Hawaii/South Pacific: Papeete, Tahiti

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Since we had eaten such a late lunch at the Dive-In, we decided not to eat in the main dining room. After the sail-away party, listened to the Dance Band, played some slots, and then went to the Lido. I had a salad. Chuck got a little Asian food.

We took our plates out to the Sea View deck and enjoyed the breezes and watched the day turn into night.

While we were there, I was perusing Facebook and happen to see a link to an article that a fellow cruiser had posted. It was about a ship passenger who had been arrested in Raiatea trying to get off of a ship with a piece of luggage. It would have been okay except the luggage was filled with methamphetamine. I thought “I didn’t see any other cruise ship in Raiatea.” No wonder I didn’t – turns out the passenger was on our ship!

I was astonished. Given the age demographics of our ship, I would not have been surprised if the luggage had been full of blood pressure meds, or heart medications, or even Viagra but Meth? No way.

Turns out that the passenger was a 27-year-old Tahitian who said he needed to get off the ship early because he had a sick grandmother. I feel certain that the inspector who heard that excuse must have been a former college instructor. I always knew whenever I gave students an assignment, a number of grandparents were going to perish when the assignment due date came around.

However, for this man, he would not be getting a failing grade for his assignment. He is looking at 10 years in a Tahitian prison. Hope he learns a trade while there – the world of smuggling didn’t work out so good for him.

I did feel sorry for the Captain and HAL. Not great publicity for the cruise line. San Diego Customs, which is not in HAL control, really fell down on the job.

Afterwards, we went to the first set of BB King band and then to listen to the Dance Band again.

We docked at Papeete at 9:00 pm. First time I have ever left one place and docked at another on the same day. Some people were going to get off the ship after it was cleared but the city looked deserted to me. Kainoa had warned us about Papeete as it is the capital of Tahiti and he said “characters” come out at night like they do in all big cities. Warning enough for me.

At 10:00, we got in line at the main stage for the 10:30 performance from a local Tahitian Song and Dance Troupe. With only one show, we knew the theater would be crowded. It was.

It was a great show of their interpretation of their ancestors arriving to Tahiti. Two singers were in the background with a small band. Next to them were several Tahitian drummers. Out front were the interpretive dancers. At the end of the show, we gave them a standing ovation. Afterwards, we called it a night.

After a coffee run and a late Lido breakfast, I worked some more on processing my photos from the underwater camera. Chuck spent time reading. Was difficult to concentrate because the ship was having a crew safety drill and alarms kept blaring. I jumped every time they sounded.

We were to meet our tour operator from Unique Tahiti Tours at 12:15. At 11:30, it started to rain heavily. I packed our rain gear and switched from my DSLR camera to my waterproof camera. However, by 12:15, the shower was now just sprinkles.

Tracey pulled up in her very nice Mercedes van at 12:20. There were 2 other couples waiting for her also – two people from the ship and a honeymooning couple that just happened to contact her that morning about a tour possibility. She said if they could meet her at the port and didn’t want a private tour, they could join us. They would be flying to Bora Bora the next day.

Tracey was British but she also held French citizenship. She was divorced from a Tahitian and had three adult children. She had lots of knowledge about the culture, history, current events and was an expert driver in all the crazy traffic.

Our tour was an East Coast tour. We drove briefly to some parts of the city and then headed out of town.

Saw a cemetery for the Chinese people who came here to live and work. There is still a large Chinese population on Tahiti.

Next was a Tapa cloth-making factory and boutique. She said Tahitians like to dress very colorfully. They do not understand visitors who prefer solid colors of black, navy, tan, etc.

Next was a spot that held monuments to Cook, Christianity, and the Mutiny on the Bounty. Also, where people come to relax, swim, picnic, and fish. Was the spot of the only lighthouse on Tahiti.

Went into the Valley and saw a spectacular waterfall and a lava blowhole. You could sit on a rock outside the hole. You never saw the water, but you could hear it rush in and the force of the wind would knock your hat off. It could also knock you off the rock if you weren’t careful.

We saw the black sand beach.

She took us to a Tiki carving master. He makes them all sizes. He was working on a very large one. He didn’t speak English, but Tracey asked him in French who was the recipient. He said it was for a Russian super yacht. We saw several very large yachts at the dock, so I wonder if it was for one of them.

The young honeymooners were having a “discussion” about purchasing one of the smaller statues. The woman wanted it, but the man said it would put them over the luggage weight limit. She thought it would not. He said “okay, get it.” While she was in purchasing her statue, the other men in our group told him that he made the right choice.

We saw some creepy blue-eyed eels. The eyes were small, but they were definitely blue instead of black.

She had us back to the ship at 4:00. It was a very informative tour. She didn’t hesitate to answer any question we had – no topic was off limits – political, historical, economic, or personal. I wish now we had signed up for her whole day tour.

Travel Trivia

Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Papeete pronounced: Päpēˈētē

The name Papeete means “water from a basket” and is the capital of Tahiti.

Papeete is mentioned in the songs “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash; and “Somewhere Over China” by Jimmy Buffett.

The Pearl Museum on Tahiti is the only museum in the world devoted entirely to pearls.

The word tattoo originated in Tahiti. The legend of Tohu, the god of tattoo, describes painting all the oceans’ fish in beautiful colors and patterns.

People in Polynesia didn’t believe that tattoos were merely art or decoration. They thought that a tattoo could display a person’s spiritual power. Even today, Polynesian tattoo designs are to be unique to each person’s own story.

Polynesian tattoos basically use two kind of symbols and patterns: some of them are considered tapu, which means “sacred”, while others are considered noa, or “common, not sacred”.

Tapu elements should only be used by people who are entitled to them by family and descent, after proper ceremonies are held, while everyone else should only use noa elements for their tattoos.

People considering getting a Polynesian design should not just copy someone’s design because it is considered stealing their story. However, creating a Polynesian tattoo that tells one’s own story and being able to say what it represents, acknowledges and respects the importance of such tattoo and therefore it is not seen as disrespectful. It shows appreciation and admiration for Polynesian art and culture.

Some Common Polynesian Tattoo Symbols –

Shark teeth are one among the foremost common figures in Polynesian tattoos. This pattern symbolizes shelter or cover, orientation, power, ferocity, and adaptableness.

Spearheads symbolize combativeness and courage.

The ocean can often signify ideas like life, and continuity through change. 

The tortoise symbolizes strength, health, peace, and longevity in life.

The gecko or lizard is a logo of luck and fortune.

 The stingray represents adaptation, gracefulness, danger, agility, speed, and stealth.

*Travel trivia provided by Wikipedia and Holland American Line documents

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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