricane Pat passed to the south of the island a week earlier, causing many trees & vegetation to fall down. There were also many rock slides with boulders out on the road. Twice we crossed rivers without a bridge. This was wild country. This was living my dream! On the way back, we stopped next to the ocean to watch surfers attempting the huge waves. I couldn't help but think that the next day we would be sailing in those swells.
Arnault dropped 7 of us off at the "Roulettes" where we were going to eat dinner. These deli trucks were at the main harbor nightly. We found out that no alcohol was served there. So, we all headed to a nearby bar/restaurant for cocktails before heading back to the Roulettes. We toasted our first of many days together. Several of us shared pitchers of cold Hinano. We bought booze across the street and brought it back to the Roulettes. I had much of the very good local Tahitian Hinano beer as the sun set behind the nearby island of Moorea in the distance. Unexpectedly, we watched the Star Flyer in awe as she sailed into the now dark harbor and slowly docked next to the Roulettes
. She was lit up with white lights that ran from mast to mast. We met several fellow sailors that were watching her, too. Now we were really hungry. The Roulettes have Tahitian to Chinese food at much reduced prices vs. the regular restaurants. $18 is better than $80 - $100 for dinner. Tahiti is about 3 times more expensive than the USA (gas is over $8/gal). I had to have the Tahitian Poisson Cru (raw fish). It was a wonderful salad of fresh-caught raw tuna marinated in coconut milk & lime juice with lettuce, sliced cucumber & onion and better than I expected. We met two wild & pretty sisters from Texas who heard us speaking English. We hit it off with them. It is so easy to meet people here. After partying into the night, I said my good nights to everyone. I walked "home" in the dark about 1 mile and passed a beautiful Rae Rae (he-she), pronounced ray-ray. 'She' was tall & slim and all decked out with stiletto heels and the most garish outfit. As she walked by, I turned around to check out her behind. She caught me looking at her and started making kissing noises, apparently to get my attention and to call me back. I kept on walking safely to Fare Suisse...alone. End of day one in Tahiti! Magnifique!
021410 Boarding Star Flyer Day: Recovered from last evening's wild party night in Papeete at Faire Suisse in the shade of their open-air living room
. It was again hot and steamy. I was drained and had no energy to play tourista again. So, I passed the time updating and downloading this blog using their free wireless internet and drinking Tahitian Hinano beers. We could see the Star Flyer masts poking above the trees in the distance. At 16:00, Ed, Sue & I loaded our luggage into the Faire Suisse car and Audrey drove us to the Star Flyer harbor slip. Star Flyer was larger than life, majestic and beautiful. She would be home for the next two months. Sports Team's Victor helped me with the embarkation process and soon I walked up the gangway to an awaiting greeting entourage, bellini and hot hand towel roll. Soon, I made it to my starboard cabin 110 with porthole just above sea level and unpacked as best as I could. The partying was just beginning as I joined Gail at the Tropical Bar for more Hinano beer. Pinch me!! The dream voyage was about to begin!
021310 Tahiti Dream: After almost 6 hours flying from Honolulu, I arrived in hot & steamy Fa'aa Airport in Papeete, Tahiti at 1:30 AM on 02/13/2010. I immediately broke out into a full body sweat which has not stopped. It has been so hot & humid 24 hours a day...difficult to imagine when living in snow & cold. Customs thankfully waved me by without checking my luggage. As I departed the terminal building, I spotted my name on a sign being held up by a young Tahitian woman. Ed & Sue were also staying at the same Bed & Breakfast. After introductions, Audrey drove Ed, Sue & me to our B&B Fare Suisse (Swiss House) in downtown Papeete. She escorted me to my Maupiti room with double bed & bath. It was very clean and even had a resident bright green Gold Dust Day gecko clinging to the bathroom ceiling. There were no screens in the opened windows and no air conditioning in my room. Surprisingly, there were no flying insects to be seen, inside or outside. I laid nude on the bed sheets, sprawled out on my back with the overhead ceiling fan on high