On the map, are just a few points scattered in the Pacific, more closely, it’s 118 islands in five archipelagos, surrounded by a turquoise sea, and the exact combination of luxury and exoticism. Of course, as they visit other islands, begins to understand something of the Polynesian parameter. To get an idea: this French overseas territory, which insinuates itself on the map as a constellation of dots scattered across the Pacific, consists of 118 islands, spread into five archipelagos: Society (the most populated and visited), Tuamotu, Gambier, Marquesas and Austral Islands. Some 40 of them are simply uninhabited.
Papeete, on the other hand, is a strip of 30 km and 127,000 inhabitants, half of all Polynesian population. It is also the closest thing to a city that can be found in these corners of the world, its streets clogged with cars, a demoniac and a bustling traffic commercial port. Then there is the bottomless blue sea that desaperece on a curve and reappears in the next, black sandy coast, an interior of jagged mountains and smelling weed that breaks in the asphalt.
By day, the city’s pulse beats in the central market, Le Marche du Papeete, which occupies an entire block and overflows with fruit, fish, vanilla in all its forms and at night, move the move the “caravans” a kind of fair food outdoors, overlooking the harbor, where dozens of trucks and trailers deployed chairs, plastic tables and even cooking, riding those peculiar restaurants on wheels. Despite the smoke, the ride is scenic and a good way to approach the local cooking, which is known for raw fish (most popular is the mahi-mahi marinated in coconut milk and lime), but also by the influence Chinese (not new: the Chinese make up 12% of the inhabitants of Polynesia) and gourmet cuisine, the latter is of undoubted French label.
Evening in Polynesia:
Tahiti is often a stopping place for the bulk of tourists, who see it as a platform to travel to other islands. These are many and so different from each other than usual is to visit at least two or three.
Among the Society Islands are some considered “savages”. With few hotels, few tourists, much local flavor. Raiatea is one of them. Ojo, for those seeking Polynesia postcard may become disappointed in this island of turquoise sea, yes, but no beaches.
Raiatea, meanwhile, is to learn from within. And into the forest bathed in waterfalls, kayaking traced the only navigable river in Polynesia, the Faaroa (which runs inside the crater of a volcano), or discover the botanical garden, an explosion of flowers and colors, and intense nature. Besides being known as the yachting capital, also called Holy Island, was considered the cradle of Polynesian civilization. From here sailed the “pirogues” that colonized Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. And, as Mecca and Medina, the Polynesians pilgrimage at least once in their life to the island to tread the famous marae (temple) Taputapuatea. True that we should have a good dose of imagination to see these stones ruined a place where you performed the most solemn investiture ceremonies, and also human sacrifices.
Today, instead of churches sharp rise Maraes everywhere. The English missionaries made fervent Protestant Polynesians. You have to see how they dress up to go to Mass on Sundays, and even the head mahus decorated with more flowers than usual. The Reres mahus or, for some, are men who like women and that here are no surprise to anyone. A widespread custom in many families is in fact the eldest son and educate women to help with household chores and raising children. Today, the hotels are vying to mahus because they are usually attentive, polite and efficient.
Some unwary may mistake them emblems of Argentina. They are blue and white flags that rise here and there on some islands, warm symbol of struggle for independence some years ago undertook groups. Although if you look closely at the white stripe of yellow flags are five small stars, one for each archipelago of French Polynesia, a territory spread over ocean surface as large as Europe.
But for now, it seems that neither France nor most of the Polynesian population is willing to release bonds. The reality is that Paris is the real economic powerhouse of the hundred islands, which, moreover, have sufficient autonomy to choose its chairman and controlling their internal affairs.
The official language here is French, and the inhabitants of this tropical happy people have also passport of the mother country. Anyway, the Polynesians have fiercely defended their traditions over time, from the dances and tattoos up his clothes (the women never stopped wearing sarong, which are tied with the dexterity of a thousand and one ways), respect by the family or the language, which survived despite having been banned for decades.
LAN is the only airline that makes direct journey from Buenos Aires to Papeete. It has two weekly flights with stopovers in Santiago and Easter Island. From Santiago, there are 11 flight hours.
In Polynesia there are many large resorts and luxury hotels, with prices ranging between 150 and 800 euros per day. Anyway, overall costs are cheaper with the packages, which also include air.