Maeva!

One night Carl was drunk.

We were at Taronga Zoo’s annual fundraising event sitting at a table of 10 and while I was admiring the Dinosaur Designs beautifully boxed gifts we received, Carl was wandering around the room knocking back a few reds.

Don’t you just love place-card gifts! An egg cup and a salt bowl from Dinosaur Designs!

Just before Guy Sebastian came on to sing it was announced that the Silent Auction was now closed and the auctioneer read out the names of the successful bidders.  As I hadn’t placed any bids I was pretty stunned when I heard my name called as having successfully bid on a trip to Tahiti.  That was when Carl returned to the table and let me know that in between drinks he had written my name down on just about every bidding sheet.  Fortunately there were many other drunks furiously scribbling down their wives names so we were out-bid on every other item.

Tahiti looks nice!

A few weeks later Carl and I were on a flight to Tahiti.  We arrived at Papeete at around midnight on a Saturday night.  As we walked across the tarmac Tahitian singers welcomed us with beautiful traditional songs.  We were staying on the main island so it was only a short drive from the airport to the Sofitel Hotel.  The Sofitel was built in the 1960’s which is a decade not known for any outstanding architectural achievements so the rooms are boxy but they have been recently renovated.

We woke to a beautiful sunny day and went down to breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.  There were some tables overlooking the stunning beach but we couldn’t sit there because there were reserved for smokers.  Tahiti is an Island that needs to get its smoking under control.  People smoke anywhere and everywhere including in the airports, the hotels, the shops, the elevators, the restaurants and on public transport.  It is quite a shock coming from a country where smoking is banned just about everywhere.

After breakfast we reclined around the pool but it was taken over by masses of Tahitian children all running around and dive-bombing and yelling and screaming.  We moved away and I lay on a hammock underneath two palm trees which was actually rather perfect.  At the end of the day, all the children suddenly disappeared and the pool area was now peaceful and calm.  We almost had it to ourselves.  And the next day was the same.  And the next.  I wondered what had happened to all the children and someone told me the children in the pool that Sunday were the children of the staff at the hotel.  The hotel workers had brought their children to work with them and let them make good use of the hotel’s facilities until it was ‘knock-off’ time.  No one seemed to care and no one took notice of the ‘Guests Only’ rule.

Sunset. Island of Moorea in the background

The weather is so warm that we would find ourselves still out by the pool at around 8pm at night.  I was so relaxed I couldn’t be bothered moving.  We’d stay down by the water to watch the most beautiful sunsets.  It was wonderful to be somewhere where you could experience amazing sunsets because living on the East coast of Australia we can see beautiful sunrises (if you can rise that early) but never sunsets.

A sunset with the pool area in the foreground

One day we caught a ferry over to the island of Moorea which is a short commute from Papeete.  Many locals live on Moorea and commute to work each day on the main island.  We hired a car and drove around the Pineapple Road that takes you along the edge of the Island.  We stopped at some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen, all deserted, with incredibly warm turquoise water and fine, white velvety sand.  It is hard to imagine a more beautiful place.

A beach on the Island of Moorea and that’s not a typical Polynesian girl

The downside of Tahiti is that everything is so expensive.  Apparently Tahiti is bankrupt and is propped up financially by France.  Just about everything has to be imported and the Island doesn’t export much except for what’s made in the pineapple factory on Moorea and the best vanilla beans you have ever seen or tasted – the ones here in the supermarkets, all skinny, tough and dried, are a disgrace by comparison.  They do make and export their own beer, Hinano, with the iconic Tahitian girl on the bottle.  Beer wasn’t too expensive.

I didn’t pack shampoo or conditioner because you usually find these things in your hotel room but only shampoo was provided.  I went into a hairdressing salon (couldn’t find a supermarket) and bought a tiny bottle of conditioner for $40.00.

On the open-air non-airconditioned bus with the locals inhaling cigarette smoke

Carl didn’t get drunk in Tahiti, he couldn’t afford to.  All wines are imported and while Australia and New Zealand are both geographically close and have great wines to export, almost all wines are imported from that nation on the other side of the world, France.  With all that travel involved it is probably no wonder a glass of wine costs $25.00.  Carl certainly wasn’t knocking back the reds in French Polynesia.  I switched from wine to gin and tonic because they cost $15.00, a bargain by comparison.

We did head into the town of Papeete to do some shopping but Papeete is probably best avoided.  It’s dirty, it smells, it’s hot and often the shops aren’t air-conditioned so with poor ventilation they smell as well.  There are some incredible shops selling the latest French fashion collections but these shops are in amongst the local islander shops and difficult to find.

But you don’t go to Tahiti to shop or get inebriated, you go to experience the French Polynesian people and their culture and to admire the beauty of their land.  I would love to go back but next time I’ll take my wine and conditioner with me.

And ‘Maeva’ means ‘Welcome’ in Tahitian.

And…I’ve been nominated in the Sydney Writer’s Group award, Best Blog 2012.  There is also a People’s Choice Award.  If you could take the time to vote for me I’ll be your best friend!

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Comments

  1. It sounds like a very interesting holiday, Charlie! Lovely to see all the photos of you! I’d heard Tahiti was expensive, but $40 for a little bottle of conditioner sounds exhorbitant! I wonder how the locals afford to live there?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s what I wondered. I think they shop at the markets and they live in villages and grow a lot of their own produce. The shops seem to cater to the wealthy few or the tourists (who aren’t necessarily wealthy!) xx

  2. I think Carl’s inebriation definitely ended up for the best! At least you got a vacation out of it instead of just vomit on your floor!

  3. I wished my hubby would get a little inebriated and win a trip somewhere… although I dont think Tahiti would be my first choice after reading your story :(

  4. Tahiti … ahhhh …. and to win a trip there …. ahhhhh …. and to be so much closer to so many Pacific paradises. ….. ahhhhh. Meanwhile, I completed the voting!

  5. This post was great! I’m a fan of anyone who can “knock back” wine! ;) You have my vote for sure! :)

  6. So there are positives to getting drunk:) Encourage him at future events!
    Funny that the staff didn’t notice the guests only sign.

  7. Sigh. How dreamy. I could see the sunsets and smell the smoke right along with you. Carl should get drunk at all the auctions you attend. You always have my vote!

  8. Okay, I voted for you. Does that make me best friend #4,348 ?

    I can imagine my husband getting sauced and buying a trip to Tahiti. We were booked once and had to cancel but I can’t remember why now. You are very beautiful, no wonder he took you to Tahiti. :)

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much for your vote Maureen and you’re way higher up on the friends-list than that! xx

    • hotlyspiced says:

      And that’s so sad you had to cancel your trip. I do hope you get another opportunity to get there because it is so worth it – as long as you’re cashed up! xx

  9. Well thank God he was drunk and you had the chance to visit such a lovely place, but so expensive!

  10. The landscape is beyond beautiful. But I could never go to a country where smoking is allowed like this.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve heard they have now tightened the smoking laws and once you get out of the public areas and into the resorts you don’t notice it because most tourists are western and are non-smoking and if you do smoke, you’re respectful of the non-smokers around you. xx

  11. I love it! Other drunks scribbling their wives’ names…ha!

  12. Amazing photos, Charlie. How sad that they still smoke like that; even in France (and you know how they love to smoke), it’s curtailed — you can’t even smoke on a patio! I was pleasantly surprised when they banned it just prior to our arrival around 2005/6! The scenery looks divine, and that hot babe on the beach! Although the trip had its trials and tribulations, it looks like you had a wonderful little séjourn.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I did hear the smoking laws were going to be tightened just after our holiday. And that’s a good thing because on the night we left our plane was supposed to be leaving at midnight so we arrived at the airport at about 10.30pm. The plane was delayed and we sat in the airport lounge until 6am! Everyone around us was smoking in that small airport lounge and I walked onto the plane with tired, itchy and dry eyes and my clothes were full of the smell of smoke. All the shops at the airport are closed at night so we couldn’t even buy a bottle of water! It wasn’t a good ending to the holiday. xx

  13. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime!

  14. New Caledonia was much the same. We went out one night for what we thought would be a cheap dinner… shared a salad, some spring rolls and two beers. Total cost AU$60. Ouch. Beautiful place though and I’d go back. Both New Caledonia and Tahiti are both French I think. Perhaps that explains the cost??

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, Tahiti is French speaking. The Pacific Islands are all reasonably priced except for the ones run by the French. I don’t know why that is xx

  15. OMG – amazing photos and great story. You always seem to have the best food stories!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much! Yes, it’s a great place for a holiday and I would recommend it (as long as you’ve got some spending money) xx

  16. It was fun to read and see all the photographs from the trip. This place seems very expensive.

  17. Lovely travel post–I felt like I was there. I wished I were there…You look great as well! It’s fun to put a face with the great writing.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Victoria. Yes, I wish I was there too. Would love to go back as it’s so relaxing and warm and different and you truly feel like you’re on vacation. xx

  18. Congrats to your nominations Charlie! I ll vote for u!

    Ah Tahiti is a dream of ours… isnt it french? Maybe I could get some land over there with my nationality. XD

    I can imagine that its expensive the foreign stuff, but I amsure that local foods are not that expensive, but then its an other story to get to these things.

    Love your clicks too, very gorgeous! Sounds like the island is perfect for me! =D

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much for your vote Helene. Yes, Tahiti is French speaking. You would love it there. It’s definitely a place you have to get to at least once in your life. xx

  19. I’ve been to those kinds of charity auctions. I’ve actually scribbled MY name on a few things in hopes of not being the winning bidder. :) Sounds like you had a nice, albeit relatively dry, trip.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I have done that too! You have to get to the Silent Auction table early and write your name down first, knowing people will out-bid you! xx

  20. Tahiti is one of popular vacation spots for Japanese but I didn’t know that things are expensive nowadays! Beautiful vacation spot though. You look beautiful! I like the photo of you on the beach – looks like you are a celebrity from a magazine! ;-)

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Nami, that’s very kind of you. I went on this holiday before I became a blogger. Had I known I would one day be a blogger, I would have taken shots of the scenery and left myself out of the pictures! xx

  21. It looks like even after the little surprise and with the expensive stuff you still did have a lot of fun!!!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      We really did and I would go back in a heartbeat. In fact writing this post made me really miss the beauty of the place xx

  22. I absolutely loved all these photos. And I never knew that about Tahiti. I had no idea the financial crisis hit them that hard. And I agree with another commenter.. you do always seem to have the most interesting and wonderful food stories :)

  23. Tahiti seems like a dream travel destination – your post and photos really capture its essence for sure :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  24. Tahiti sounds like a dream place! In spite of the prices. I see from time to time French women named Maeva (I hope they know what it means… because they don’t look as if they were from Tahiti).

  25. Dear Charlie,

    Looks like a beautiful holiday and I love the photos of twilight around the pool. I wonder if I would do Tahiti though since Sydney beaches are so awesome and thing seem so expensive, let alone having smokers everywhere!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, Sydney beaches are hard to beat but the beaches in Tahiti are amazing and quite different to Sydney beaches so it’s well worth making the trip. The water is also so much warmer and a lot more turquoise. You don’t really find smokers at the resorts because you’re away from the public areas and most tourists come from places like Australia and are non-smoking. xx

  26. I once went to Tahiti on a famil when I worked as a travel agent. Papeete can be okay. If you know what to see. For example the fresh food markets, waterfront eating carts in the dusk, and best off all we went to a dance held in one of thebars where the locals dance a beautiful dance, a mix between a waltz and some hip grinding dance.

    I always remember the smell of Tahiti as a blend of coffee and vanilla beans.

    To experience the beatuful Tahiti you do need to get to the islands for their beautiful beaches.

    Congrats on winning the silent auction. I never win them.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Barbara, we went to the fresh food markets and that was interesting and we also had dinner one night on the waterfront and that was a great experience. I do agree though, it would be better to leave Papeete and head to one of the islands. xx

  27. The beaches and sunsets would have to be pretty awesome to cancel out screaming kids and cigarette smoke. Even a small amount of smoke reacts with me and I don’t think I could drink enough at those prices to forget about it!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I heard they tightened up the smoking laws just after we left and smoking was going to be banned in places like airports. It’s not noticeable within the resorts because most people there are tourists and come from countries where you don’t smoke in public places. xx

  28. Maybe you should get Carl drunk more often if that’s what it results in. What a beautiful holiday!

  29. This was an interesting post, Charlie. I learned quite a bit about Tahiti that I’d never heard. Your pictures are beautiful, as I’m sure the actual settings were. I’ve never been there, having gone to Fiji on my way home from Sydney one year — but I’ve always wanted to go. Who knows? I still might make it. Hope springs eternal … :)

  30. Lorraine Not Quite Nigella says:

    Lol at Carl putting down your name on everything – lucky that you were outbid on the other items! Wow, and $40 for conditioner? That’s terrible! I had no idea it was that expensive! We were going o go this year but hubby will probably nix it once he reads this :P

  31. I voted for you earlier, yay!!

  32. What beautiful photos. I think Id rather go to other parts of the pacific,…. specifically a cheaper part. Holidays are for relaxing eating drinking and washing your hair without going broke. ! That naughty Carl…….

  33. swimming while enjoying sunset is awesome!:) love the scenery there

    Latest: Freshest Sashimi Ever

  34. I’ve always wanted to go to Tahiti, it’s so far away for us it automatically carries a feeling of exotic about it. What a shame they don’t take advantage of all the goodies that Australia and New Zealand have to offer. Your photos are lovely and it would be worth going for the sunsets alone. GG

  35. That is such a lovely place!!!

  36. The thought of various drunk husbands bidding on things on their wives behalf has got me giggling. At least this particular bid worked in your favour, the oddities of Tahiti aside!

  37. What a treat for you, Charlie, even if it was a bit of a surprise!
    We are off to Italy via Hong Kong in a couple of weeks and I just can’t wait to lie back in a fancy hotel and be waited on.
    I’m just soooo lazy. ;-)

  38. Wonder how charmed you would have been on had “you” won all the bids…
    Beautiful pics of you Charlie!
    Seems Tahiti and Mauritius have loads in common, including the French. I am in the throws of putting a little book together of what it was like living in Mauritius for a period of 2 and 1/2 years.
    :-) Mandy

  39. I’d love to accidentally purchase a trip like this! Beautiful photos. The sunset with the pool is gorgeous. I think I could spend entire days sitting on the beaches there.

    Congratulations on your nomination!

  40. Nothing better than throwing back a few drinks and suddenly finding our your on your way to Tahiti. :-) Great pics!

  41. A holiday like that wouldn’t be boring at all…
    Love that sunset with pool photo…really great.

  42. What a nice vacation Charlie…love the pictures. Such a great experience…in spite of everything being so expensive.
    Have a great week !

  43. wow, this sounds like the dream destination, apart frm how expensive it is… lovely pics

  44. What gorgeous sunsets…you’re right! How right to just acknowledge the trip was about the people and the beauty–but it must have been a little odd to be in a resort atmosphere and not have the amenities that usually go with it! I am glad that Carl bid on a wonderful trip…I wonder what other things you almost bought :-) I also really do understand about the smoking. California has very strict laws against any smoking in public…I can go weeks without smelling cigarette smoke. Then when we are in that atmosphere I feel sick. To see those beautiful sunsets, though, I’d be willing to risk it! How fun, Charlie! Debra

  45. So we can cross Tahiti off the honeymoon list… How expensive! Why don’t they just import stuff from us? Lol

  46. What a great vacation!

  47. I cannot tell you the smile that this brought to my face. First off the opening sentence – love it! Then you showcased exactly where we went for our honeymoon. We stayed most nights in Bora Bora at the Sofitel, then we had a few nights at the Sofitel in Papeete and then a few at the Sofitel in Moorea. We rode our bikes around Pineapple Road (that’s where I was chased down by two crazy dogs). And for our 10th anniversary I found a liquor store in California that shipped me a few bottles of Hinano to give to Mike (it’s not available inland in the U.S.). Thank you for this beautiful flashback that I wasn’t expecting today. :)

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That is unbelievable! You must have had a dream honeymoon. Isn’t it the most beautiful place in the world! I would love to go back to discover some of the other islands like Bora Bora. How wonderful that you were able to source Hinano beer. I should try to see if we can buy it here. My husband bought the T-shirt in one of the markets! xx

  48. Hi,
    Wow, what a trip, but very expensive as well, I had heard it was expensive there, but didn’t realize it was that dear. Still what a fabulous place to go, and the photos are fantastic, definitely paradise. :D

  49. What a fantasy destination! We were considering Tahiti/Moorea as a honeymoon destination but heard similar stories about the cost of otherwise mundane things… Ultimately decided to head somewhere beautiful but where we could spend less money doing more things. Either way your trip sounds divine (and you look amazing!).

  50. Gorgeous pictures! Jeff and I went to Tahiti for our honeymoon. We’ll never be able to afford to go again, so we lived it up. Stayed in Le Meridian – FABULOUS! The best meal we ate was a pineapple we bought on the side of the road with some goat cheese and a loaf of French bread we bought at the supermarket (for a small fortune). The hotel wouldn’t let us have a sharp knife to cut the bread, so tore it off with our fingers.

    How I would love to go back, but with three kids our vacations are now a plastic pool in the back yard, plus a drink from our own blender. Sigh.

  51. The photos look beautiful, but the smoking and the price…not so much. Still, sounds like you had a nice and interesting vacation…and to win it at an auction, that’s pretty cool!

  52. Wow! I can’t believe it you won a holiday!!! That’s amazing!!! I ve never known anyone who s won a holliday hehe I thought they were always a gimmick :( think you should get Carl drunk more hehe

    What… That’s ridiculous everything is SO expensive what the… I don’t think I ll be going anytime soon to Tahiti hehe

  53. Tahiti looks freakin awesome, I never thought that it would be that pretty. But the price is really that expensive?? I need to save lots of money than..

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