August 30th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Canoe at sunset

The plan was to leave this afternoon sometime, but that was dependent upon things going well bureaucratically, + otherwise.  Anyway, after breakfast, we all popped along to the gendarmerie.  No trouble there, tho’ Val did have to fill out an extra couple of forms (which were chiefly designed for people flying in, so were largely irrelevant.)  I thought things had gone too smoothly… and of course I was right.  This was only the first of several offices, so we had to work our way round the building, finishing up where we’d begun.  Even then, we weren’t done.  Without any notification, they’d moved Doug’s 2 guns from the office where he’d had to deposit them, to another office, all the way around to the end of the dock.  Not very pleasing.

Anyway, next stop the bank, where Doug reclaimed his bond (less commission of course) + then we split up.  He took a taxi round to get his guns, + Val + I got some vegetables.  We weren’t especially successful, since our major task was to beg, steal or borrow some pamplemousse, the big local grapefruit, + there didn’t seem to be one to be had.  However, we got the rest of the veg, then hurried back to Thyme.  To our surprise, Doug had beaten us back.  Equally so, there was no sign of Manate, either then or later.  I imagine we’d arrived at one of our customary confusions.

The usual for lunch – a few beers, + then back to the supermarket for meat + a few other goodies.  Doug was in no way mean, buying huge chunks of meat to keep us going.  We ran into Dave there, out getting some lunch-time shopping.  I directed him to the porridge oats I’d seen they’d just had delivered – very cheap, + in plastic screw-top containers – the very thing we’d been looking for all the time we’d been there.  Dave seemed to drift away tho’, without us having the chance to say goodbye properly.  He’s a terrific feller, + I hope we get to see him again.

We took the provisions back to the dinghy, + Doug went off to visit some friends (we’d already decided to delay our departure until tomorrow) while we rowed the stuff back + stowed it away, temporarily at least.  Then back into town, so that we could spend the last of our Polynesian money.  Thought about an Hinano glass (Hinano is the local brewery) but eventually we decided on a T-shirt for me.  It took quite a while to find one we liked tho’, + by then the shop was about to close.  As we didn’t have enough cash + no dollars with us, I had to run back to fetch some double quick.  Met Ian on the way, who ran with me – he’s not a bad bloke either.  So, quick row out, then the run back, arriving just in time.  That left us 36 francs, and an ice-cream took 35 of those, so we didn’t do too badly.  Val tried to give the last franc away, but I wouldn’t let her.

Back on the boat, we got a bit nervous when we discovered we couldn’t turn anything electric on – we thought that somehow the boat’s wiring was buggered.  Still, Val got the dinner cooking, enough for everyone in case Doug came back, + we were enjoying the sunset when we were attacked by a plague of flying termites.  It made for a very unpleasant half-hour to have these things crawling over you.  Still, they went away (or were stamped on) in the end, + we wound down again with a rum.  One of the marvellous things about Papeete is that one can sit + watch dozens of canoes of all sizes being paddled past the sun setting over Moorea – it’s marvellous.  And so was the dinner, tho’ it was a long time coming – liver + bacon with potatoes + carrots.  Doing the washing-up in the dark wasn’t quite so great tho’.  Still no sign of Doug, so we assumed he’d get a lift back out, + we went to bed.  I heard him come in, obviously rather drunk, + he managed to switch the lights on with no trouble at all.  Obviously it was us who had a wire loose – we hadn’t switched a battery on.  Ho hum.

I have always assumed that we managed to dodge Polynesian bureaucracy entirely, and that was clearly not the case. Still, the fact that we were now on our way out of the country, and therefore no longer their problem, meant they weren’t too concerned about our earlier invisibility, and there were no issues that I can recall.

Shame somehow to have missed Manate, but that does seem to be par for the course. A more important goodbye. and another one that we managed to mess up, was our farewell to Dave, who had been our salvation in so many ways. We did get to see him again, by the way. Must have been a few years after we returned (sorry, plot-spoiler, yes we do return) he came to England as part of the Vancouver rowing squad, specifically to row in the Henley regatta. We met him in London, and did manage to arrange somewhere for him to stay in London, as he stayed on for a while, working in Covent Garden, but actually it was a bit unsatisfactory; the earlier connections seemed to have faded away. And nothing since then. Such is life.

  1. Pamela Blair

    I think that’s the way with travelers–you become fast friends very quickly, and when you part, you rarely hear from them or even think of them. It happened to me many times. I don’t know what to make of it, but when I think back to those people, it’s always with fondness. I guess it’s a way everyone lives more in the “now” when traveling.

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