Thursday, September 24, 2009

eco tourism

Wonderful day last Wednesday. My first day as a real tourist in Tahiti.
I was picked up at the marina at 9 o'clock in the morning by a Land
Rover with three young couple aboard, one of them on their honeymoon,
and a young male driver/guide.
After a very short drive along the coast going east, we turned and
started moving south towards the centre of the island, which is the
crater of an old extinct volcano.
Words and photos cannot do justice to the magnificence of the scenery.
Very steep mountains with hundreds of waterfalls, very green and lush
vegetation, mostly trees and surprisingly no fruits. We started moving
up a valley in which flows the largest river on the island and from time
to time could stop in areas where it was possible to have a swim. Only
once did we see a sign of the past polynesian culture, a marae not far
from the coast. Other than that, no village, no dwelling of any kind, in
fact nobody. It felt like a green wonderful desert, but kind of irreal
after you just left a busy coast line with lots of people and cars.
The river is used to produce hydro-electricity, so we visited the
various dams which have been built up the river, and even went through a
short tunnel dug out so that maintenance vehicle going to the third dam
up the river could come from the other side of the island.
We had lunch along the way in a restaurant built in the mountains but
that does not have customers any more except for the few people like us
who take a safari tour. I am told that this restaurant, and an adjacent
defunct hotel, was very busy at the time of the french nuclear tests,
but has almost completely died since. The menu was chicken and french
fries, not quite a typical local food.
But all in all, a good day for me. After so much time at sea level, it
felt good to be up there in the mountains.

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