Stuck in Paradise
I’m stuck in paradise. It’s been an incredible ordeal being stuck in paradise, and I slap myself each time I hear myself complaining about being stuck in paradise. But what I’ve learned over and over this last year is that paradise is never really paradise!
It’s been a couple of months since I first arrived in Pape’ete, Tahiti. My new cruiser family and I met here in mid-May and then took a flight to Apataki Atoll to pick up the captain’s newly purchased Lagoon 450 catamaran. We were only supposed to be in Apataki for less than a week, but then the Apataki Carenage (boatyard operation) gave our anti-Fallon necessary to paint the hull to another boat owner. That held us up an additional week until we could have a new one delivered.
We finally made it back to Pape’ete on June 8th with plans to stick around for less than a week. But, when we were going through some final boat inspections a few days later, we noticed a battery leaked on the life raft. After taking it in to be serviced, it was confirmed that the entire life raft would have to be replaced. Okay, that’s fine. We’ll just pick one around here, right? Wrong. The closest one we could find was all the way in Kiwi land in New Zealand.
What should have been a 4-day replacement process has turned into over a month due to email miscommunication and a lack of urgency with the execution on getting it here. What’s so important about the life raft? I’m sure there are at least a ½ dozen movies out there where a character has to abandon ship, and the life raft is their only chance at survival. Because we’re going on an approximate 14-day voyage to Tonga soon, you can understand why it’s important we have a working one of these.
The life raft actually arrived last Wednesday, but now it has to go through customs to clear. Lovely! Another process. Customs should only take a couple of days, but now we’re on island time with a holiday thrown into the mix. ☺
Why am I complaining so much about being stuck in paradise? Isn’t this an opportune time to explore towering waterfalls and chiseled pro-surfer bodies? Not exactly. French Polynesia is the most expensive place I’ve traveled since I quit my corporate job in September. I cry each time I see the 1050 xpf ($10 USD) sticker label at the Carrefour supermarché for one green bell pepper. Our “cat” is parked conveniently in front of dozens of retail and souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants! Ugh, somebody hang onto my crisp francs, please! I burned through $55 USD for 2GB of mobile wifi service in 30 minutes because it’s as slow as molasses here. The upside is I feel like I got a little bone thrown my way when I purchased a one-hour hot spot card for $5 USD and since then the WiFi Gods have mysteriously hooked me up in an “unlimited” sort of way. Suh-weet! At least I get one win.
The point is that I’m constantly tempted to be a consumer here. I’m finding the temptation to consume more material goods, and I’m getting accustomed to the luxury things in life again – like brand-name makeup, fancy shampoo, and great coffee. So is paradise really paradise when your old and unnecessary consumer habits return? I’ll let you answer that for you, but right now it’s not for me. I like having less. Less is more…more money in my bank account that is!