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Updated Nov 18, 2006......................................................................................

Tahiti

9/20/06 - 9/19/06 — Pueu Village

Ack! The girls woke up at 6:00 am today because they were playing with the radio alarm clock last night and accidentally turned on the alarm. It was a long day because it was a travel day. Our flight was only five hours, but it was eleven hours door to door. We arrived at the bungalow at 10:30 pm, which was only 8:30 pm per our body clocks, but the girls fell asleep in the car for about 30 minutes since they woke up so early. Our car was really tiny since I got the smallest car possible to save money—car rentals are really expensive in Tahiti—but it’s fun for the short distances.

We found the bungalow with no problems although it was dark and the sign was really well hidden. I was a little worried at first since we drove past some incomplete, over-grown buildings, but the bungalow was very nice. The only problem is that there are no mosquito screens or nets, so I’m sure Annette is going to get bitten. It’s been so nice not having to deal with mosquitoes for the past few months. A friendly lizard also found it’s way inside and was lounging on our pillow. I told the kids it was no big deal so that they would fall asleep, but I have to admit, I pulled the sheets up high over my head when I got in bed.

9/20/06—Pueu Village—Day 1

The girls woke up just before 8:00 am, but that’s only 6:00 am per their body clocks. We took it easy all day long and hung around the property for most of the day. Darren took the girls out for a little ride on a kayak this afternoon. The girls also joined the host family to do some fishing from the deck and Annette actually caught a fish. The fish was little so we threw it back in, but we got some good pictures first.

Dominique canoe
Annette canoe
Annette fishing

9/21/06—Pueu Village—Day 2

We had a really relaxing day today. The girls played around the owner’s house and Darren and I sat on the deck and read books with the ocean ten meters away. The owners are so nice. The lady is a retired school teacher and I think she enjoys having the girls around since she offered to watch them. They went fishing and swimming, watched some cartoons, and had several sweet treats, which of course the girls loved. We went to check on them a few times and the owner shoed Darren away, and the girls told me I was not needed since they were enjoying playing with some of the older girls.

We went exploring for a little bit today. We’re in the southern portion of Tahiti which is not at all touristy, so it was mostly just local houses. The island reminds me of Cayman in many ways (except poorer), especially Cayman’s eastern side where there is little tourism. The road drives right along the ocean. The houses are still the local houses, not the millionaire’s homes, but they have incredible views. It’s so nice to find land that would be so expensive in other places which hasn’t yet been developed.

We went to the store in the afternoon to get something for dinner. It’s a very small store with limited selection and most things are in French, so it was hard to find things. The broccoli was brown and we couldn’t find potatoes, so we went with steak and rice. When we were cooking dinner, the owner brought us four fish fillets, so we also had those for dinner. It was actually great timing since the steak was really tough. I think it’s safer to stick to seafood on the island.

9/22/06—Pueu Village—Day 3

The girls were so excited when they woke up since the owner promised to make them dresses today, so they quickly had breakfast, got dressed and went to see the owner—all by 8:00 am. The lady was sitting on the porch with her sewing machine when the girls got there. Later in the day she also gave the girls flower crowns and necklaces—they looked so pretty. Tomorrow the family said that they will teach the girls how to dance.

Dominique dress
Annette dress
new dress

We did a little more exploring today. The beaches are really not very pretty. They’re very narrow and mostly black volcanic sand, and there’s a lot of trash. We were going to eat at a restaurant near the beach (really a shack with a blue tarp covering the plastic tables and chairs), but the dishes were over $20 each, so we opted to get cheese and crackers at the local store and have a picnic on the beach.

Darren and I had a chance to do some more relaxing this afternoon. The girls played with the family and their toys all afternoon. They’re really enjoying themselves here. The family really is making this a pleasant stay for us with their wonderful hospitality.

I put the girls to bed early since they’ve been falling asleep late, waking up early and they’ve not been able to nap during the day. They’re doing well because of the excitement of being here, but I can tell that the lack of sleep is catching up with Annette because she’s more apt to cry.

9/23/06—Pueu Village—Day 4

Well, my ‘sleep catch-up plan’ didn’t work. Annette woke up at 6:00 am and Dominique woke up at 6:30 am. They heard the family laughing at 7:00 am so they wanted to go and play with them right away (I held them back until the little boy came to visit at 7:30 am). Both girls put on their new dresses as soon as they woke up. Dominique is so excited about learning how to dance today.

We did some more exploring to the top of the mountain to have a good view of the island. The road got as narrow as a bike path at one point since it was over-grown with vines, and then the road completely disappeared under the vines so we had to do a U-turn. Unfortunately, our 1 litre car engine couldn’t handle a U-turn on the steep road, so we had a hard time getting out. Fortunately, another car was also there, so the other driver helped to push us back up the hill. That was a little more excitement than I was looking for today. It brought back memories of getting stuck in the Addo Elephant park.

The teenagers weren’t around to teach Dominique how to dance, but the nice lady of the house showed us how to make flower necklaces. Dominique did a great job making one all by herself. The family has invited us to lunch tomorrow, so maybe Dominique will be able to learn to dance there.

necklace
necklace

9/24/06—Pueu Village—Day 5

Ack! We’re losing ground on the sleep challenge. The girls woke up before 6:00 am this morning and they didn’t even go to bed early or take a nap yesterday. I think it’s because the sun comes up so early since Annette keeps saying it’s time to wake up. I hope the sun rises a little later in Easter Island.

Victor took us and four other guests out on a boat ride this morning. We left at 9:30 and didn’t get back until 12:30, so I spent three hours trying to keep the girls from getting fried since there was no shade on the boat. It was really interesting to see how un-developed the coast was—there were a lot of local houses, but almost all were very poor with rusted corrugated metal and tarps. In the southern part of the island we saw the shacks of the true isolationists—there’s no road, so the only way to reach them is by boat. The girls did OK but we were all glad to get off. The good news is that we all survived without getting fried.

When we got back, the family treated us to a local lunch of fish and local vegetables, which were all delicious. It’s great to have a meal with a lot of diversity since it’s hard for us to be too creative with our limited kitchens. After lunch we packed up to move on to our next accommodation. The girls were very sad to leave Victor and his family. They really enjoyed their time there. They really made our trip to Tahiti special.

It only took us about thirty minutes to reach our new lodge. I picked this place because it looked very artistic on the internet and it was up on a hill rather than right by the ocean like Pueu Village. The bungalow really was incredible—all open-air with native wood and thatched roof, and an amazing view of the ocean. Unfortunately it rained for the rest of the afternoon, but the girls had fun playing around the bungalow since it looks more like a fancy tree house. I hope it doesn’t rain here every afternoon. When we were at Pueu Village on the other side of the island, we saw rain clouds forming over the mountain every day, but we didn’t get the rain. It’s also much less breezy here since it’s the leeward side of the island, but fortunately there don’t seem to be too many mosquitoes.

cool house

9/25/06—Vanira Lodge—Day 1

Ack! We’re going further backwards on the sleep plan. The girls woke up at 5:30 am today. The bungalow is open-air so there’s a lot of light, so that’s probably what happened. At least they took a nap to make up for it.

We had a really low-key day today since we’ve explored much of the island. We played around the bungalows, went swimming, and did some art. Unfortunately, this place is not as much fun as Pueu Village since there are no other guests, and the owners are not as involved with their guests as the Pueu Village family. It’s much tougher on Darren and me to keep the kids entertained too. We were really lucky to spend most of our time in Tahiti at Pueu Village.

9/26/06—Vanira Lodge—Day 2

A tropical storm came in over night with heavy winds and rain, and we discovered the downside to having an open-air bungalow. The winds knocked a number of things over in the night so I hardly slept. The rain came in all over the ground floor—fortunately I moved the suitcases so they didn’t get wet. Unfortunately, the weather woke the girls up at 5:30 am again—ack! Fortunately we had another good nap day, so it all worked out in the end.

It continued to rain all day, so we went exploring just to get out of the house. We tried to find the leper colony but were unsuccessful. Apparently the lepers are no longer contagious, but they also don’t seem to be a well marketed tourist attraction, so we missed them.

9/27/06—Papeete

We were really fortunate that we could have a late check-out from the bungalow, so it allowed us to take our time getting to the airport and also have the girls take a nap. Only Annette napped, but it was one of her best ever—2.5 hours—it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We left the bungalow around 4:00 pm and arrived at the airport around 6:00 pm, where we began our six hour wait for our mid-night flight. It was a long wait, but the girls were great watching a couple of movies, so we made it. The plane was a little late leaving, but the girls fell asleep right away around 1:30 am. Thank goodness the adrenaline from the airports keeps them going. They slept for the whole flight, so they were able to sleep for about four hours.


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