Friday, April 20, 2012

50. Travel: Tahiti

How To Convince Complete Strangers That You’ve Been To Tahiti

When I was young(er), my best friend Charity and her exceedingly generous family invited me to go to Tahiti with them.  Uh, yes, please.  After the phone call came in, I started packing my bags.  Since I am a Virgo, I packed and repacked  and unpacked and repacked approximately 87 times. 

But this essay is not about my OCD tendencies, this is about making people believe you went somewhere fabulous.      

I spent the entire 10 hour flight with my face Velcroed to the window, looking for signs of land, and mentally preparing to tell the pilot when we were there. 
Once in Tahiti, I knew exactly what I wanted to do:  nothing.  My brand of nothing consisted of lying on the beach, or, alternatively, wading in the crystal blue water. 

Our hotel, as most hotels are in Tahiti, was comprised of little mini-bungalows built on stilts above the water.
I should point out here that although we flew into Papeete (pronounced Pop-ah-eeee-tay), we actually took a miniature airplane to another island ...
... the island of Bora Bora, which is where we stayed.  Bora Bora is like the Beverly Hills of Tahiti.  Papeete is like the Compton or South Central L.A. of Tahiti.  This is important for my story.    
We basically stayed at the hotel lounging on the beach for most of the week. 
The hotel food was magnificent, so there was not much reason to leave.  However, we did trek out to the one local restaurant, Bloody Mary’s, for dinner one evening. 
It is a restaurant unlike any I had ever seen before.  First of all, there is no floor.  You are outside, and the floor is sand.  You are barefoot, why wouldn’t you be?  Second, there are random cats wandering around.  Did I mention the floor is sand?  Yes?  Just checking.  Third, the owners come out to greet you, and it is obvious that they are drunk and have been since 1982.  It was an experience dining there, to say the least. 

The big item that everyone wants to buy in Tahiti is black pearl jewelry.  Black pearls are rare, and apparently Tahiti is about the only place to find them.  That and the hotel gift shop.  Black pearls in the United States cost approximately $10,000 each.  Black pearls in Tahiti cost only $8999.  You can see that this is quite a savings. 
When I was working at the high-end kitchen store for four years and pretending that I did not actually have a college degree in English Literature, I liked to “place-drop.”  This is name-dropping’s evil cousin twice removed.  I developed this nasty habit of place-dropping long before I became a flight attendant.  Here’s how it works: 

Customer:  We just got back from Florida.  It was nice. 
Me: (stifling a yawn) That’s great, Florida.  Wow.  I went to St. Martin once.  You know, in the Caribbean?  THAT was fantastic. 

Co-worker:  I would like to go to Honolulu someday. 
Me:  I've been there.  Twenty-five times.  You should skip Honolulu and go straight to Maui instead.  Or better yet, Kauai.  That’s where the filmed Jurassic Park.  Not when I was there, but that is where they filmed it. 

See?  I have this pathological need to impress people and tell them all the places I’ve been, or how the places I have been are better than the places they have been, or if we have been to the same place, I have to quiz them to be sure they’re not lying. 
Which brings me back to Tahiti.  It's expensive to go there, and there is no way I could ever afford to go there (see previous:  worked at high-end kitchen store) unless Charity’s benevolent family had not paid my way.  If you would like to go there, but don’t have $30,000 laying around (airfare) or another $50,000 (hotel), then let me give you some helpful hints to convince other people who have been there that you have been there too (even though you haven’t). 

When you overhear someone say, “We just got back from Tahiti,” run over and introduce yourself.  You can do this if you are at a party, at work, or even your local Starbucks.  The point is, it does not matter if you know the person.  It’s actually better if you don’t. 
Say to them, “Tahiti?  Wow, fun.  Which island?” 

When they respond, “We were in Papeete,” crinkle up your nose and say, “Ugh, why?” 

If they happen to answer Moorea or better yet, Bora Bora, tell them you also went to Bora Bora.  If they happen to add that they were on a cruise there, crinkle up your nose again and say, “We prefer to get to know one place intimately than have to shuttle around and just get a touristy overview.  But I’m glad it worked out for you.” 
If they say that they stayed on the island of Bora Bora, this is your chance to shine.  Immediately say, “Did you go to Bloody Mary’s?”  They will, of course say yes, as this is the only restaurant on the island (besides the hotel restaurants).  Next, laugh and say, “Can you believe those owners?” or “Geesh, sand on the floor, and so many stray cats everywhere!”  Then you and your brand new best friend can share a knowing laugh. 

Finally, pull out your (fake) black pearl necklace, purchased from Target.  Make sure the side where the “pearl” finish is peeling off is facing away.  Show your new friend your lovely souvenir, and then recall wistfully, “There is nothing in the world like black pearls from Tahiti.” 

They will nod. 
And then you ask them if they have ever been to Russia. 



  1. How did I not know you had another blog? I must have missed that plug.

    Your snobbery about travel is quite awesome. I almost booked a Groupon to papeeatay. Glad I have you to keep me classy.


  2. You meet people on holidays all the time that set out their stall - as it were - in social standing stakes - as soon as you meet them. I always wonder why they have deigned to come on this lowly tour if they have had these experiences...bit of a giveaway really so can smile serenely and move on to someone else!

  3. Tahiti AGAIN? YAAAWWWN. Oh well, you're just a blogger. (Seriously, enjoyed this post very much!)

  4. Love the maps, especially, well done, MOV.

  5. Enjoyed browsing your blog. Glad you love Sydney, I live there.

  6. I found your blog from the A to Z challenge - actually LOL'ed. Thanks for the laugh!

  7. bahaha! Great post. I, too, have been to Russia. ;)

  8. Love it! I'll remember this if I ever meet anyone who's been to Tahiti. ;)

    Got to go buy my plastic black pearls...


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