Between a broken daggerboard (snapped clean off at the foil), work-work for both of us, ukulele classes for Maia and a variety of miscellaneous repairs the days have been disappearing in Tahiti and our French Polynesian visas have almost run out.
Although it’s obviously not an idyllic atoll and pretty much the anti-thesis to what people imagine when you say South Pacific (afternoon rush hour traffic is just one clue we’re not in Tahenea anymore)—we’ve been enjoying Papeete. Part cosmopolitan city, part seedy port town and part small village (which takes an extra long lunch then shuts down at 4:30 pm…), Papeete is about the same size as La Paz, BCS and as friendly as a Polynesian town gets. Hardly a day passes when we aren’t offered a ride back to the marina, a papaya or some sort of assistance.
Town itself is a haphazard collection of shops which mostly sell pearls, fabric, cheap Chinese goods and (if you look hard enough) most of what you need to get. There is also the best stocked hardware store we’ve seen since the US and the famous Carrefore grocery store—which comes complete with an entire aisle for chocolate and another for cheese—was worth crossing the Pacific for.
Most boats spend longer in Tahiti then they plan. Part of the reason is when you are doing errands, by bus, in a foreign language, with people who don’t have the same sense of urgency as you—stuff just takes a while. The other aspect is that by the time you’ve come this far you’re part of a close-knit community and if you’re not working on your own broken stuff, you’re helping someone else work on their broken stuff. Which means a 3-day stay morphs quickly into a two-week stay. And before you know it, you know Papeete really well.
All is not work though—there is a reason that Tahiti figures in fantasies of paradise—and between taking a day off to dive a plane wreck, or wander the shops and sit in a side-walk café, or go for a hike in the near-by hills the days trickle away.