Goin' Down, Under travel blog

Woman at her stall at Papeete market

Girls' dresses for sale at market

Tarro root for sale (makes a wonderful ice cream flavour!)

Silk painting

Busy market

Choosing a black pearl

Lone paddler at sunset

Final Tahitian sunset

Plans for a trip to the neighbouring island of Moorea for some snorkelling had to be cancelled when we discovered the ferries were on strike!

So instead a small group of us spent a good deal of our day touring the local market. It was quite a vibrant place ... a mix local produce (fruits, vegetables and a lot of fish), lots of locally made clothes, and the expected assortment of Tiki-styled wooden carvings. But this was just a warm up pending our visit to one of the more reputable black pearl dealers.

French Polynesia is famous for black pearls, which are by the way, not black. They come in a wide range of colours, from a dark grey to a deep green, and can only be produced by an oyster found in these waters. Apparently it is illegal to simply gather up these oysters and opening them for the pearl inside. Instead all pearls are produced by farms at which the oysters have been grown specifically for this purpose.

The dealer was wonderful. He took all the time we needed to understand the difference between a quality pearls and one that is not worth spending money on (size, lack of imperfections, lustre are all part of the equation), and he never once entered into a sales pitch. As the two ladies in our group spent a good deal of time picking out the pearls they wanted and then deciding how they should be mounted, the rest of us sat a small tables where we were served beer! When the purchases were concluded, he even brought out champagne for any who wanted it. We left with two pairs of earrings and one bracelet.

After that it was back to our resort for lunch, a swim, and later snorkelling at the hotel's manmade lagoon which has been stocked with a wide variety of tropical fish, sea cucumbers and three sting rays.

After a terrific dinner, and a lame attempt at an evening nap, we packed up and headed to the airport for our 3:15 a.m. flight to Sydney.

The only sad note from our final day in Tahiti was the fact that I'd discovered I'd left my small camera in the van that brought us back from the restaurant last night. Although I'm sure we were the last ones to be in the van last night and though I called restaurant first thing they claimed not to have found it. The good news is that I'd already transferred the pictures I took prior to dinner to my computer. But you won't be able to see the fantastic view from the restaurant.

Next entry from Australia!

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