Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia
We’re going to tackle the rest of this town in three parts: food, music and sexuality/spirituality.
Let’s start with food. Because really, that last one will probably have you checking back at least to see what we have to say.
The center of Papeete is the 2 story market. The bottom floor is occupied by fresh fish and produce booths, while the top floor & outside block are comprised of souvenir shops. Though we rarely like touristy stuff, we thought it was neat that this place puts locals and visitors into the same place.
Remember when we thought we had ordered French fries in our sandwich by mistake? Turns out the reason the server didn’t think it was odd is that’s actually how they serve French fries in Polynesia. As in inside the sandwich.
Oh, and 200 French Polynesian Francs was about equal to $2 USD. Yay!
Also, every evening the parking lot at the tourist center downtown plays host to an unusual spectacle. All of these “taco trucks” (none of which actually sell tacos here…) gather, put out some tables and poof! Instant food court.
Mind the cockroaches and the rats as big as a human hand. They mostly hide in the bushes though, so as long as you politely avert your eyes they’ll just grab the leftovers and scurry back into the shadows…
So that’s how the tourists eat and what about the locals? We found out that since everything is so expensive in Polynesia, the French government actually subsidizes what it deems to be “essential foodstuffs” so the locals can eat without going broke. The reason why we could get baguettes on every tiny little speck of inhabited rock we found was that the French government fixes the price for a full sized, freshly baked baguette at 50 CFP (CFP originally stood for Colonies Françaises du Pacifique (“French colonies of the Pacific”). It was eventually changed to Communauté Financière du Pacifique (“Pacific Financial Community”) before it was finally changed to its present official meaning, Comptoirs Français du Pacifique (“French Pacific Banking Agreement”)) and was equal to about 50 cents USD. 50 cents! Which is just not fair to our waistlines! Other staple items included: rice, flour and check this out: VanCamps Pork & beans is a subsidized essential food? Really? The can of beans with the little bit of pork in it is considered by the French government a staple food group? Wow. We had a dinner of only subsidized foods in order to get a feel for a real modern Polynesian dinner and let us tell you what. Veggies? No. Protein? Ok, some. Carbs? All over it! Atkins dieters would not last long out here.