Just the most wonderful night’s sleep, but unfortunately interrupted too soon – Manate (that being his name) works on the boats, + so has to be at work early. A wonderful surprise, to have fresh bread, butter + meat, + hot coffee for breakfast. Absolutely the height of luxury for us, especially, I think, the butter. Manate then shot off to work, but first he took us round to (I think) his brother-in-law’s, + arranged for his niece Patricia to put us on the bus. Which she did. The people on the bus – the buses here are converted trucks; plenty comfortable enough, + numerous – were very kind, giving us instructions as to where to catch the return, + at what time. Manate had made it clear, you see, that we were to return – we couldn’t have been more delighted. The advantages of having somewhere safe to put our bags alone we would have paid for.
In town, there were 2 business matters to take care of first: to check the bank for our money (it hadn’t arrived), and the post office for some mail for Dave. He was surprised, + bitterly disappointed, to find none there. It seems they only keep mail for 15 days, so God only knows why they say in the cruising guide to use poste restante. I can really sympathise with Dave – getting mail is so much one of the highlights of the traveller’s life that to be deprived of it is a real body-blow.
For the rest of the day we cruised around the shops – we’ve been away for so long from all the things that shops offer, that their attraction is strong. Papeete is a real city, in every sense. Our first impressions were favourable tho’ – it seemed clean yet lively. The market was good too, tho’ very pricey. We bought milk, bread + fruit for lunch, + sat down next to where they were selling all these huge watermelons to eat it. Val’s eye has got much worse, but we’ve bought some drops + started to give them to her. We took a stroll along past the yachts, but we prevaricated, + didn’t do any asking. Dave met a woman off a sailboat that he’d met in Mexico, and she was able to tell us about the local yacht club, about 3 miles away. We tried to walk to it, but had no luck whatsoever. I think we were somewhat handicapped by the fact that we were looking for the Bora Bora Yacht Club, that being the name Dave’s friend had given us. It was only when we abandoned our search because of the pressure of time that we discovered that the Bora Bora Yacht Club was where it should properly be – on Bora Bora, + that we should have been asking for the Tahiti Yacht Club. Which seems sensible, of course.
We caught the bus back to Manate’s without any trouble, + in the evening he cooked us a stew of corned beef + greens with rice, + then we talked. At least Manate + Val talked a good deal – Dave’s French is almost non-existent, + I was too tired to contribute. Manate is a sailor, he has a wife + child on another island, he dislikes any + every thing French. He took us down to his brother-in-law’s to watch television, but no-one was in. He seems determined to give us a good time, anyway.
So, at last, we get to see famed Polynesian hospitality at first hand, overcoming the rather less positive reception we received on the boat. We really have fallen on our feet, and don’t really have any idea what we would have done had we been forced onto our own resources. Polynesia is by no means cheap, but they do seem to have a greater tolerance for the itinerant lifestyle.
But back to boat-hunting. We seem to have been rather complacent about it all, but we were in something of a fix, with not enough money to travel on by conventional means – ie air travel – let alone also having enough money for the incoming country to let us in. Still, we thought, something would turn up… and I suppose we always thought we could throw ourselves on the resources of either the British government, or, more likely, our mothers.
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