My Kafkaesque Almost Nightmare in Tahiti

Posted: May 14, 2007    Categories: French Polynesia, Pacific/Oceania, Polynesia, Travel

I was held my the immigration police in Tahiti for almost an hour. Here’s why:

To get into Tahiti you need to show proof that you have a ticket to leave Tahiti. I guess the place is so expensive that they know there is a good chance you’ll be broke by the time you leave, so they want to know you have already paid for it.

When I was here last week, the ticket office at the airport was closed, so I couldn’t get my ticket to Rarotonga for when I’d get back from Easter Island. I figured I’d buy it online while I was in Easter Island.

Well, I tried to buy a ticket online only to find out that they don’t offer e-tickets on Air Tahiti. The only way I could get a ticket is if they sent the physical ticket to my address. Clearly that wasn’t going to work with me on Easter Island.

So I was placed in the situation of needing an exit ticket to get into Tahiti, but I could only get my exit ticket if i could get into Tahiti.

Please read that sentence again.

That was the first thing that made no sense. The second thing is what really showed the stupidity of the rule…

I was sent to the Air Tahiti Nui offices (their international branch. I need the domestic branch for Rarotonga) to buy a ticket to Las Angeles. It cost $1,400, BUT, as the ticket agent was quick to point out, it was fully refundable. I asked if I could get my money back tomorrow, and she said “yes”. That means the requirement for an exit ticket is a total sham, because if I can refund the ticket I was forced to buy, then in the end, I have no exit ticket. All I was forced to do was lend Air Tahiti Nui $1,400 for 12 hours.

I’m really looking forward to Rarotonga. If I can get a flight to there earlier than the 19th, I very seriously might take it and leave French Polynesia behind.

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