Saturday 5 November 2016

Tahiti doesn't have to be expensive

Transit day again – but first, after a glorious sunrise, there was a visit to the Turtle Sanctuary that Le Méridiento its credit, runs in the grounds. Today there were seven residents held in relatively small individual tubs, recovering from various indignities like a spear-fishing wound, loss of flipper, fishing hook injury, and plastic ingestion. Though some have parasites, most of the problems are caused by people. They’re all green turtles, juveniles, and are exercised every day in an offshoot of the lagoon where colourful reef fish seemed to be having a lot of fun in the stream of water coming out of the pump.
And then it was time to be hung with a shell necklace and swap places on the shuttle with the lucky guests who were just arriving, and buzz along the lagoon to the airport, to sit in the airy waiting room facing Otemanu and wait for the plane back to Tahiti, which seems now to be much less of a Pacific paradise.
We had seriously impressive views of Moorea as we approached Tahiti: the peaks are so steep and high, remnants of the volcanic crater, and lush with bush. And then we were back in Papeete’s busy, crowded, tarmacked mess where all the Pacific charms we’d first admired now seemed negligible. Even Le Méridien here, after the Bora Bora version, looked almost ordinary. Here, see for yourself:
However, lots of people in a place do have some advantages, and for dinner we went to the roulottes – food trucks – in the Place Vaiete, where tables were busy with families with little kids, teenagers, tourists and older people. You can eat everything from a suckling pig to a crèpe Suzette, by way of Chinese food, poisson cru, hamburgers or steak. It’s good. So was the bottle of cider, with its champagne cork, drunk out of traditional pottery cups.
Best of all tonight, though, was the dance event going on just beside where the roulottes were gathered. Masses of teenagers and young kids were eagerly participating in a series of hip hop/breakdance-type challenges, and they were really good: assured, skilful and confident. Some of their moves were just amazing – spinning, balancing, somersaulting, plus all the usual twitching and swaying. The group final was something you’d pay to see, the two crews so keen to out-do each other that their moves just got more and more outrageous and so – good-naturedly – in-your-face that it felt vaguely Montague-Capuletish, with the compère shouting “Ça suffit! Arrêtez-vous!”
Place Vaiete on a Saturday night: warm, dark, crowded but relaxed, colourful, fun, tasty and interesting. Recommended.

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