When airports are part of the vacation

I remember an article in Surfers Journal about Tahiti, where the author mentioned, “Tahitians only drive 40mph. Max. Which makes our Western obsession with productivity seem like a silly past time.”

As soon as you walk towards the customs line in Tahiti’s airport, feeling the warm tropical air for the first time, you’ll hear musicians playing Polynesian ukulele with ladies singing in accompaniment; and your concern about getting through the customs line to begin your vacation begins to ebb away. It takes a few minutes… but then you realize your vacation has already begun. The tempo of the people here is different.

The Tikehau airport is one step further into the slow-tempo. Just the view from the airplane (best on the left side to see the lagoon!) is already jaw dropping. On Aldebaran we have the added advantage of never bothering with such things as docks, so we anchor the boat right in front of the airport when weather permits. Our crew is well trained to accept such things as wet dinghy rides upon arrival, and oh isn’t it nice to not even get into a car?

As such, we picked up Gary & Jonathan at the airport, walked across from the terminal to an open lot that led to the lagoon. Through the coconut trees, the cyan-blue water popped like a 3D cartoon, with Aldebaran at anchor and our faithful Lambordinghy tied on the beach.

Pants are swapped for board shorts, eyes squint to understand the colors. “Wait, are those little reef sharks swimming in the shallows??” “Cute, aren’t they?” I wink, loading up the dinghy, firing up the Suzuki outboard engine… to head to our shared home of the next 7 days.

Photo: Beach in front of Tikehau airport.

Sent by satellite.

4 thoughts on “When airports are part of the vacation

  1. We started feeling this ‘Polynesian atmosphere’ as we boarded our connection to Tahiti from Los Angeles.
    Reaching our seats, I was about to lift my carry on bag to the overhead storage compartments when suddenly somebody GRABBED it from me and lifted it up for me. Surprised, I turned to face a Tahitian man’s beautiful smile. Wow, as I smiled back…how nice!”
    Just behind me my husband Bob began to remove his heavy winter jacket. He was also surprised from behind, by yet another smiling Tahitian who helped him remove his jacket. Wow, we said….double nice!!
    Tahitians are naturally lovely, helpful, and generous – very much reflecting the generous land they are from.

  2. I find find most airports, and the in-and-out a drag. Any airport I can’t walk across in 5′, forget it. I’d skip the endless security serpentines (especially the infamous Tom Bradley Terminal’s at LAX), check in lines, the conveyor belt mambo, immigration and customs, the crowds for any seedy, mid 20th century Greyhound station. Still, some airports are a treat. Like Tahiti’s, even PPT is not bad, Hawaiian Molokai’s glorified shed and, from what I read, those in the Tuamotus.

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