July 20th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Gauguin’s grave

No, you don’t find out yet.  Be patient.  This morning we all went ashore.  It’s usual when entering a country for the captain to go ashore alone to arrange official entry, but we understood that this time officialdom, in the shape of the local gendarmerie, is quite a way, so we decided to combine offices + all go in to fetch provisions as well.  Stan + Karen came in with us, with Elizabeth, their baby, so we all walked in together.  Quite a walk too – for some reason the town, Atuona, is about 1 and a half miles from the port – I suppose it was built long before any thought was given to boats of any size – + we didn’t really have our land legs screwed on properly.  In any case, when we arrived, first stop was the Gendarmerie.  However, Jack hadn’t brought in all the papers that were required, but fortunately they didn’t seem to mind, + just told us to come back tomorrow.

Next, we had to brave the bank, to change some money.  I say this because we had heard all sorts of reports from a variety of sources, about the lady in the bank, + about how rude, unpleasant, + obstructive she was, insisting, for example, that people return at different times for no good reason.  However, when we arrived no-one was in, but according to the sign on the wall they were open, so we slid back the door + went in.  It was just a small office, like a secretary’s, but was empty so we sat down + waited.  Fifteen minutes later she appeared + angrily ordered us out – apparently we shouldn’t have gone in.  We waited outside, + 5 minutes later when she drew back the curtain, a large local woman bustled in ahead of us.  Fine.  So we waited.  Quarter of an hour more.  Finally our turn.  In we trotted, + meekly and politely asked if we could change some money.  This afternoon, she said.  We left again, + naturally enough everyone outside wanted to know why she wouldn’t serve us – it was only 10.30 – + I was sent back in to ask.  Ah well.   This time she really blew her top, shouting, screaming, yelling (she told me I wasn’t polite) + shooed me out.  Ho hum.  In a fix now – no money, no food.  Luckily tho’, we discovered that an office almost next door also changed travellers’ cheques, so that was what we did, no trouble at all.  Almost felt like going back + sticking our tongues out at the bitch in the bank.

Took some time to visit Gauguin’s grave (tho’ at first we confused it with a stone street sign.)  He’s in a small run-down cemetery.  Curiously, Jaques Brel is there too.  I like graveyards, especially sleepy ones.  Val doesn’t.  And J + A prefer Forest Lawn – typical.  We all visited a restaurant for lunch – omelettes + wine.  We can’t really afford such luxuries, but…  Shopping in the afternoon, (using our money only, notably.)  Then back to boat, considerably laden down.  On the return journey, Val + I got away from our bosses, + chatted with a guy called Dan, off the Bonnie Lass – very friendly, with a good sense of humour.  In the evening, we went over to visit his boat.  There were 4 of them on it – Jim, Dan, Don. + Louise – + we had a terrific evening, just chatting, laughing, drinking coffee, relaxing… till about 11, when we returned.

People only realised quite how fierce the lady in the bank was when I was sent back in to get some money. Quite clear why we were there – it is clear that Jack and Alma had no money, and so were relying on us to buy provisions. But it was definitely good to have the option of different, and far more congenial, company. I think Jack and Alma had not a shred of a sense of humour between them.and in my book, that’s a serious offence.

However, my apologies once again for almost crowing in delight at keeping the story of this part of the trip from you.

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