Day #63 - Rhythm of the City; Beat of the Drums

You'll remember that the other day (Day #61) we stopped off in Papeete on our way back from our road trip around the island, and that we weren't too impressed with what it had to offer? Well today we took the opportunity to not be so judgemental and take a proper trip into town to see what it had to offer. 

Our hotel offered a free shuttle bus into town and so we decided to take them up on the offer and hitch a ride on the afternoon bus. What did you do in the morning I hear you cry? Well, a simple one word answer - pool!

No pictures of the morning, but here's one of the hotel cat pretty much doing what we were doing!

So, come the afternoon, we joined several of our fellow hotel guests on the afternoon bus and headed into town. As we mentioned before, Tahiti is served by one circular road that runs close to the coast for the most part. This means it can get rather congested but our afternoon run into town avoided the two major rush hours of the day, so it only took about 20 minutes. 

After taking due diligence and committing to memory where the bus dropped us off (since this was also the pick up point) we headed off into town to see if two and half hours could change our perception.

We wandered the streets with a little sense of purpose since we both wanted to pick up some new clothes for the next leg of the journey and of course, we had to locate a fridge magnet to add to our ever growing collection. 

The streets, though vibrant with local life, lacked the postcard-perfect charm we had perhaps envisioned. Papeete's bustling markets offered an array of colorful fruits and crafts, yet the overall atmosphere felt somewhat chaotic and less polished than anticipated. The architecture is a blend of colonial and contemporary styles the latter evoking a Midlands shopping centre redevelopment from the 70's. However, there was a good range of shops selling clothes and we had a good browse. The prices here aren't cheap and branded goods came at a premium. 

James found a lovely black shirt with a local Tahitian tribal design on it that I think is rather fetching along with a pair of boardshorts which again have a classic tropical design on them.

The one part of town we did like was the area around the marina that had a few bars and restaurants that gave this area a little bit more class and dignity. Afterall, this is a French colony and you do expect a certain amount of savoir faire.

Before long, it was time to head back to our bus. We knew where it dropped us off you will remember. The problem was, finding that location proved a little more tricky than we anticipated. Papeete is laid out in a mostly grid pattern making it easy to keep track of your location (two blocks down, one over etc.). However, we didn't spot a cheeky diagonal couple of roads that threw our internal compasses totally off! We spent a little longer than anticipated making our way back to the bus, but we still made it in good time.

Our evening was going to be something special. James had booked us a seat at the hotel's Marquesan show where the Kaputu Nui group perform. This was a cultural showcase where the group share Marquesan culture through its dances, songs, music, costumes and tattoos. Unlike the luau we experienced in Hawaii on Day #56, this show didn't have a narrator and so we were left to enjoy and interpret the dances for ourselves. See what you think:

We both were enthralled by the dances due to the amount of energy and emotion that came through. It was clear that this troupe were rightly proud of their traditions and were skilled in their dances, but also, I got the sense they really connected with the dances history and purpose.

The show was accompanied by an all you can eat BBQ buffet which had a wonderful array of meats and fish to sample, with suitable cold accompaniments. While the spiced pork and short ribs were heavenly, the octopus skewers weren't something I went back for more of! 

Again, another amazing day came to a wonderful end. Oh, and here's James looking very handsome in his new shirt!