As usual, Manate left good + early, leaving us to get our stuff packed. Naturally, we were late (Dave was late) + so missed le truck. This made for a long + not particularly interesting walk into town. However, arrived at the Maire, the ferryboat that Manate was working on, in good time. Here we said farewell to Dave – he was still waiting for his money to arrive so that he could pay his bond, so was staying (somewhere) in Papeete.
A quick run out to Moorea, with one unexpected bonus. The captain asked us who we had come with. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, + didn’t want to get anyone in trouble, so I feigned total ignorance. So he asked us who our friend was, + when we said Manate, he seemed to indicate that that was alright, + we didn’t have to pay. And so it proved.
Once off the boat, we had to make our way to the Hotel Aimeo, which was where we hoped all our mail had arrived. The only way was to hitch a ride, on one of the trucks which was taking produce off the boat, tho’ while we were waiting we received bonus no. 2 – I discovered that the snack van sold bread pudding – not quite as good as mother makes, but at least somewhere in the right direction. The truck was just about jammed to the roof all the way back with boxed of this + cases of that, but somehow we managed to squeeze on, along with 3 French people + the 2 loaders. A fair ride round to the Aimeo, to find an answer to the Big Question – did we have any mail? Val, being the better dressed one, went in, + returned with quite a respectable bundle. We were elated, of course, + dashed off to find somewhere shady to read them. Promptly had our elation deflated a little by dropping the bag containing our bottle of alcohol, breaking it. However…
We received letters from: my mum (several, including an Observer), Kev, Dave J, + Sue C, plus, inside Mum’s letters, from Chris I, Bruce (2), + Brent’s Mum + Dad! None, strangely, from Val’s mum. The news? Nothing overdramatic. Chris I is a priest now, Bruce will be a father soon, Mum had a good holiday, Dave may be off to Ethiopia, Kev was amusing, and, big shock, Sue is now in Australia, having followed Ray Pirret out there. Could be good.
This done, I set out to find a suitable camp-site + some lunch, leaving Val to mind the baggage. Lunch was all I could manage (bread + paste – tres francais), but I did meet 3 guys – 2 Americans + a Canadian – + chatted with them. This was fortunate, for they were friendly with some people nearby, who in turn were able to direct all of us to a good camping site, on a tucked-away beach not far from where we were.
By the time we had set up, + then walked to the store + back for supplies, we were ready for immediate bed, but we stayed up + chatted with our friends for a while. They were nice enough, all members of the Ba’hai faith, so I was able to find out something about that. It doesn’t approve of alcohol, apparently, so that more or less killed it for me. I don’t seriously think I’m looking for a faith, but I don’t mind listening to the commercials.
Another bonus of staying with Manate – free travel! And then recovering our mail after a long period with no contact with home. The Observer is a Sunday newspaper, and Mum had sent pretty much the whole thing, but we devoured every word, even the TV preview. We are still more or less in touch with most of the people listed. Chris has just retired after a lifetime as a vicar, Bruce now lives in Brisbane, Kev in Germany, Val’s brother Dave never made it to Ethiopia, but is looking into driving to Morocco for the winter, and Sue returned from Australia, the relationship with Ray not working out (though he did supply her with two children.)
And then camping on the beach in Polynesia! Well, life could be worse.
Pamela J Blair
I remember those delicious days of visiting Poste Restante and returning with a bundle of letters. Like a gift from God, it seemed, dropped into my arms from thousands of miles away. A feeling that the umbilicus that tied me to my homeland hadn’t yet broken, that people still remembered me. Once in Iran, I lost my watch in Isphahan (the watchband broke, it fell into the street, a car ran over it and a sweet Iranian young man returned it to me, crushed.) In Iraq, at Poste Restante, I received a package from my mother–a watch! She’d sent it the day after my old one had been crushed. How’s that for telepathy? The mother-daughter bond was intact, even though I hadn’t seen her in almost two years.