Before I get too far away from it, I should add that I did not hate my brief time in Tahiti. While it was expensive and it did seem to overwhelm much of the experience, there were a few things I did enjoy.
- Poisson Cru. Before I left the island, I made sure I was able to have some of the National Dish of French Polynesia. Its basically raw fish in a coconut/lime sauce with vegetables. The one I had was cucumber and onion. It was very good. So good, I’d like to attempt to make it at some point while I’m on the road. I’m while technically a polynesian dish, I’m surprised you don’t see it at sushi restaurants. It would not be a stretch for them to make it.
- Le Truck Many of the islands of French Polynesia have a form of transportation known as le truck. Le truck are sort of flat bed trucks with benches on the back and covers over the benches. They drive set routes like a bus, but they’re private. They were far and way the cheapest thing in Tahiti. A trip from the airport to Papeete was like 130 XPF, which is like US$1.50. A taxi ride going from the same spots was about US$30. They’d stop anywhere on the road where people were waiting and would drop you off anywhere on the route you wanted. There were a lot of them running, so many they would leapfrog each other as they picked up passengers. I saw one with a bunch of passengers at a gas station filling up. (The price you pay I guess…) You never had to wait more than a few minutes for le truck. The next time I ever here anyone talk about the evils of private buses running routes, I’m going to bring up le truck. Good service and cheap prices. I can only imagine what they’d cost in a place that wasn’t as expensive.
- Roulottes These are basically lunch wagons. The people that run them set up mini restaurants out of the trucks. At night, they all come together at the harbor in Papeete and set up an impromptu food court. They have tables, table cloths, and the whole works. In the day the area is totally empty. At night…..instant restaurant row. They will set up small kitchens with gas powered grills, fryers, etc. Steaks, fries, pizza, crepes, and the above mentioned poisson cru. It was almost like being at the state fair.
- The women. There was a story I once read on how when Captain Cook arrived at Tahiti, the men would trade nails and other metal goods for sexual favors from the women on the island. Eventually they began ripping apart the ship for nails. (That might be where the term “getting nailed came from”). The women of Tahiti are beautiful. No doubt. Many of them had something about them which made them look like sisters or cousins of each other. (I’m sure someone has done a study of genetic diversity on island populations. It would be interesting to read) Also, everywhere I went that sold post cards in Tahiti, were post cards of topless women. I’ve seen that no where else in Polynesia.
- Black Pearls I’ve always thought that black pearls where way cooler than white pearls. French Polynesia leads the world in production of black pearls. They’re all over. They are also produced in the Cook Islands. If I buy one, I will probably buy one there because everything is so much cheaper.