By Anneka Bones
For the first time in over seven months of backpacking, we were the only people I could see who had rucksacks. We were, finally, breaking new travelling ground and wow, were we loving it!
Piled into an area, akin to some form of large cattle shed with round benches, we happily sat amongst the locals, waiting for the ferry to arrive that would take us from the bustling Tahitian capital, Papeete, to the idyllic, peaceful island of Moorea. These were new pastures for us – Tahiti was our luxury stop on our Round The World trip, and after almost eight months of winter (we chased the sun the wrong way…), I was lapping up the sweltering heat, and the new, exotic sights and sounds of island life. Ladies, selling fruit on sticks and nuts from baskets, wandered through the rapidly growing crowd, smiling and laughing whilst also eyeing us slightly suspiciously, probably viewing us as grubby children amongst the rich elite with their expensive handbags and private taxi transfers to the ferry. (Quite different from our journey to the ferry terminal – lugging 20kg on my back whilst my little legs hurried to catch up with my 6 foot 3 boyfriend, being bounced throughout the crowd like the ball in a pinball machine, whilst the ukulele street sellers provided an upbeat soundtrack perfect for our comedy double act!)
Our varieties of luggage, however, soon became academic when one by one around six hundred bags were piled up and squashed into four cargo boxes. We tried to avoid this fate for our beloved possessions but soon realised it was inevitable (after being told twice to chuck them in the boxes by the fruit-sellers!) so we eventually watched our bags descend into the depths of baggage mayhem as we boarded the long awaited ferry.
Half an hour at sea and we were pulling into the gorgeous, lush, mountainous inlet of Moorea, breathing a big sigh of relief that it really was as beautiful, if not more so, than we had anticipated, and that, yes, paradise really did exist!
Collecting our bags was a hysterical feat – the only way to get them back was to retrieve them from the cargo boxes which had been dumped by a JCB at the bottom of the boat ramp. People were climbing and scrabbling, rushing to get their belongings – I heard an English woman behind me tut and exclaim how it would never happen in England, but really, isn’t that what made it an even more sensational experience?!
Bags nestled on our backs again, the liberating feeling of having all your possessions upon your body rapidly returning, we set off for our hotel. I already knew, from the moment we arrived, this was now our corner of the world; uninterrupted, untouched, unspoilt and carefree, this paradise would always stay with us. This was our private wonderland, and the best thing of all? Our rucksacks were still the only ones in sight…perfect!
Anneka’s trip was arranged by Southern Cross Travel’s Rye office at 77a The Mint – 01797 229 200
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