Travel l Emerald Isle NC

Bungalows at sunset in thailand paradiseCrashing a Club Med in French Polynesia, nonpaying guest intruder John M. Edwards discovers life is no picnic. . . .

I awoke on the rooftop of Tahiti’s international airport with a heavy jackboot nudging me in my ribs–!

“Monsieur, Monsieur, allons-y!”

All of the other sleeping backpackers, alerted by a piping yelp evocative of a vicious French poodle being savagely rogered insensate, rubbed the sleepy seeds from their eyes and gloomily gathered up their gear.

“Monsieur, allons-y, allons-y!”

The grim-faced Tahitian security guard, resembling Rousseau’s “Noble Savage” stuffed into an ill-fitting military uniform, seemed to derive unparalleled pleasure from the abuse of power and sticking it to the man.

All of us wandering drifters had been away from home for nearly a year, mostly picking up mail from various postes restantes, and wanted one last splurge on a really famous tropical paradise. Unfortunately, the island chain known to insular Americans and Europeans as just “Tahiti” (really only the main island of “French Polynesia”) didn’t actually quite fit the bill. It was less of a dream painting by Paul Gauguin and more of a horrific hallucination of Hieronymous Bosch.

Needless to say, during the taxi ride to any vacant hotel at all, we felt like impecunious paresseux or vagrants by force of necessity splitting the bill six ways and still finding the fare a little too dear. With our carefully hoarded funds dwindling, we would thus lower our expectations—or we would perforce be eating out of the proverbial poubelle.

Dumped outside an inn as intimidating as Eli Roth’s “HOSTEL” (thankfully closed down), our merry band of backpackers set off like Journey down the boulevard, followed by the dusky “natives” (all former headhunters), who, with evident hilarity, shouted at us in French, “Les Pains Mangée!!!”

We had no idea what in the hay they were talking about.

No idea, that is, until the reluctant French manager, clothed in neocolonialist mufti, of an overpriced hotel we landed upon only by mere happen stance, finally translated the insult: “Tzey are calling you ‘Tze Bread Eaters.’ Tzis is only a light insult for poor foreign travelers who can only afford to buy tze bread. . . .”

An actual part of the French Empire, most Tahitians prefer the status quo over separatist agitation. They eat unpasteurized Camembert and daring pates resembling lip-smacking upchuck; they drink low-grade plonk rouge (instant spew) that comes in handydandy plastic jugs instead of corked bottles; they read Tintin, Asterix, and Babar, and wear berets and play boules. But on one issue against the French colonials there is an established consensus: no more nukes!


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