That's farewell Richard, Thank You in Tahitian. Richard (Soby) is on his way back to the states for some rest! And, you no longer have a guest blogger – you're back having to read Barbara's and Michael's entries. Thank you Richard for posting so many entries!
Our last day together was spent in a rental car circumnavigating Tahiti Nui (the big island). We hit all the scenic and historical sites along the outer perimeter road. We started at the Museum of Tahiti and Its Islands. This was a very interesting spot with lots of great artifacts, old photographs and a good history of the islands culture, religion and everyday lifestyles. It also included a brief but good overview of the geology of the islands, and the diversity of the area's birds, fish, plants and coral. A different part of the museum had a history of the various dance costumes used in the annual competitions – Heiva 'I Tahiti. From there, we made our way along the waterfront road to the Marae Arahurahu. This is a beautiful example of an ancient, traditional Polynesian temple with its multiple tiers, tikis, altar, and leaning stones. It was being decorated on the day we were there for some type of event. They were putting up long colorful banners on bamboo, had tiki torches ready to go and lots of beautiful shell embedded posts. From that impressive site, we continued to the Maraa Grottos. Here we saw three lovely, deep caverns that were sculpted with live ferns and dripping cool water. The gardens were filled with water lilies, pink and red ginger flowers and lots of tropical plants. It was very pretty – and across the street – a magnificent view of a big surf break and the Pacific beyond. After a stop at a well hidden fruit stand, we continued our drive in search of a lunch spot. We were hoping for a roulotte – the food vans, but we settled on a restaurant/snack stop. It was quite tasty and inexpensive (by Tahiti standards). From there we were looking for the Arahoho Blowhole which is supposed to be quite a sight if the tides and swell is right. But for our visit as Richard said, "the blowhole sucked." It was barely a spray. Then we ventured to Point Venus – this is the promontory that marks the Bay of Matavai eastern end. This is the bay favored by early European explorers like Cook and "The Bounty" with Captain Bligh. Point Venus gets its name because this is where Capt. Cook watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun to calculate the distance between earth and sun (not successfully). This and the Bounty's arrival are both the subject of monuments in the park which also has a lovely old lighthouse.
After this spot we made our way back. Michael did a great job getting us through the many "roundabouts" without incidence. It was a really fun day and we all learned a lot. Back to Astarte we rested up, Richard packed up and we were ready for a VERY early wake up call to get Richard to the airport on time. He definitely didn't want to miss his 0800 flight so we were up and about at 0415. he got checked in and off through security and we hope had a safe and uneventful trip back to Norfolk.
We figured he came to see us for some rest – but we did go non-stop for his visit. We did a walking tour of Papeete. He saw lots of Polynesian cultural activities – dancing and music. We ate where the locals eat at the food vans – the roulottes. He helmed the sailboat Astarte as we raced (though it really wasn't a race) from Tahiti to Moorea. He raced outrigger canoes as part of a six-man team. He watched dancing, singing, music, fruit races, coconut husking, tug of wars. He dinghied at sunset and hiked to one end of the bay of Opunohu Bay; got jostled on the rough roads on a Moorea tour, sampled rum at the distillery at 10 am; saw the agriculture school, shrimp farms, pineapples, mountains, ancient temples and viewpoints on both Moorea and Tahiti. He snorkeled with sharks and stingrays. He even did some snorkeling. He "enjoyed" music from shore and the nearby tiki huts 'til midnight (even disco fever – mirror ball and YMCA!). He experienced the excitement of a hard blowing squall at night with boats dragging anchor. He helped rescue a young local kid from a broken outrigger. In between, we ate well, had a few laughs and enjoyed his company. It started with lost luggage (found the next day) and ended up with an early departure. He probably only wanted to sit on Astarte and enjoy watching the world swim, sail or float by. Instead he got all of the above and a few beautiful sunsets.
Mauruuru Richard – thank you for coming all this way to see us and for spending your time with the crew of Astarte. We really do appreciate it!