There is also a Tahiti Iti, which would be a smaller island if the two weren’t connected at one point. One explanation was “Nui” means large and “Iti” means small but doesn’t explain Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which doesn’t have anything near it to be larger than. Maybe Nui just means land and Iti is an extra bit stuck on the side.
We had a tour and visited a nice little museum, the site of an ancient marae (now reconstructed), and a spectacular garden with all the flowers that make Tahiti Tahiti. There were lily ponds and waterfalls. Everything is green with no bare earth anywhere. Mangos, coconuts, avocados, and breadfruit seem to be everywhere.
[A few pictures when the upload works.]
Marae are raised or at least delineated platforms where are the important island meetings (councils of war; funeral of the kings, etc.) and religious events were held. Unlike the Rapa Nui, the Tahitian gods were into human sacrifice. Only the highest ranking men were allowed onto the stage. No woman could rank high enough.
Otherwise, we were disappointed and it is very unlikely we would ever consider returning. Our four-hour tour, in addition to the three stops I just mentioned, involved two and a half hours on a non-descript highway with almost all views of the ocean blocked by graffiti-covered cement block walls and views of the mountains obscured by utility lines and third-world shacks. There is almost no public access to the shore and no evidence of any kind of zoning or building codes. It is unfortunate for the Island’s future that so little of the shore has been preserved for any public use.
I realize everyone needs and deserves decent affordable housing. I am not advocating for the Cancun or Miami model of lining the beaches with luxury high rises; more the Minneapolis model of preserving the lake fronts for public parks. (Minneapolis has done less well with the river front.) While it may be “affordable”, I saw very little housing I would describe as “decent.” And I don’t know how they improve when they are squandering one of their few assets.
The Tahiti that we saw was not the Tahiti that Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian, Gauguin, and Marlon Brando saw.