From other photos of other places, some vestiges of Gauguin’s Tahitian paradise remain in the hills and on the beaches, but not in downtown Papeete. I hadn’t read up on it beforehand so was surprised to pull into port yesterday and see dozens of oil tanks and a few tankers, French military ships, cranes, yacht haulers and other usual large-port contrivances. The visit started off impressively when our self-proclaimed designated driver and his band of experts backed this 745-foot beauty into our spot alongside North Finger Pier 1.
Wikivoyage: ‘Papeete is not a tropical paradise. It is a typical government center and industrial port with small doses of French and Polynesian charm. It has shopping, eating, and drinking, but very little sightseeing for a capital city.’
There are only a few ‘old’ buildings dating from the city’s founding in the early 1800s, like the Town Hall, below.. The rest are purely functional and dilapidated and share no architectural ‘look.’
Last night’s SRO entertainment was a local ukuleles-drum-singer-dancers program called O Tahiti E. Spirited, to say the least. The fellow on the left was very happy I chose to photograph him and not concentrate just on the male dancers. He of course did not know that I am a ukuholic.
I ended up with no good photos of the women’s faces but their hair is so spectacular, not to mention their hips, I settled for this one. As you can see, the men all moved fast.
Had I read up and planned better, I would have signed on for today’s catamaran sailing jaunt. Instead I did the 2-hour town walkabout. Tried out my French again in several shops, searching for a new mini portable charger for my portable, to no avail.
As I was leafing through gaily colored cover ups on racks along the sidewalks, the 6-foot shop salesperson bonjour’ed me in a lilting feminine voice. Our cruise director and today’s guide had explained that in Polynesian cultures, transgenders are not only accepted, they are intentionally ‘created’: if a woman already has children and another boy is born, he might be raised as a girl to help the mother mother the other children. It is, of course, more sociologically complicated than that.
At the central open market…
I saved the best for last. Gauguin lives on in this beautiful and elegant Tahitian woman, one of our tour guides. #