Day 120: Rain Stops Plane

Tues. 11th December 2012

Our plane going nowhereThe first two hours of today (i.e. midnight to 2am) were spend waiting at the airport hoping for a plane. Immigration is still shut so we all sit either in the cafeteria or the seats around the check in area. There are no announcements so we wait for rumours to spread around. There is a flurry of activity at the check in desks as suitcases are returned to their owners and people gravitate outside where local minibuses and pickup trucks are arriving. Amongst the chaos the plane arrives and those in transit from Santiago join us.

Puku Vai HotelIt turns out the weather is so bad in Tahiti so the plane can go no further tonight. It is great to see how the local hotel owners turn out in the middle of the night and six passengers go one way and another group somewhere else. We have a lovely room at a hotel 2 minute drive/5 minute walk from the airport on the road out of town, but our heads hit the pillow and we sleep soundly until the alarm at 8am for breakfast. We tuck in to a hearty breakfast not sure when and where the next meal will be as we think we will be taking off at 1pm. However it is a three course lunch at the hotel, pickup at 3pm and flight at 5pm, all paid for by LAN.

Impromtu show at Easter Island AirportThe security check at the airport did not open until 4pm so again we hung around in the check in area but this time with the entertainment of a group of locals singing and dancing traditional style. It was good to finally be on the plane sipping champagne ready for take off. I did get to see The Bourne Legacy at last, as with the originally proposed 2am flight time I had been debating whether to watch the film or sleep.

Arrival at Papeete was very straightforward, just a quick scan of Dave’s passport and a glance at mine and we were through – the benefits of an EU passport extend out to French Polynesia. I’m not sure whether or not I’m happy not to have another stamp in my passport. Tahiti would be a good stamp to have, but we are running short on blank pages in our passports. We had already worked out that we were too late for the last ferry to Moorea Island tonight and no chance of a plane either, so we were resigned to stay in Papeete tonight. We picked up the local map and tourist guide and asked the lady at the information desk to ring and book the place advertised which was close to the ferry port. She rang and handed the phone straight to Dave who had to quickly switch his brain from English and Spanish into French! We keep saying hola instead of bonjour.

There were plenty of taxis on hand at the airport and a very chatty and helpful lady gave us a lift to Ahitea Lodge at the end of a dark bumpy track in the middle of town. There was no reception just a long kitchen table which seated about 20 people and a quarter of the seats were occupied with an assortment of family and guests. It appeared to be popular with visitors from other islands in the area as we were half introduced to them. The room was basic but at least it had a bed. A bit annoying paying for two hotels for tonight, but this is the first major transport problem we have had.

Having already had three substantial meals today we decide against eating again even though it is only 6pm Tahiti time. There is a five hour time difference between Tahiti and Easter Island so we could be awake early tomorrow. We decide to go for a walk around town to keep us awake for as long as possible, so we head out between the downpours of rain.

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