It took us three (3) hours and twenty five (25) minutes from Noumea, New Caledonia to reach Papeete which is situated in the island of Tahiti which in turn is a part of the Society Islands Group. The other island groups are Austral, Gambier and Marquesas.
We checked in at Le Meridien. Though we were still unpacking our things, we received a call from the reception that our tourist guide was below and would like to discuss things with us.
We were surprised to find out that the supposed tourist guide was the immigration officer who processed the entry of my companion to the airport.
Thinking my companion was unescorted, the officer was surprised when we met him. What followed next was exchange of cordialities characterized by artificialities.
There was a strong likelihood that the immigration officer cut short his work and he proceeded immediately to the hotel and posed as a guide in order to gain communication to my companion with the hope of getting a date but of course to no avail.
During the first day, we firstly visited the house of the author of the book “Mutiny on the Bounty” James Norman Hall. We thereafter visited the Arahoho Blowhole amidst the black sand beach.
We thereafter visited the Botanical Garden where the plants are similar to that in the Philippines. We were told that the breadfruit is their staple food.
We saw the Mara’a Fern Grotto wherein two of three caverns have no entry signs. According to the guide, since time immemorial, nobody has visited the two caverns as the locals are of the belief that there are evil spirits inside. They even forbade foreign researchers from entering in order that bad luck would not befall them.
Finally we visited the Museum of Tahiti and its people. The Museum is divided into four sections: Geography and Natural History: Pre-European Culture; European and outdoor exhibits.
When I asked the cost of one ornate mother of pearl, I was informed that in local currency it was equivalent to US$1,500.
I could not understand why it, together with other items, are exorbitantly priced. I believe the high cost of things would be a deterrent for the entry of more travelers.
I later read that this situation has been existing even during the time of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). He said in his book “Gauguin By Himself” that “However prudent one is, life in Tahiti is very expensive and burdensome.”
On the second day, we had a group tour which virtually adopted the highlights of the preceding tour except for the Gauguin Museum and the Valpahi Waterfall.
Incidentally, we were informed that there is another island attached to Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti) which is Tahiti Iti (Small Tahiti) or titi for short. Sounds morally offensive under Philippine setting.
I was prompted to ask the tour operator why it was adopting the business name Tahiti Nui Travel Tours (as it delimits its operations) instead of merely Tahiti Travel Tours. Are they not going to establish tour at the Tahiti Iti as well? There was deafening silence.