24th April 2013
We woke up the next morning to the most spectacular view from our bed! I had left the curtains open so that we would catch the first light and it was SO worth it!
We were up and about at 7.30 and making the most of the stunning Intercontinental Tahiti Hotel. We strolled through paths winding around gorgeous gardens, we put our toes into the fine white sand that lined the incredible lagoon and watched the fish lurk just beneath the surface of the perfectly clear blue water.
We met Catherine and Jeff for breakfast and gorged ourselves on everything you can imagine, from rice and miso soup to local fish to cereal and bacon and eggs. We were there for a good few hours enjoying the sunshine, the surroundings and the food chatting about how we could not believe we were in Tahiti!
We made our way to the reception hoping to find our itinerary there and were greeted with goodie bags including t-shirts, wrist bands, magazines and booklets and our list of activities. We were due to go out on a tour of the Island and met with Cookie our guide.
He had the cutest giggle you have ever heard and knew a lot about his home town. He drove us around important buildings, explained the Tahitian people, their history and culture and talked with us like an old friend. We wandered around the market and greeted almost everyone there and marvelled at the pearls for sale in almost every shop. The black pearl is cultivated in Tahiti and they are just stunning.
We learned about the pearls (which is truly intriguing) and I asked Cookie how he would choose a pearl to but for someone, his response was simple and heartfelt and he said “you don’t choose the pearl, the pearl chooses you!” I stopped looking after that in fear that a pearl chose me and I couldn’t leave without it!!!
Next we were due to meet with Jessy from Air Tahiti Nui, the guy we had been talking with for 6 months making arrangements. He had worked so hard to pull this trip together and we were excited to meet him and thank him profusely. We met with him and the tourist board and chatted about the plans for our stay. The itinerary was very laid back and we were very, very excited.
We popped in to see a Chinese temple on our way back to the hotel and spent the afternoon enjoying the pools and the view.
The sunset that evening was spectacular and we (well Jeff) recorded it in time-lapse and I was so pleased it had been immortalised as it was just so beautiful! We were so incredibly lucky to be there to witness such a beautiful sunset in such an beautiful location.
Tahiti truly is Paradise!
We ate at the great Lotus restaurant that night and by 9pm we were all falling asleep into our food. We were exhausted. A whole 12 hour time change is pretty tough and we were all back in our rooms and in bed by 9.30!
The next morning, eager not to miss a thing we were up and at breakfast by 6.30. We enjoyed the calm and chatted while we waited to meet with Jessy again and the owners of the hotels and the marketing managers for the airlines. We really enjoyed chatting with them, where else in the world can you have a meeting with such important people while wearing flip flops and a floral shirt! It was quite and eye opener and we felt like we were in good hands.
We had a busy day ahead as we were heading over to another island, Moorea. We packed up our things and jumped on the ferry and watched in awe as an island that looked like the Jurrasic Park Island sailed into view! A huge green volcano seemed to grow out of the water as we approached it and we all sat with our mouths open as we were driven to our hotel. The perfect, pristine blue green water lapped at the shore as we drove the only road around the island. We arrived at the Intercontinental Moorea and stared with mouths open at the shell curtains and the fresh flowers everywhere.
We quickly dropped our things in our room and met again at the front of the hotel…we were being collected for our next wedding! Here on Moorea! A traditional Tahitian Wedding at the Tiki Village.
We were collected and driven to the Tiki Village and as soon as we arrived Alex was led one way and I the other! Catherine came with me and Jeff went along with Alex. I was taken into a small house made of woven vahine and my outfit was laid out on the table, two pieces of white cloth and a huge head-dress and what can only be described as a big feathered circle that went over my head and on my shoulders.
I was told by Lucinda to strip and lay on the table as I was to go though a purification ritual before entering the temple. Women were classed as impure due to them having periods so must be cleansed, purified and say a prayer before going to the wedding.
Lucinda then rubbed me head to toe, front and back in coconut oil and then covered me in one of the white sarongs that I was to be dressed in while she sang a prayer for me in Tahitian. I was dressed with serious skill in two square pieces of material and I was amazed at how good it looked…I of course could probably never recreate it if I tried for years!
My head-dress was balanced on my head and I walked out of the house and met Alex stood also wearing a white sheet, woven rushes around his neck and another beautiful colourful headdress!
We smiled at each others transformations and were led hand in hand to the Marae, the sacred temple by our priest, Tihoni and Lucinda. The priest’s voice boomed in Tahitian as he held the ceremony and Tihoni translated it all for us.
It was such a touching ceremony and we loved the tradition of binding our hands in ‘ti’ leaves and then pouring over the water from a freshly opened coconut as a blessing.
Tihoni and Lucinda explain that the Ti leaves represent strength and their symbol in the ceremony is an alliance between us, a bond, a proof of love and faith for each other, rather like the rings in modern weddings. The second symbol is a benediction, a blessing given by the coconut water, the “vaihaari”, which is a pure water. Pure because it is sealed in the shell of the coconut so there isn’t any angry or evil spirit in it. The last symbol is the “kerehaari” where our wedding name is written along with the given name of your first son and first daughter.
I managed to hold back the tears of emotion at the thought of our future family and as the ceremony came to a close the singing and dancing began. The celebrating was such great fun, we had to dance of course and we were no better at it than any of the other times we have danced! I think it is something we need to commit to learning a little more! We had our headdresses removed and replaced with wreaths of flowers and walked onto the glorious beach to take a few pictures!
The sand was so warm and the water so still. A tree offered us shade and as I looked down the beach I noticed it was scattered with huge Hibiscus type flowers that had fallen from the tree and laid fluttering in the breeze on the sand. It just made the setting so serene, so perfect and I could honestly not believe we were in paradise!
We ended the day with a meal back at the hotel outside in the cold breeze with Jeff and Catherine. We ate like kings, reflected on the ceremony and made plans for the next day…we were all in bed again by 9.30!
Paradise is a tiring place it seems!