August 21st 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0

Managed to get ourselves moving at a respectable hour this morning.  Not that we missed out on our breakfast.  That has become our new ritual.  Found a bus to take us out to Gauguin’s museum, a long way out, 40 kms or so.  And, contrary to our expectations, the museum was not free on Saturdays, so it proved an expensive outing.  Still, I don’t mind paying for things if I feel I am getting my money’s worth, + I’d say that this time we did.  There weren’t any actual Gauguin paintings present, which I’ve heard other people complain about, but I think that that would change the whole atmosphere.  At the moment, it is pleasantly informal – a valuable work of art in the place would destroy that.  The museum has plenty of interest without needing the vicarious thrill of a million pounds on the wall.  One section chronicles his life (not quite exhaustively enough), another analyses the source + symbolism of some of his work, another notes the distribution of his works around the world, there was a small gallery of works by other artists…  And the whole place has a peaceful, rural aspect, bordering on the sea, + set in a botanical garden.

We hitched back to town, + found it all surprisingly easy.  First a ride in the back of a pick-up with a group of welders.  There wasn’t a lot of room, so we had to hang on, he drove very fast, + it started to rain, so it wasn’t the most comfortable of rides, but it was exhilarating.  They dropped us at a café where we bought ice-creams, + then immediately obtained another ride.  Some very kind Tahitian ladies, in another pick-up.  They cleared off the bench in the back for us, + we shared a fast, joyful ride into Papeete with their little dog.  We strolled back towards the big supermarket near the campsite, and as it wasn’t yet open, sat on the steps + played yum.  Then, our shopping done, we strolled + spent a lazy afternoon lazing around.  It was only later that we noticed the absence of the camera.  I shot smartly back to the supermarket where, to my intense relief, they were keeping it safe – we’d left it on the steps after our game of yum.  Boo-boo-be-doo.

Tom, the sole remaining Englishman (Phil having flown out the other day) returned later with some cheese he’d knocked off.  I don’t like him very much.  He steals most of his food, which is his own business, but he also steals from acquaintances… I think he also freeloads a good deal off us.  Alright, he doesn’t have much money, but then neither do we.  Still, retribution comes to the wicked – his expensive cheese was crawling with maggots.  Later on, I got around to cooking – one of my specialities, spaghetti Bolognese.  And tho’ it took quite a while, I must say it was pretty good.  Tho’ possibly the taste was enhanced by the bottle of wine we knocked back beforehand.  Quite an effect it had on empty stomachs.  And then we had 2 guests immediately afterwards – Dick, an American insurance salesman on the first leg of a trip round the world.  And Beverley, an American just returning to the States after teaching kindergarten in Singapore for 5 years.  Tom annoyed me (as usual) by being clever-clever, assertive, + know-it-all about things he didn’t know about, but the conversation was given some variety that way – with our new minds, I mean.

No idea how many times our camera was left somewhere, and then retrieved, reliant upon the honesty of the local population. My usual snap judgments on the people we met, though maybe everyone does that; I just happen to have mine written down and preserved for posterity… and the judgment of current readers. But we do seem to have fallen in with life at the camp-site, and it is always good to have more varied company – Val and I are together pretty much every second, so both need different conversation from time to time.

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