Day 121: Catching Up With Ourselves

Wed. 12th December 2012

Not the Tahiti I was expecting!This isn’t how we imagined Tahiti to be! We just avoided a big downpour last night, getting back from our wander around the town of Papeete just before the heavens opened. It seemed to rain all night and as we woke up and pulled back the curtains, it was absolutely torrential. Equally, there is a big difference between the view out of our bedroom window and the pictures on the postcards that you have seen. Still, nothing to be done but to get on with it and make the most of the too little time we have here.

The first thing that we need to do is to catch the ferry over to the island of Moorea where we have a hotel (well what would be a cabaña in Cuba) booked for last night and the next two nights. Whilst the Ahitea Lodge is far from luxurious, it is at least close to the ferry port and so we take advantage of a lull in the rain to load up with backpacks and daypacks and walk down.

Ferry to take us to MooreaMy French is slowly coming back to me but it is very hard to break the habit of talking Spanish. If nothing else, I am much less self-conscious about gabbling away in a foreign language. Still at the ticket office I’m able to buy a couple of tickets for the next ferry. Once in the waiting room we bump into Gillian and John again, an Aussie couple that we first met in the check-in queue in Easter Island (that seems ages ago now!) – they have a travel agent sorting out all the changes in their arrangements – its all right for some, we have to do it all ourselves!

Looking down the beach near our cabinIt’s only 30 minutes in the ferry to Moorea and the Moorea Golf Lodge where we are staying is only 10mins in a taxi from the port. It is sandwiched between the airport (aerodrome) and a golf course – now there is an idea! At the lodge, there is no problem checking in early – or as they put it, nearly a day late. No chance of been let of the cost of the cabin last night as we booked through booking.com. However, the cabins are spacious, have a large veranda (that we can sit out and watch the rain from) and (just about) a view of the waves crashing onto the rocky beach that is about 10 yards away. Shame the predominant colour is grey and not blue!

Clouds clinging to jagged mountainsMoorea is roughly triangular in shape and only 60km around the circumference, small enough that we can see a good portion of it on bike which we hire for 48hrs from the lodge. Donning our cycle helmets once again (they take up a good amount of space in our backpacks, but at least we have got good use out of them), we head out to explore the island.

Golf! Now there's an idea!Our route takes us past some of the golf course and the club house. As the golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus, it would have been rude if we didn’t call in and check it out. It is tempting to sign up for a round tomorrow – I am missing my golf – but it would be quite expensive by the time we have hired clubs as well as the green fees, and there is absolutely no guarantee about the weather. We will get a round in somewhere – I wonder what New Zealand is like for golf??

We are heading anti-clockwise around the island and so have the sea over our right shoulder where we can see the surf breaking over the reef which is a little way off shore. We pass a couple of the big resort hotels with their villas on stilts over the sea and stop in one of the small towns that are dotted around the island for some lunch. Baguettes now rather than empanadas – win some, lose some! Pressing on after lunch we get to Cook’s Bay, one of two deep gashes spoiling the regular shape of the island.

Looking down Cook's BayPausing at the corner of the bay, we can see over to the opposite shore as well as looking down the length of the bay at the resorts and the small boats moored along the shore. It is inland, however, where our eyes are drawn – to the jagged mountains in the centre of the island. The rugged, irregular peaks and sheer sides make for a dramatic view as they rise above the bay.

The worst bikes ever?The bikes we have hired are the worst in our trip (the best were on Easter Island). On mine, in particular, the handlebars have a tendency to rotate so the brake levers are vertical and then to slide sideways out of the mounting bracket wobbling alarmingly and reducing control. The lesson is – always check your rental bike thoroughly before heading off! Still we press on to the entrance of Opunohu Bay (where Cook actually landed). Time is pressing, though, and so we don’t linger before heading back. We have cycled further than we had planned to and now we pay the price as we have to retrace our steps. You’d think that we would learn! At least the road is mostly (though, sadly, not completely) flat. Even better, we spot a supermarket en-route where we stop and by some granola for breakfast and tins of beer to reward ourselves for a good day’s cycling.

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