May 31, 2014

A Little More on Tahiti and its Suburb, Moorea

A good traveler has no fixed plans 
And is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu 

Beautiful pirogue at rest
We circle the island by car taking along two ladies from the pension.  They are twins, one retired, one not.  One lived mostly in Europe while the other in North America (guess which one still works – yes the one who lived in NA).  They are trying to decide their next move and a day of sightseeing may be the ticket to turning their minds off thinking about work, moving, finding a new place to live, etc.


Tunic made of tapa, feathers and shells - Tapa is a fabric made of tree bark
Mostly of Marquesan origin
We visit the Tahiti and Polynesian Islands Museum first and although very informative, we are sad to see how much has been ‘stolen’ from the various islands.  From US to European museums, many of their collection pieces are sitting on foreign soils.  The slow work to repatriate them has begun but is uncertain. 

Water fountain near caves
Largest of Mara'a caves 250' deep, 30' high, 100' wide
Oh so lush...
Waterfall and lianas (vines)
Further down the road and right next to it we see caves surrounded by extremely lush vegetation.  No fee to get in and see.  A small botanical garden opens its doors for free as well.  What a wonderful and generous way to see the island. 

Small stone church by roadside
A few older churches, archaeological sites, parks and beach sights later we make it back home.  The island is lovely and offers much to see at no cost.


Red tikis from Marae Arahurahu, Marae = abode of gods, Red = sacred color
Tahua or sacred courtyard with unu sculptures or pillars of the sky
Back of the tahua - the higher areas reserved for priests and males only
We visit with Sandra, the owner of Tiki Parfumerie where they make Tahitian monoi.  We met her at the pension we stayed at in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas.  She and her boyfriend hiked to the cascades with us.  She has a beautiful home overlooking Papeete and its port.  She is a wonderful host and even takes the time to show us how they make poisson cru, rather than just serving it.  Her business takes her many places in Europe, French Polynesia and the world but she stays down to earth connecting with people from everywhere.

Porcelain rose - stunning!
Moorea – The Suburb of Tahiti

Our ride returning to Tahiti
Before leaving Tahiti, we decide to take a detour to Moorea, practically its suburb even though it’s another island.  Many locals make daily commutes between the two places on the several ferries that go to and fro.  We stop over just for a couple of days.  Our timing is not the greatest however.  The day after we arrive is another holiday.  Everything is closed and all rentals (cars, bikes, scooters) are out.  We therefore hike or kayak around. 


Crashers outside the reef - they don't reach where this picture is taken from - we are safe
Crystal clear water shows reef potatoes
From small islet towards reef
To this date Moorea is our least favorite island.  Everyone tells us the same thing:  “It was great 20 years ago.”  Tourism and growth have destroyed it; and indeed they have.  Even though its waters are mostly crystal clear, the lagoon seems dead.  On land, many buildings are in ruins, the locals aren’t very welcoming, tired of dealing with booms and busts and many unfinished or broken promises.  We do however see a cleaning road crew, on bicycles; collecting trash along the way… trying to give this island a little needed sprucing up.

Woman fishing the lagoon all day
We see a couple of women fish the lagoon aboard pirogues – they are at it all day long and don’t seem to be catching much.  It’s amazing to be kayaking in a lagoon hearing, seeing, and watching the huge crashers stopped by the reefs surrounding the island.  We can kayak; do stand-up-paddle very safely knowing that just outside these reefs it would be impossibly dangerous.


Rescue turtle
One of the main hotels has a turtle sanctuary and we visit it.  It only contains 3 turtles; one that will never get out for it cannot float correctly and needs continual attention and two others that are getting better.  They have handled around 1,500 turtles since their inception.


View of crest from bus back to ferry
The crater’s old crest is still ragged and beautiful and I’m sure hiking up its steep flanks would be grand but we did not get the chance in the only two days we were there.

I think we could discover Moorea a little further and perhaps get a more positive picture of it over time or with the right connections.  It just wasn’t to be this time around.  On Moorea are produced the well known Rotui juices seen on nearly everyone’s table in French Polynesia.  The company also makes delicious jams and a pineapple wine that is supposed to be quite good.  We’ll have to try it next time.

Church from park in Tahiti
Dove perched on tiki
Inside pandanu roofing - beautiful
Brand new McDonald ad
A couple of hours later filled with arrows - Tell us how you really feel about McDo!
Silence Culte sign - When approaching churches/temples
Inclined trees sign - move over cars
Coffees served on a real slate - only the French

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