Every cruise line has its own daily newsletter that usually comes the night before when your bed is turned down. After leaving Pitcairn we began to notice a health alert taking up considerable space in our Reflections each night. We were on our way to Papeete, Tahiti, and then Bora Bora and a place in the Cook Islands. Yellow fever, dengue, malaria, and the usual viruses we had all taken into consideration and indulged in precautionary methods to prevent an early end to our vacations. Now enter Chikungunya.
“What?” was the collective question voiced throughout the ship. Chikungunya is a disease carried by mosquitoes, those dastardly critters that seem to spread so many things. It was said to be particularly dangerous to those over 65 and those who suffer from arthritis. Are they kidding? Someone quoted a statistic for this trip and said that 85% of all the passengers were over the age of 65. Judging from how many in our evening show raised hands in the audience to indicate they’d been married 50 years or more, I’d say it was right. Now how many of those do you suppose have arthritis?
One passenger was said to have gone to the excursion desk and cancel his excursions on the upcoming islands adding, “What are you trying to do? Kill me?” To the contrary. The ship had a supply of insect repellent available in the form of wipe-ons and spray that would be ready for use at the gangplank. It was also suggested that we wear long sleeved shirts and long pants as well as hats. Sure, but what about those oldsters who are going swimming?
After several days at sea, we awoke to see land in the distance. The island of Tahiti was growing larger as we neared it. Our estimated time of docking was noon so we spent the morning enjoying the cruise around the island and the approach to the port of Papeete.
I had no idea what the temperature was but as I tried to take some pictures from the front of the ship on Deck 13, the sun felt intense. So much for the thought of wearing long sleeves and long pants. It was HOT! Humid too. It took my camera about 15 minutes before the lens finally defogged. I’ve had it fog on the outside of the lens before but this time it even fogged inside.
Bob and I met for an early lunch and then prepared to go ashore. We used our sun block and then wiped on our insect repellant and hoped for the best. We walked through a cloud of insect repellant spray at the bottom of the gangway and figured we were doubly protected now.
Papeete has grown some since we were last here or else my memory is not serving me well (I do fit the passenger profile). They have made and are still in the process of making lots of improvements to their waterfront. A boardwalk was being finished that will be a very nice walk along the harbor.
Our first order of business was getting postcards mailed so we headed in the direction of the Post Office. As we did we passed a nice park that was full of canopies and bandstands. It must have been some sort of festival geared to young people because there were a lot of them gathered there.
We wandered around the waterfront a bit and then headed back in the direction of the cathedral and the marketplace. Our shirts were already sticking to us and trickles of sweat were pouring down our backs. I kept telling myself I could be trekking through snow back home but somehow that didn’t help.
At the cathedral we paused to take a few pictures and admire the beautiful wooden sculpture of Madonna and Child then continued on to the Marketplace. I’m not sure if it was because we were there late or if it was because of the festival but there didn’t seem to be as many booths as I remembered especially flower booths. The last time I remember going crazy photographing so many beautiful bright colored flowers.
Because of Valentine’s Day approaching, Bob decided we needed to buy an arrangement of flowers. It was difficult to find one small enough for our room. Finally we settled on one that I thought we could make room for and purchased it. If I remember my flower prices correctly from my florist days, I’m guessing in the states the arrangement of red anthiriums and ginger would have cost around $125. When Bob asked the price the lady said $22 USD. Bob said he thought he only had $20 and she said fine but when he found another $2 in his stash, he gave it to her. What a guy.
Since we had to wait on a container truck for some fresh food stuffs (we were out of strawberries, again) our stay in Papeete took us into the evening hours. We got to watch a local troupe of dancers called O Tahiti E who were absolutely wonderful. The men fanned their legs back and forth as they danced and even did it from a squatting position. The women—well, I am always amazed at how they can shake their hips and everything else stays in place. I think I’d put something out of joint if I tried it.
Out on the deck after the show, we took in the pretty lights of the harbor reflected in the waters and watched as they finished unloading the container on the dock that had our supplies. The troupe of entertainers waved goodbye as they left the ship and before long the lines were unhooked and Louis Armstrong began to belt out It’s A Wonderful World. We were on our way again, heading to Bora Bora.