Aute II, Pape’ete Wednesday 15th of July 2009
This morning we left with Manuel at about 6:20 (I’m usually awake by sunrise, so I really like starting early). He had to organize some things/meet some people since the “Dawn Princess” – a big cruise ship was supposed to anchor in the harbor of Pape’ete (if the doctors found it to be safe – they had a few passengers with swine flu on board (seems to be spreading across the globe quite fast – just got an e-mail from Dundee yesterday saying that a few members of the university are also infected)).
Since we’d left without breakfast we made our way to the next supermarket (which conveniently opened at 7:00) and bought some milk and Müsli (Raphael had packed a bowl and spoon). I am quite sick of all the sugar (they don’t seem to be able to eat anything sugar free for breakfast here – I miss oats and rye bread!) so I became a bit rebellious and grabbed some mustard. Then I wanted a cucumber too (I didn’t think it was a very bright idea to carry an open (half full) pack of milk around in the heat all day) but Raphael thought Müsli was enough… I got grumpy so he agreed (I am so stubborn! Most of the time I get what I want (apart from a happy and healthy planet… and a flying carpet) – people around me are just too compliant).
We had a very classy Müsli-baguette-mustard-and-cucumber-breakfast in the Parc Bougainville from where we could observe some locals (women of all ages around the table near us) who had been sitting there chatting from when we first walked past (just before 7:00) and were still there when we left about two hours later. No one seems to be in a hurry here (I am repeating myself)! And they don’t seem to be bothered by noise very much. An idyllic humming of a leaf blower filled the air of the parc – I wonder who invented these annoying things. Pape’ete really is a “Pestbeule” (plague spot – as Dirk writes) – especially with all the unsound tourists swarming into town bringing money (probably the doctors were bribed to let them out in order to help the stricken economy – profit always comes before health… that’s probably one of the golden rules of economics*) and disease 😉
We finished the printed version of our questionnaire (decorated it with our universities’ logos – to make it look more professional) and after a few fruitless attempts to access the Manaspot and download my e-mails (technology can chew up so much energy, time and patience) we walked to the ministry for the environment to ask if we could spontaneously see the minister or Paula. They both weren’t there so the secretary offered us help and we printed 200 questionnaires (2 per page – double-sided… unfortunately not on recycled paper, I think) and had all the employees around answer one. I think some of the questions are too difficult to answer and I wonder whether the answers of the employees will influence our results in a “positive” way – it’s so difficult to be neutral!
We bought two clipboards (probably made in China – “life is all about compromises” as my dad would now say), Raphael called Nelson Teiti (Tai’nas brother, who has a company that also installs photovoltaic panels – we’ll probably take a boat to Raiatea (one of the Leeward Society Islands) next week and stay there for a bit), Christian (the publisher – we’ll meet him on Friday) and Lauren Catlain (the contact from Paula). Then he went to see latter contact (or his secretary) to pick up some documents and went shopping while I set out to bug some locals with 22 questions each (before asking for Manuel at the tourist information (avoiding to touch anything that could potentially have swine flu on it – my mommy made me a paranoid 😉 – I could already see us going home so late – so that we could get a ride up the hill in his… car). I tried to ask a variety of people (different ages and genders – not too sure whether I should tick “vahine” (female) or “tane” (male) when I come across a transvestite (there are quite a few here – it seems to be a very normal and natural thing)) and found out that they all want renewables, if they’re not too expensive (money seems to be of big importance) no one here knows about geothermal energy and they all blame politics for the unsustainable development. Females are more optimistic when it comes to achieving energy autonomy within the next 15 years and at the end of the day my tongue felt fuzzy from all the talking.
When the vendors covered up their stalls with colourful pieces of fabric for the night I wondered why Raphael hadn’t come to pick me up yet – shopping couldn’t have taken that long! I found him sitting by one of the exits (fortunately my intuition/coincidence lead me to the right one) he had been waiting for about two hours because he couldn’t find me – I was probably talking to the ladies making flower bouquets and bast-leaf-leg-thingies for Heiva at the back). We took “le truck” towards Pirae where we got off to try the next Manaspot. We got quite a few responses – someone didn’t understand how to answer one of the questions (filling in numbers from 1 to 5 – meaning 1,2,3,4,5!) and I also found a very rude and offensive e-mail from a man with whom Raphael had hitchhiked (he had been involved in the nuclear weapons testing here – I wonder how someone like that can have a conscience at all – but he must since he was kind enough to pick up Raphael). He got quite personal and claimed “my” questionnaire to consist of leading questions and proposed a mini nuclear power plant for Tahiti to achieve energy autonomy (wonder where he sees the autonomy aspect – I am quite sure that Tahiti doesn’t have uranium deposits – so that would have to be imported – and he’s probably not thought about a place for final repository of the nuclear waste… well I guess one could just dump it in the ocean which is full of strange looking fish anyway… – but I’m the one who’s stupid and hasn’t though enough – grrrrrr). I got so angry and charged up when I read this that Raphael and I got into another fight 🙁
When we came home (fortunately we had settled our differences) we talked about unscientific things and Raphael suggested I take a vacation… from worrying (my conscience?! How does that work?)!
Final thoughts of the day: If one could switch off emotions, one would be a lot more efficient; our insect repellant supplies are rapidly diminishing and I am quite excited about leaving Tahiti and seeing another island!
*this reminds me of “the Yes Men” – two men who played an amazing trick on Dow Chemical by announcing that they’d finally accept responsibility for the explosion of a chemical plant and pay compensation to the victims in Bhopal, India.
Aute II, Pape’ete Thursday 16th of July 2009
Today we both spent a bit of time writing and Raphael called the office of the two ferries heading for Raiatea – there seem to be no spaces up until the 18th of August! I shall wander around Pape’ete again today and pester lots of people with my questions. Raphael is staying at home to read.