Saturday, 22 April 2017

Flight back to Auckland then out to Tahiti, crossing the International date line for the 3rd time!

ALLIE: DAY 67: Saturday, the 21st of April (and Sunday, the 22nd)

A long day on Air New Zealand flying out to Tahiti via Auckland

Another poor night with only 3 hours of sleep. Dreamt about a balloon fiesta with folks from all over the world. The sad thing though was – like in real life – non of the flying happened due to unfit weather! (later we hear from Andy Nicholson that they had the most fantastic weather and flew every slot on their meet in Methven, South Island!)
flight out to Tahiti

Drive to the airport, drop the car, and check in our flight back to Auckland at 4.40am! What an ungodly time. And what ungodly security checks. Have forgotten about these stupid new rules. A fierce looking fat security lady starts to check all my belongings as thoroughly as if I was Bin Laden in persona. 

She finds my lipstick, deodorant, hand crème and tooth paste and throws it all in the bin. I am so annoyed! But when you ask for these stupid plastic bags (in which you are supposed to put all this kit) you can’t buy it – and the aircraft doesn’t provide you with new toothpaste and hand crème of course!

Can’t sleep, so watch a movie on Beatrix Potter and start writing an article on Student life in Nanjing. Browse through Auckland’s ‘Weekend Herald’ and find some quite amusing articles. Since there is nothing else to report on this third flight across the international date line (yes we are ahead now again it being Sunday the 22nd!), I will tell you a bit of my findings:

I start with the real facts, the 2006 census figures for New Zealand. Now it somehow tells you that Europeans are declining as an ethnic group in this country but when you look at ‘new arrivals’ it still shows England being well ahead of every other nation. But be aware, the Chinese are coming.  147.570 new Chinese to the country closely followed by Indians (104,583). Of all the pacific people the Samoans are the largest group followed by Cook Maori and Tongan. And where do most Kiwis live? Of course the area of Auckland, then Wellington and thirdly Nelson. Enough statistics for now? Alright, let’s move on to more exciting facts of life: SEX
crossing the International date line (again!)
Here are the latest statistics of good or bad lovers: the least frequent in ‘doing it’ were the Japanese with 46 times a year (no wonder since they either sleep or work), the most frantic lovers are the Greeks with 164 times (a new Olympic record?). I couldn’t find either the Brits nor the Germans in there, but I guess they must be somewhere in between. Now, the shortest sessions seem to have the Indians with 13,6 minutes, the most relaxed are the Nigerians with 20,3 minutes. So Paolo Coelho’s ‘eleven minutes’ isn’t topped yet – at least statistically and nationally.

Sex being closely related to fitness, so I move on to an interesting study done by Bristol (!) University about regular exercise (no I don’t mean sex this time, the study refers to running!). Out of 1158 men in their middle-ages (great expression!) the study found that ‘those who exercised regularly were less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over time.’ When I mentioned this fact to my ‘you-go-running-I-stay-in-bed’ husband he just said, “so what about sex?” Yes, but that doesn’t count according to this study, I countered. But since the study couldn’t proof  any ‘mental health benefits’ by daily exercise, Phil insists on his theory that ‘Sport ist Mord’ (sport is murder) and rather sticks to his heath idea which means to ‘inspects the inside of his eyelids’ whilst I go out to do my murderous deeds.
our 'shed'
The last story I tell you before my brain collapses on this flight is the fact that the Brits are getting grumpier every year but that the Danish are indeed the most happy people on Europe. But the most miserable Europeans are the Italians and the Portuguese! Now why is that? The study argues that happiness depends largely in a persons trust in government and society and has nothing to do with the stereotype perception such as being rich or living in a sunny country. So if you are Italian, Portuguese or Brit, put on a big smile and say “cheese”! Good night!

Arrive at 4pm at Tahiti International Airport. What strikes us first is the heat, what second how expensive everything is. After finding the whole airport absolutely
shut including the information desk (where in 24hrs we still haven’t seen a single soul), the bank and the airline desks, we try to find ourselves a bed for the night.
all a bit grim for such a praised tropical island

The Lonely Planet recommended “Chez Fifi”, a little pension just 150m from the airport for it’s cheap rates and “immaculate cleanliness”. But what we find is a real shocker: a young french guy shows us the only double room they have got which is a tiny box with a rotten dusty fan, barred windows and shared bathroom.

The whole lovely outfit costs 6800 cfp (ca. 60 €). We have to pay with ‘the lady’, an unbelievable fat lady sitting there draped with only a bikini in her scruffy kitchen strapped to an oxygen mask (no wonder her lungs won’t receive any of it by a natural passage) and demanding another 6800 cfp to extend our stay until the next evening. Wow! Welcome to Tahiti!

We are warned no to go downtown because it’s elections in France and of course here. And indeed, the whole town is out on a rally waving banners, shouting and making noise. It all looks really dodgy to us. The choices for dinner look grim: there is a Chinese take away and a few street shops with grilled meat. We are lucky to find a little pizzeria called ‘Frederic’s Creperie’ and enjoy some really tasty Flammkuchen and real cidre. From opposite of the street we can hear the church choir’s whole hearted singing but in front of us the rowdies rally down the streets. What a weird place. During the night we battle the dogs, some bugs, low flying aircraft, noisy cars and a ringing mobile phone.

PHIL: Day 67/21 April

After a confusion over which of her two passports to present on departure Allie is stopped at the pre-flight security check by an officious lady officer who removes several small items of toiletry because they are not in a sealed clear plastic bag. Allie is boiling about women in positions of power becoming control freaks – coincidentally reading in the NZ Herald about a Chinese woman recently hassled by a female NZ  Immigration officer in a similar fashion.
arrival in Tahiti
Allie discovers an article in the same paper about sex habits which indicates that Indians sexual exploits take 13 minutes and the Greeks have sex 136 times per year but, perhaps fortunately, neither the British nor the Germans feature at the extremes

In Auckland during our two-hour turnaround we find we are missing an opportunity to go on a free trip with a balloon to Syria and that Andy Nicholson had six flights in good weather at Methven in South island, NZ in the days after Hamilton. As if to emphasize our frustration the smoke around Auckland harbour is going straight up into an almost cloudless sky. Talking to mum back in Bristol we learn that the UK is continuing the beautiful spring climate it has been enjoying for almost a month now. Ah, well….
the harbour
The aircraft on our flight to Papeete is an ancient (well, at least 15-year-old) Boeing 767 with no laptop power offtakes and even with ashtrays (almost a historic item now) in the seats and loos. The Chief Steward consoles us  by commenting that by 2010 it will have been replaced by Boeings new 787 ‘Dreamliner’, but this is not much comfort as we try to catch some sleep in the hardly-reclining seats.

On arrival we plan to try a ‘Lonely Planet’ recommendation for a pension near Faaa Airport as we don’t want to be too far away for our late night departure for Easter Island. It will also be handy if we decide to fly to Moorea Island for the day. Allie runs the 150m or so up to the property in question and reports that they have a room. Things begin to fall apart, however, as we check in with the ‘patron’, a part-Polynesian lady who must weigh 150kg and is so fat she has a nasal canula to help her breathing. She grumpily charges us an extra day’s fee because we want to leave at 7pm next day. I beat her down but only by a small amount.
at least a nice sunset
The house seems to be occupied by an assortment of Frenchmen and mixed-race children of varying ages and uncertain relationships, a big dog and three turtles.Our room, a cramped double sharing a bathroom with a long-haired sun-bleached man in his 60s who seems only to wear a thong around the house. The combined ceiling fan and what passes for a light hangs uncertainly as if suspended on the cobwebs which envelop it. It rotates slowly and creates no perceptible air movement. The sagging bed is covered with a miniscule sheet of uncertain cleanliness.

We decide to go out locally for food after one of the residents warns that downtown Papeete is likely to be a bit lively in the run-up to tomorrow’s French Presidential elections. He proves right as dozens of trucks bearing different political flags roar past us horns and music blaring whilst the Sapeurs Pompiers look on with blue lights ablaze. There is little choice except dirty-looking roadside vans serving chicken legs and a tiny shack which turns out to provide excellent flammkuchen (which Allie loves) and Breton galettes (black wheat pancakes) which I haven’t eaten since a visit to Mont St Michel when I was 16. All this we wash down with equally unexpected cidre bouche, also from Brittany.

a grim pub but better than nothing
Back at the pension the air inside is stifling, the neighbourhood dogs are barking, and trucks thunder up the steep hill outside.We anticipate a bad night so Allie takes a pill on top of the bottle of NZ wine we have brought to encourage oblivion on such occasions. All is well until at 4.15 her alarm rings followed 45 minutes later by the local cellphone provider sending me a text reminding me I was in their territory. By now the cockerels are crowing all around, waking the dogs from their short respite.

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