We’d been at Marina Taina on Tahiti since last Tuesday and, apart from a couple of trips to the giant Carrefour just down the road, hadn’t seen anything of the island. Saturday’s plan was to get to Papeete to try to find a replacement motor for the autopilot (which keeps failing on us) and to check in at the police station. Quite excited to be heading ‘off site’, we were up bright and early. Friday’s brunch on the boat with Janice had left us with some pancake batter to use up so Doug got to work making us breakfast, and we sat out on the deck with mugs of tea, ready to tuck in. One disgusting mouthful in, we realized something in the mix was as unaccustomed to the tropical heat as we are. Oh well, bananas and papaya it would have to be. We headed off out into the already burning sunshine, returning once for the water bottle and a second time for the camera with photos of the motor and parts we needed. We were already getting sick of our day out and it was still only 8.30am.
The girl in the shop at the marina rang ahead to another shop to try to determine whether they had the parts we needed. I spoke to Florian, a patient French guy who didn’t complain too much about having to repeat each of his questions three times for me to understand. We made plans to visit his shop later and set off again. Having tried to find out about bus timetables the day before we’d been advised to just go and stand at the bus stop until a bus shows up. Hurray! One did before too long. That, it turned out, was about the most successful part of our day.
The next few hours consisted firstly of trying to get a Papeete map at the the tourist information office by the port (“you can get one online” we were told by the friendly guy there), and then walking in the scorching heat around a large industrial estate searching for three engine shops for which we had the names, but not addresses. Eventually we found them all. The first two were shut – impossible to tell whether for good or just on Saturdays. The next one had two branches and we found ourselves at the wrong one. But before too long (after a few trips up and down the same road) we worked out where we were meant to be and the third person we spoke to directed us up to a little office through a yard full of boats. A good looking blond guy looked through a door at us. “We’re looking for Florian” I explained in my awful French, and was a little over-excited when he, nothing like the serious old guy I’d pictured from the phonecall, said “C’est moi”. Doug insists a small gasp came out of me, but I think that was just the heat. Shame I was all redfaced from the sun and dusty from the endless tramping around – definitely not looking my best. He turned out to be helpful as well as handsome, giving us phone numbers for good people to contact and taking our phone number in case he could get any information for us, but the end result was that the earliest we could speak to somebody about whether the part we need is on Tahiti or needs to be imported is Tuesday. We’d been hoping to get moving by Monday at the latest.
So we set off again, to walk all the way across town to the police station to check in officially. It was closed until Monday. Papeete was definitely losing any small appeal it might have had. We forced ourselves to show interest in the cathedral, then the market, which was actually fun to check out, and a good spot to pick up some tasty food for lunch, even though most of the stalls were closing. Having sat down near the harbour to eat, it started to rain. Then we turned round just in time to see our bus driving past us. It continued to rain until we got back to the marina, having achieved nothing much at all. After chilling out for a bit on Illusion with a cup of tea, things started to look up. Particularly with Doug’s promising invitation around sunset to “get ourselves ready and go out for a bit”. Wow! Maybe he had a romantic evening in store for us, after our disappointing day. But no, the rest of the sentence was “so we can get to work on trying to fix the problem with the steering”. Which we tried to do, and somehow seemed to make things worse than before. Not, perhaps, one of our most impressive days. Luckily we managed to laugh about it. And were pleased it was Sunday the next day so we didn’t have to try to do it all over again immediately.