Happy birthday to Tom, etc, etc. He really is the centre of the camp-site, + I have to say I have changed my mind about him, + really think he’s a good bloke to know. I’m not sure I trust him, at least not about anything important, but he’s amusing (+ that always counts for a lot with me), non-pompous, generous, friendly, + cynical. I like him – would quite enjoy meeting him in a pub again – maybe we will.
We had to pop off to Vaima quite early to meet the French lady. Dave made some noises about joining us, + I’m afraid I discouraged him – I though it might be a bit of a cheek to just turn up with 3. We arrived at the meeting place just before 9, waited in a baking sun. Saw Paul, the Englishman – he hadn’t changed, + was every bit as garrulous as ever. And then our friend arrived, + invited him to come along too. He declined, but I could have kicked myself – Dave could have come too. I nearly asked Claudine (the lady) to go along + pick him up, but I hesitated, + the chance was lost. Ho hum.
Claudine was with 1 daughter + a small son, + drove us out east of Papeete, past Point Venus. We stopped off first at a blowhole, where the pressure of the sea forced water to jet up from the rocks in a hiss of spray. However, the sea was relatively calm today, so it wasn’t very impressive. Next stop was to buy a local… fruit?.. from a roadside vendor, a sort of large chestnut. I wasn’t very impressed, + contrived to throw some of it away.
The waterfall was impressive. A short walk took us to it – a long clear fall into a small pool. A lot of mosquitoes as well, but we weren’t staying long. From there, back to town, tho’ we stopped off at the Taharai, which Val + I pretended we hadn’t visited before, in order not to disappoint our hosts. Claudine showed us a tree from Africa in the grounds, the pod of which produced a treacle-like substance when broken – quite tasty. And then, since she was in a hurry to meet someone, Claudine dropped us off at a supermarket, from which we could take the bus back. The good news was that she presented us with a donut each, plus a necklace each, as gifts – a lovely lady. The former went down very well indeed, especially when combined with milk.
Back at camp, good news from Dave – there was a very good chance he’d found himself a berth on a yacht to New Zealand, what’s more an incredibly luxurious, comfortable yacht, with all the luxuries. What’s more, they would pay expenses – all food + beer! Doesn’t leave for a week, that’s the trouble, + not certain even then, but still, a good chance.
I played football for a while with a couple of local kids – they were really good fun, + good footballers too. Then photo-time – Val had bought herself a grass skirt at lunchtime, + we took a photo of Dave, Tom, Val + me, all dressed up local style. One of the local kids showed me how to put on my pareo as a pair of shorts – tho’ it felt more like a big nappy. I played a game of chess against Tom… + lost (the bastard.) Well’ it is his birthday. I bought a few beers, after which Tom decided to celebrate with a big rum punch. He bought a bottle of rum to start things off, + then we proceeded to squeeze all sorts of fruit into it (as well as aforementioned wine.) And then, by way of change, Val, Dave, l’autre Chris and I went off to buy pizzas. We tried to persuade others to join us, but apathy + poverty played their part. A nice-looking pizza parlour, tho’ I’m afraid the pizzas weren’t up to anything special.
A big crowd around the camp-fire tonight, wolfishly watching us tuck in to our pizzas – for once, I was disinclined to share. Dave had generously provided Tom with one, so the birthday boy was alright. And the punch? Both a success… in that it was strong, + a failure, in that it tasted pretty horrible. There was so much mushed crushed fruit in it that it was christened “the punch with munch”. Val + I bowed out of the general proceedings respectably early.
The usual problems when trying desperately not to offend, is that you manage to mess things up in another way, viz leaving Dave behind. Though if he gets the berth on the NZ yacht, that would be more than ample compensation. “Punch with munch” sounded disgusting, but I don’t suppose it was worse than what one could get at parties, when we were of the age that inebriation was the goal above all others.
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