Papeete, Tahiti

The Epidemy of Tahiti Photography. I must have walked 100 miles all throughout Papeete these weeks. Photos really sum it up well. We were lucky to witness a small wedding ceremony and dance. Downtown every corner has either a Tahitian Pearl shop, a pub selling Hinano Tahiti Beer or possibly a cute Grandma lady hand crafting floral headgear. Country Pride is evident with many flags flying and banners announcing the Summer Olympic surf event next July. Resorts are primarily thatch roof huts over crystal clear aqua waters with views of the surrounding coral reefs. Typical fauna includes fragrant pulmeria and vanilla plants, banyan trees, mango, breadfruit and of course coconut. Its typical to find pastel colored churches and yummy fruit stands along the road. Unfortunately the wall art isn’t what we saw in Mexico, and there is quite a lot of Graffiti, as Papeete is a big city of 136 thousand people.

Travel Vacation Tips

Guadalajara Mariachi Festival, Mexico.

True Vacation or just more of the same? 2 years into our World travels and we have learned some very important tips. Traveling throughout Mexico, nearly all the United States and now French Polynesia have gained us some realizations that “not all is as it appears”.

Faking a call in Point Venus, Tahiti. We had to bus out of town 30 miles to find some local vibes.

We’ve grown up with our beliefs that we travel to these “Love Boat Destinations”. Let me explain. As young people (I know I’m dating myself) we grew up with expectations of these great vacation spots to see the world. For example Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, St Thomas, Oahu, Montego Bay, Tahití, and even Vegas or New York City. (enter your own memory here).

Makemo, Tuomotus, French Polynesia. This villager treated us to coconut milk, he lives alone, lives off the land and is the only person on this 2 mile wide (Motu) island.

30 years ago this might have been the cultural experience that reflected the county or region you were looking to see. But it’s 2023! Now-a-days these spots, and hundreds of others, nowhere near reflect the culture that actually resides in these countries or states.
My Uncle Lou (who traveled tonight countries) said to us “The less money you spend when you travel, the more you’ll see of what you really were hoping to experience”. It’s not about the pricey hotels and restaurants folks!! It’s about connecting with the local people! The biggest travel tip is that is FREE!

Renting bikes for the day in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
After scuba diving Fakarava south pass, it was time for a beer at the only bar in the village. Tuomotus, French Polynesia.

A week in the Hilton Hotel in Papeete Tahiti will have a nice pool, access to great fluffy drinks and catered scuba diving, but you will not see this island for the wonderful Polynesian Culture that has centuries of history. You won’t shop in their grocery stores or learn what drives their economy or family structures. Take a walk, a bus, see the people and explore.

Hiking the backside of Hiva Oa, Marquesis, we met Jaba cooking his fish dinner. He cut down coconuts for us!
Wandering around Fatu Hiva, we met Marta, she gave us 4 Pomplemouse and we gave her a raincoat.

Mexico is a perfect example of this. We spent nearly 2 years throughout these speacial coastal regions from Ensenada to Zihuatenejo. Biggest tip: A trip to Puerto Vallarta is the opposite of what Mexico is all about. There is a bar on every corner with pricey drinks watching other tourists walk the strip. Or siting at a nearby tourist beach, under a Palapa with nearby stands of inflatable Chinese beach toys. This is not the real Mexico.

A local invited us to dinner. Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia.
Local village children will come and play if you sit and hang out awhile!

Folks, if I may……. Get out of these places (unless that fluffy drink is what your looking for). Find someplace meaningful to you and maybe the people there will find you meaningful.
A week or two in Marquesas, Mexico City, Fakarava, Copper Canyon Mexico, Prague and millions of other places will leave you with more culture than all the places I listed earlier above. Rent an apartment, shop in their grocery stores, walk their streets…….have a drink in their corner bar….learn some of their language!
When you spend a $ in Cabo the bartender only cares about the next drink.
When you sit with the guy covered with tribal tattoos and he explains his involvement in the tribes drum group and explains how the village hunts together with the one gun in town he doesn’t care about your $’s. Just sayin’.

Agua Verde, Baja, Mexico.

If you’re still reading and interested, let’s talk safety.
Of all the time we’ve spent in Mexico, Kathy can only remember one time she felt unsafe and it was in Mazatlan. She confesses it was probably fine, but the area was dirty and sketchy and is not on our real Mexico list.
On the other hand, we’ve both felt unsafe in multiple places in the United States and in California. Of course we believe in not getting yourself in a bad situation. World wide! I feel it is much easier to get yourself in a bad situation in California than in Mexico.
Jus’ sayin’ again. Plan ahead, and GO!!

La Cruz, Mexico.
Mexico City.
Barra de Navidad, Mexico.

Heiva Festival, July 2023


Heiva is a spritely celebration and competition of ancient Polynesian culture (held every July) that was long suppressed by colonialism. However, many families from all over the 65 inhabited Islands secretly kept traditions alive practicing ancient dances and songs. France recently began ‘permitting’ the Island groups to participate again. Consisting of tribal dance and costume, art, sport and music. The musicians made instruments primarily drums, lukulele, a bamboo nasal flute, and conch shells.
Passionate singing is sung a cappella in the ancient native Tahitian language. It was amazing to experperience Heiva, such an incredibly unique and emotional celebration.

Grouper Spawning. Annual event Fakarava, French Polynesia

Featured on BBC’s series “Blue Planet II,” the coral reefs of French Polynesia host a very rare spectacle to see. Up to 18,000 Marbled Grouper fish migrate to the atoll Fakarava every July, at the full moon high tide. 1,000 grey reef sharks fill this Tuamotu archipelago in search of one thing: these marbled grouper, who have come to spawn. The sharks’ typically feed at night and gentle swim at rest in the day. The sharks live here year round, as it’s an easy place to rest, gently floating in the 3 knot current of the incoming or outgoing tides.

Sharks feeding behavior becomes unpredictable and erratic as darkness falls and the hunt begins, making for an extremely complex, exciting scuba dive. Some fish are lucky to escape the hungry jaws of the sharks.