With a heavy heart we parted with Ah Ma on Tahiti. Partly because I could not leave Linda alone on this remote Island for an unknown period of time. It could be days, weeks or as it turned out months before we could make our way back to Asia. Our crew wanted to push on as quickly as humanly possible to avoid the stringent quarantine requirements in New Zealand. Absurd once you stop and think about it, as the roughly two weeks at sea from Tahiti to New Zealand count towards the required quarantine period. So upon arrival it’s pretty much ‘time served’. But in any event, two or three days after dropping anchor at Taina marina, the boat was turned around with fresh water, diesel and food and headed back into the open ocean, pointing towards Fiji and thereafter New Zealand. Even though weather report showed some heavy weather ahead which ended up giving the crew and Ah Ma a very uncomfortable and damaging passage.
When we arrived on Tahiti, late March 2020, the island was in a strict lock-down. No one was allowed on the streets without a piece of paper stating your business. All bars and restaurants were closed. At the main supermarket, Carrefour, it was only allowed for one person per household to get supplies. No alcohol was allowed to be sold, probably because in the corroded minds of those that dictate rules, Corona infects intoxicated people quicker than sober ones. Pretty much all the ridiculous things that would happen later in Europe and the rest of the world, or are sadly still happening to date.
Ashore we got the chance to connect to the internet and read up on the lies and facts that were widely spread by the various media. It was, and still is, shocking to see how governments are making decisions based on irrational emotions and fear, even now, almost a year into the madness.
But soon we realized that despite these strict rules imposed by the French Polynesian government, the local Tahitians were not as intimidated and fearful of the virus as the majority of the world population. The rules were there to be broken, no one ever checked the required permit papers. Everyone just went to supermarkets with their family and all that was open. The beaches and hiking paths, were heavily visited and thoroughly enjoyed. After a few weeks of no ‘infections’, the restrictions were lifted and the Island opened up again.
Well not quite fully opened up, flights were still only once a week, and only to Paris. These flights were mostly to ferry government and service personnel back and forth between France and the Island. But restaurants and bars opened their doors again, the roulette trucks appeared on the streets again at night. The perpetual traffic jam around the island took form like in days before as people returned to work and business.
In the first couple of weeks I had hoped that since French Polynesia had no infections and New Zealand only had a hand full, they would open up an air bridge or bubble. In a way French Polynesia and the ANZAC countries have strong ties. Australia and New Zealand see the Pacific Islands as their backyard. So I had hope that I could rejoin Ah Ma sooner rather than later by staying in Tahiti. But as the weeks passed on, that hope became smaller and smaller. It turned out that the socialist powers in New Zealand went into a streak of complete paranoia, closing down the country for probably years to come. And why not, they think they can afford to do this as they seemingly have no reliance on anyone other than maybe Australia. Even though unemployment shoots up through the roof and the whole ‘travel’ economy is down the drain. A small price to pay for the great reset.
Despite our predicament, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Tahiti. It is indeed one of the most beautiful places in the world, right up there with Bermuda, the BVI and Cayman. Well Tahiti itself not so much, as the modern consumption culture had somewhat caught up with this idyllic paradise. For us the raw beauty is more found on the Islands surrounding Tahiti. We had the opportunity to visit Moorea with JP. Moorea is a small island of the West of Papeete, the capital of Tahiti It has the reputation of being like Tahiti fifty years earlier.
We met JP through mutual friends in Macau. JP is a local French Tahitian who had worked in Macau for years. He and his family took us in as friends and went out of their way to make sure we were feeling at home on the Island. I also got some help from my Masonic brethren. Through the worldwide network I was directed towards the local French Polynesian grand loge. And as with masonic custom, I was welcomed with open arms as a visitor from afar. The local grand master and some of the other brethren helped us with information on flights and introduced us to some of the local Tahiti gems.
Without JP and his family and our brethren from afar, our stay on Tahiti would not have been so colorful as it turned out to be. I am grateful for their hospitality and help during our days of being marooned in paradise.
With the corona restrictions lifted on Tahiti we could finally move freely about the Island and even take a ferry or fly to other islands within French Polynesia. We moved from our first apartment, next to the supermarket in Faaa, to a cheaper apartment closer to the Taina Marina. With the reduction in rent we could afford to rent a simple car. This is an absolute necessity on the Island as it is close to impossible to rely on any form of public transportation. Our little Fiat Panda brought us around the Island, to and fro restaurants and supermarkets, down to the Marina and even on the ferry to Moorea. It didn’t take too long before we knew the roads like the locals.