August 19th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Local beer, almost certainly the same beer that we drank with Doug

Pulled in to Papeete at about 2 am, at which, of course, there was a mass exodus.  All except for us, who just lay in the middle of it all waiting for it to pass.  I did take advantage of the space available to crawl into a bunk, so spent the rest of the night in relative comfort.  Val was disturbed at regular intervals by people wanting our space, + thrusting mats upon her to use as land markers.  Generally, I think she accepted all claims, leaving it to them to fight later for actul possession.

Come morning, we slowly pulled first ourselves, + then our belongings together, + headed off to town pretty much laden down.  Stopped off at the Maire, where we saw Manate working, but he told us to come out tomorrow morning, so we plodded on to the camp-site in town.  When we arrived there, we found 2 English guys cooking up breakfast, so we sat around, drank tea, + talked with them for quite a while.  One was called Tom, |+ he was a bit clever-clever, the way English people can be when you first meet them, tho’ wasn’t too bad when you got to know him – he’s heading west.  The other was black (or brown, really, from Mauritius originally) called Phil, + heading the opposite way – he seemed to us to be much nicer.  Both of them are travellers on cheap, multiple-destination tickets, something we’d never heard of when we started our travels, but certainly something that it seems worthwhile exploring.

Left to go + get some business done, + saw Doug McAlpine, the Kiwi we’d met in Panama, in a restaurant, so stopped for a chat.  Almost immediately he told us he was looking for crew, + virtually offered us the job on the spot – absolutely stunning.  Tho’ my greatest immediate emotion was not so much elation for ourselves as pity for Dave, who was also sitting at the table when the offer was made.  Not that we’d done him down in any way, + it had always been likely that if a yacht berth became available, it wouldn’t be for 3 people.  But still…

I knew Dave might well become disheartened, + fly home, or something like that.  Still…

We trotted on to the bank, Doug having first invited us to come out to the boat for dinner, + both Val + Dave had money waiting.  In fact, Val’s mum had sent £400 instead of the £150 we’d asked for.  We then returned to the camp-site, where we had a leisurely (+ delicious) lunch of ham sandwiches washed down with milk.  We shopped in the afternoon, Val buying herself a new pareo, then said cheerio to Dave and went off to Thyme for dinner.  And really we had an excellent evening.

On the business side, we are to pay $5 a day each, + we leave at the end of the month.  Doug expects the trip to take at the outside six weeks to New Zealand with one stopover for a week at Rarotonga in the Cooks.  And, if we’re agreeable, perhaps we’ll look after the boat for a week or two when we arrive.  All of which seems fine to us.  Even more encouraging was the general feeling of friendliness we received.  Doug has opinions about things that matter, he also has a good sense of humour, he also is not short of money, + not ungenerous.  We drank a fair quantity of rum, + he also cooked a delicious kidney stew.  So one way + another we were well pleased – tho’ we seem to have got over the sort of excitement we used to feel about yachts… Alpha Centauri, for example.

When we got back to the camp-site, Dave, Tom, Phil + Pat, an American guy, were all a bit stoned, so we, being very definitely unstoned, were rather out of things.  So we went to bed shortly thereafter.

It really does remind one of those Saturday morning serials at the pictures – “With one bound, they were free!!” And felt like that at the time, for that matter. We had become very weary of the search for a yacht to take us off the island, and were starting to lose interest in the whole business. Had begun to mull over the alternative, which meant flying on, to Australia or New Zealand, if either of them were likely to accept us. Not that we had the money for that, or for any commercial way of exiting the country, having flown – or rather sailed – under the Polynesian radar designed specifically to stop people like us. And then Doug appears, Fairy Godmother like (only better, since he offered beer, rum, and dinner, as well as a way out.) Not that any of that made us feel better about Dave, but this was always likely to happen one way or the other. In justice, Dave ought to have had the better chance, being a proper sailor, and just the one of him, but we had Val, and for someone like Doug, that was always going to be an attraction. The fact that we had met him already was also a big help, for he knew that we got along, and that I was someone with a sense of humour.

The result was that we had prospects once again. And though Doug did not want to leave for a while yet, that too suited us well, for we could relax and enjoy Tahiti for a little while.

I have just realised that I might have given the wrong impressions about both Doug and Val. Doug was not (anti-plot spoiler here) at all untoward in his behaviour with Val, though he did enjoy female company; and Val too has a sense of humour. How else could she live with me?

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