Tahiti, Miami, Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe

cocktails at the Sofitel bar!

Despite having prolonged my stay in Tahiti from 10 to 14 days, time flew by and I tearfully left Papeete airport Sunday evening. It is so easy to get used to the Pacific laid-back lifestyle and beautiful surroundings, but even more so when you share it all with someone you love.

I had an unforgettable time in Tahiti, and what I discovered, saw and learnt during my short stay was fantastic. Granted, it was strange not being with family on Christmas day, and weird not being near home for New Year’s… No snow, no fondue, no fireplace, no snowboarding – but instead sunshine, Mahi Mahi, Tahitian sashimi, Marquisian dance shows and snorkeling. We did however get a bottle of Moet Chandon and some foie-gras, for these delicious traditions are difficult to avoid…

We spent quite a lot of time alongside Marie and Flo, who are friends and fellow students at Geneva’s hotel school which Alex goes to – they are also working in Tahitian hotels as part of their internships. On Christmas day we went out in kayaks and snorkeled in the turquoise waters nearest to Alex’s hotel. We had a Christmas dinner together a few days later, as Flo’s parents had sent him some top notch foie-gras and champagne from home, which we shared with a nice home-made meal. Last Saturday we rented a car and circled the island of Tahiti together, discovering all the coast’s treats – great surfing spots, the tallest largest waterfalls I have ever seen, black sand beaches, breathtaking coastal views, and we ate in a very tasty French restaurant.

giant waterfall on Tahiti's east coast

The last days I spent there were surprisingly wet and rainy – it showered from Friday through to Sunday non stop, flooding the streets and cooling the temperatures. However, it added a wintery touch to our Christmas together, and Alex and I especially appreciated it on the Friday evening when it commenced as we were shelter under an enormous parasol facing a lit up pool – the pouring rain was almost torrential, and we were snug under our shelter for two watching it get more and more intense.

I even got to play a concert with a band one night, as one of Alex’s colleagues kindly offered I’d play with the band on that particular evening. A lot of Alex’s fellow interns showed up, with some of their friends, and we had a big table in front of the stage. I was nervous at first about playing with a band, because I am used to playing solo, but the bassist, guitarist and percussionist followed my every move and I didn’t have to worry about anything. It was great fun, and I played two sets, and in total, about 15 songs. It actually went so well that all the drinks ordered on our table were given for free, as the director of the bar was happy with the performance. And I overheard the director of the hotel had come especially to watch, and personally told Alex the following day at work that he had enjoyed the performance. Thumbs up all round!

concert with Acoustic Party band

You can understand why it was so difficult and sad for me to leave Tahiti, but I did and eventually got to Miami where I spent one night in a snazzy/hip/modern hotel slap back in the middle of Miami Beach, called ‘the New Hotel’. It was very comfy, and had a strange yet cool vibe to it – I arrived in the night, and there was lounge-y music playing quite loudly out on a lit up pool, couches, candles, an open cocktail bar, red lights, blue lights, a projector screen just above the pool replaying that night’s American football game. The concierge brought my heavy bags up to my room, and told me I could order a cocktail on the house in order to relax. I had a strawberry mint Mojito which was delicious to say the least. The hotel room was very nice, the bed especially soft and snug – perfect for resting after two long flights: Tahiti-LA, LA-Miami.

strawberry mint Mojito @ The New Hotel, Miami Beach

And yesterday I flew to Puerto Rico, waited there for 3h, and eventually got on to a plane to Guadeloupe. The wait in Puerto Rico was a bit frustrating as I have never visited this country, and being stuck inside the airport with the gift shops selling shirts and souvenirs I felt was a bit of shame. What was amusing was the plane ride to Guadeloupe – one of the oldest, smallest planes took us there. I could see the giant propellers from my tiny window seat revving up, and making an incredible noise. But the cherry on the cake was the fact that all of the chaps at the front of the plane had to relocate to various parts of back and middle of the plane, for balancing reasons! I was the only remaining person at the front, exempt from moving as I was the only lady at the front from the outset. The plane made an absolute racket the whole way from Puerto Rico to Guadeloupe, and thankfully I still had a pair of ear plugs in my bag from my Air Tahiti Nui flight.

I have now arrived safely in Guadeloupe. I haven’t had much time to explore yet, as I have just come back from breakfast, which I ate on the beach front. There are interesting Caribbean treats such as coconut jam, banana jam, fresh guava juice… And I’m sure so many more exciting Guadeloupian discoveries are on the horizon for the coming next weeks!

Advertisements

Ia Orana Tahiti!

I left Hawaii a week ago in a limousine to the airport, and flew once again through a rainbow on my way to Tahiti. I had such a great time both in Maui and Oahu, and I will remember those islands fondly, but time for a new country and culture…

Tahiti is similar to Hawaii in its Polynesian culture and atmosphere, except less American and more French, …which makes sense! But that feeling is very present, much more than I had expected. Tahiti is a French territory so all road signs are like the ones back home, and the supermarkets, food brands, car makes are those which I am familiar with. I have enjoyed going to Carrefour and being able to buy things I like to get back at home like goat’s cheese, millefeuille desserts and foie-gras. Of course, one has to be careful selecting wines, as there are good bottles to choose from, but it is best to avoid the older ones as they have probably been sitting in the wrong temperatures for way too long…

The Tahitian language seems to be much more alive and spoken than Hawaiian language in Hawaii. Tahitian is translated from French almost everywhere, and I do hear from time to time some people speaking it. It is very similar to Hawaiian as it I suppose it shares the same Polynesian roots: ia orana = hello, nana = goodbye, manuia = cheers, maruru = thank you, … And my personal favorite: nene = transvestite (!) Yes, much to my surprise, this seems to be a popular phenomenon here in Tahiti – many men chose to dress as women on a daily basis and a lot of them work as hotel maids, cashiers, waitresses. It is very surprising, and adds a little quirkiness to the island!

The most exciting thing for me though has been reuniting with my boyfriend Alex who is working at the Maeva Sofitel Beach Resort here in Faa’a. He works as the assistant to the hotel’s director of finances and administration. We have celebrated Christmas and New Year’s together and have done a bit of traveling together during Alex’s time off. On boxing day we took a catamaran to Tetiaora, also known as the ‘Island of Birds’, which was a stunning private island, a 3h30 boat ride away from Papeete, Tahiti’s capital. The boat ride was very choppy, and unfortunately a lot of people were sick on board. And I must admit that usually I am not sea sick but this long catamaran ride was tough. When we arrived on the island, we walked around it and its beautiful lagoons, saw some extremely rare birds of all shapes and sizes, snorkeled around the shallow waters and swam with some of the most colorful fish I have ever seen. We ate a traditional Tahitian lunch on board, and head back to Papeete in the afternoon.

Our second trip, my favorite of all, was on the 30th December, when we took a ferry to the island of Moorea. Alex had booked us in the Sofitel on that island, and because of his affiliation with Maeva Beach Resort, he got us a wonderful room for a discounted price. The resort in Moorea is picture perfect: a long stretch of real beach, pilotiers, infinity pool, beautiful cocktails, stunning rooms, really comfy beds, tranquility, Tahitian shows at night, a great bar on the beach – it was an ideal honey moon type place. Alex treated me to an 1h massage at the spa as part of a Christmas present, which was excellent. I was blown away by the quality of our room which was honestly one of the best hotel rooms I have ever seen.

The following day we walked around Moorea for an hour or so, saw a lot of crabs, market stands, fruit trees and more stunning beaches, before taking the ferry back to Papeete. Moorea is even more tranquil and laid back than Tahiti, which is sort of difficult to explain as Tahiti is very relaxing as it is..!

I have already witnessed a few traditional musical treats since my arrival – we went to see a Marquisian show at the Intercontinental hotel (our neighbors) which was full of energy, percussion and lively female and male dancers. We also got to see a lot of Tahitian tamouré dancing at the Moorea resort at the restaurant at dinner time. There are some Tahitian dances which are very similar in style to hula, but with more energetic moves, kind of like their alphabet which unlike Hawaiian contains the letter ‘r’ which gives it more oomph. The costumes the dancers wear are also generally a bit more fierce looking – more natural colors like green and brown, more traditional accessories like bamboo, wooden bracelets, more tribal make-up. The women also shake their backsides much more than hula dancers, and with much more rhythm and energy.

The internet is very slow here so it has been difficult for me to upload photos, check emails, keep in touch and write as much as I was in Hawaii where its USA internet connection is speedy and easy to access. I am going to have to get used to this slower and less modern lifestyle in the French islands which I am finding fascinating and enjoyable…

What is really interesting is this sensation that I have returned home because of the French cultural aspects that are so present, yet I am further away from home than I have ever been in my life… Nana!