Two days after leaving Pitcairn Island we reached a very cloudy and subsequently rainy Papeete on Saturday morning. Papeete is a somewhat modern city. We’d planned on doing a bit of shopping after our excursion today but found out that all the stores close at 1:00 pm on Saturday and don’t reopen until Monday! So no shopping today.
We were greeted at the dock by a local group of Tahitian musicians/ singers. Around the corner we were met by a more polished group of singers and dancers. Between the two I preferred the local group and their music as it seemed to be played from the heart.
Our excursion today was a trip around the island. There is one main two lane highway(?) and it took us about 6 hours to go all the way around the island with several stops along the way.
Our first stop was at the writer James Norman Hall’s house. (Here’s a question for you: what does Hall have to do with a restaurant in Van Nuys, CA? Read on.)
James Hall was an American born in Colfax, Iowa. He was in England in 1914 when WWI started. He posed as a Canadian and joined the British Army. He was discharged after his true nationality was discovered. In 1916 he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps of the famous Lafayette Escadrille that trained American volunteers to serve in regular French squadrons. When America entered the war in 1917 he was transferred to the Army Air Service into the 94th Aero Squadron (Whew! At last! The tie-in to the Van Nuys 94th Aero Squadron restaurant). He was also a highly decorated pilot by the French and American governments. It was during this time he met fellow pilot Charles Nordhoff.
After the war both Hall and Nordhoff eventually moved to Tahiti where they collaborated on a series of books, the most famous of which is “Mutiny On The Bounty”. The subsequent movies about the Bounty are based on this book.
Hall had two children. His son, Conrad Hall, became a cinematographer in Hollywood and won 3 Academy Awards for his work on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “American Beauty”, and “Road To Perdition”.
Lastly, the fruit you see in the picture above are breadfruits. The tree bearing this fruit is an offshoot from one of the three surviving trees taken from Tahiti and delivered to Jamaica by Captain Bligh of Bounty fame on his second voyage in 1799!
Next up was lunch! We visited a private home owned by a couple who host private functions there. They had set up a large tent with tables and chairs, all decorated with local plants and flowers many of which came from their gardens (top two flowers below). They had a large buffet of local faire which included Poisson Cru (a fish dish similar to Ceviché), taro, breadfruit, Coconut bread, assorted other tropical fruit, and, three main dish courses of chicken, fish, and beef. The food was great. In the garden was a giant Banyan tree. You can see how it dwarfs Paul.
After lunch we continued our trip eventually stopping at “Jardin de Vaipahi”, a man-made water garden surrounding a beautiful waterfall with lovely gardens. We also saw some very beautiful flowers (bottom two flowers below). I don’t think I’ve ever seen the flower on the left.
Shortly after we left the Gardens, we arrived back in Papeete. It was a great day and we saw some great scenery throughout the day.
Paul and I had heard that food trucks setup in a Park right by our ship and we looked forward to trying some Polynesian fast food. Alas it was not to be for as soon as we got back to the ship, the winds started blowing and it began to rain cats and dogs! Instead we ate on the ship. While the storm was howling outside, we were entertained by a local cultural group with Tahitian songs and dances.
All in all it was a great day visit to Tahiti. Tomorrow we visit the island of Mo’orea.