So, as we have been here for several days soaking up rays and tropical beauty, there are a number of details that were not included in the previous posts. Yes, I know. They were both quite lengthy (what else would you expect from me??!!), but there was no way to include everything. Here are some additional observations that we have made since our arrival:
• It has rained every day (at least once) since we have arrived. We have arrived at the very beginning of the rainy season (and off-peak travel time), so it is to be expected. It tends to happen around noon, which we found odd. Not being quite sure if it was a coincidence, we asked Laurel about the timing and she confirmed that it was indeed a coincidence. Fortunately for us we had spent a couple hours at the beach each morning and, upon noticing the encroaching storm clouds ready to rain on our parade, we ventured back to our little bungalow for some (more) brie, salami and munchies, and some afternoon relaxation with some reading…….and a nap.
o We are on day 4 today and it rained part of the night and up until breakfast. We were hoping to get to the beach immediately following our breakfast clean up, but it isn’t looking good. Plus we have a few things scheduled today, so we’ll see how much beach time we get. The rain sneaks up on you very quickly, and you have to sit back and wait a few to make sure that it won’t linger. Nevertheless it doesn’t linger long. So there is always hope.
• There are dogs everywhere. Laurel has 4 – 2 Pit Bulls, a Pit Bull mix, and a Cocker Spaniel named Lucy. All are about the sweetest dogs you could imagine. Yesterday we had a welcoming committee on our porch as we sat down for breakfast. Lucy had snuck under the doors to the yard and the Pit Bull (whose name I cannot recall at the moment) simply pushed the door open. They know they are not allowed in the bungalow itself, so they were content to sit on the patio in front of the open doors and watch us eat knowing that we would eventually come to greet them.
o Side note about the dogs: we love them…….but they are FILTHY! A dust cloud follows each one along with a swarm of fleas and other bugs. BUT, they really are the sweetest dogs you could imagine and, being dog fans, it is really hard not to greet them as excitedly as they greet you each time you cross paths……….except we go and quickly wash our hands immediately following.
• There are chicken and roosters EVERYWHERE! Each way you look you see something pecking the ground or scurrying across the yard. And there is the constant sound of clucking and crowing all the time.
o The roosters either have no sense of time or they are just plain assholes. There is what I affectionately refer to as the “rooster chorus” that takes place AT LEAST once a night. Most of the time it is at dawn, or more likely just before, that echoes like a massive wave across the entire island. You hear one rooster crow and immediately following you hear the entire poultry population on the island go ape-shit, but it travels in this big wave that you can hear in the distance. It was pretty cool the first day, not so much the second……..especially since the second night the rooster in our yard decided (in the middle of the night) he had something to say. Of course, the rest of his friends on the island responded, but it was short lived. I think one of his friends had sense enough to tell him to shut his pecker and go back to bed.
• Along with the massive poultry population, there are Myna birds everywhere, too. They chirp, whistle, sing and cackle all the time while darting between thatched roofs searching for goodies to eat. I am assuming they eat not only the bugs, but the copious amounts of fruit and lizards found everywhere. I am also assuming the lizards are some type of gecko, but we have not been able to get close enough to them to verify that. They tend to be about 3 or 4 inches long and dart across the ceiling and walls of the bungalow like a bullet. That is another similarity to our adventure in Cambodia.
• I mentioned how expensive food is at the market, but never really gave you a solid idea of what I meant. Here is a good example. A single bell pepper cost about 420 Polynesian Francs. That is nearly $5.00 as the exchange is currently 85 Francs to every 1 Dollar. Let’s see……a bag of taro chips was nearly $10.00. A liter of Coke runs about $4.00. Fruit juice isn’t too bad…….closer to about $3.00 for a small container……..and it is sooooo worth it, too. Bread is super cheap. A 3-foot baguette (assuming you get to the market in time to get one!) is less than 1 American Dollar. You see people on their bikes with a huge bundle of them. Plus, with the humidity here, they last a couple of days on the counter without getting hard or going stale. The point of all this is that for a single (small bag) of groceries you will be lucky to get away with paying $50.00. So basic grocery shopping is quite pricey.
o In comparison, we discovered that eating out is actually a tad more affordable. We have gone out to dinner twice in the since our arrival. Both times we paid more than $100.00 dollars, but that included a bottle of wine. Plus all taxes and gratuity are included in the meal, so it really isn’t much different than what we would have paid in a nice restaurant back home. Also, since we have limited mobility, most restaurants have a taxi service that will pick you up and drop you off. Some don’t charge anything, and some charge about $12.00 for the pick up only and will delivery you back for free. Pretty smart way to make sure you have some people in your restaurant.
• Oh, I forgot to mention the sandwiches at the market. They take the baguettes cut them down to one foot sections and fill them with all sorts of stuff. A couple of examples were just a simple beef or pork sandwich. But they also had an omelet one and chow mien! It seemed so strange, but we had to get one……and it was delicious. Who knew that a chow mien sandwich would be so tasty?
• The Tahitian people are incredibly friendly. They always smile at you and don’t ever seem to be put off by our presence as tourists. Nor do they make fun of my severely poor attempts at speaking French (mostly ordering food). You also have to understand that the only time we see other tourists for the most part is either when they drive by us on the road or we are in a restaurant. We are pretty immersed in the Tahitian culture at the moment just based on the fact we did not stay at a resort. We are so glad we made that choice, too.
I promise that pictures will eventually come. It may not happen until we get back as our internet connection is so incredibly poor it would literally take hours just to load a few. I would rather spend that time on the beach and taking more pictures!