October, 2005. Papeete and Matavai Bay, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
Thanks to meralgia paresthetica I spent more time on Tahiti than planned. I think it was six or seven days altogether, although I'd only anticipated two or three. Unhappy: immobile, painful, isolated.
I agreed with Tony Horwitz that Papeete is an unfriendly and sad city. It's as unlike Polynesia as the colonial authorities have been able to make it. Redeemed, of course, by the flashes of warmth you find in people everywhere. The trilingual girls at the visitor center who helped me find a doctor for my injury; the friendly, happy lady at the local pizza take-out shop; the previously cranky French merchant who burst into grins and congratulations when I counted out correct change.
Outside Papeete people are mostly Maohi, and they return your smile.
The good news is that wonderful Moorea is just a ferry ride away.
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