No Return to Tahiti


Today I’m thinking about Tahiti because I’m reading a travel book and the author is there.   Ruth & I spent some time in Papeete several years ago because someone who entered our family grew up there.   Stanley wanted us to see where he went to school, the beach he played on, the house he lived in, etc.  Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, is not a nice city. It is traffic-congested and anonymous.  No longer the main community of an island paradise and reflecting that enviable position, it was a characterless town that could be anywhere.  I remember walking along the industrial waterfront and seeing the ship that would soon leave for The Marquesas.  At the time, getting aboard a cargo ship in Papeete was the only way to visit the Marquesas.


In the book I’m reading, J. Maarten Troost, a funny travel writer of 3 book centered in the South Pacific, is on the same waterfront and booking passage to The Marquesas on the Arunui III, a 360 foot cargo ship leaving the next morning.  He’s in exactly the same spot I was.   The differences are that it’s 2013 and he’s actually boarding the Arunui that day for a 2 week trip to The Marquesas and back while I was just dreaming.  He mentioned that this is still the only place on the planet where you can board a boat to these remote islands.

Troost described Papeete as a town “…with chintzy office towers, traffic circles, oven-like churches, filthy sidewalks, and, near the port, cylindrical fuel storage depots that looked like unhatched eggs shading French naval vessels that exuded nothing but malice….”   This was exactly the way I remembered it and brought it all back.   There has been no reason for me and Ruth to return to Papeete even though Moorea, which Troost described as “a bewitching sight”, was the magical paradise that we expected Tahiti to be.   We loved it there and so did our stress levels.   We went from Tahiti to Australia and have returned there 9 times.

I highly recommend J. Maarten Troost’s travel books.  The one described above is named Headhunters on My Doorstep.  Be warned.  In it, Troost is wrestling with less than a year of  sobriety, and traveling alone is challenging his resolve not to drink.  While a definite theme woven among travel experiences, alcohol avoidence is treated lightly and with his typical humor. It’s not heavy-going as Troost follows the path of another writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, who had 3 cruises in the South Seas and built a house on the island of Samoa.



About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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