We went out Tuesday morning for a half-day interior 4x4 tour of the island. We rode in a Land Rover Defender with Sebastian. Manimal rode in his car seat installed in the front (and quickly decided to nap), Hamish rode on a booster in the back with us. 
We drove through Papeete around the North side of the island to the valley that runs through the interior. Then we turned inland and drove up through the hills, stopping to see breadfruit, candle nut, and pomelo trees and a few varieties of ginger. We saw several of the permanent waterfalls and a couple of new ones for the rainy season. 
This is how you cross the river:

Near the top of our route we saw two of the six hydroelectric dams that help provide 25% of the island's power needs. We stopped to swim in the river. The kids loved jumping off rocks and I did flips and cannonballs to everyone's delight. Quite quite sadly, we left the cameras in the jeep so we could play in the river, but it was a lovely spot. A group of Tahitians were at the swimming spot at well, kids playing in the water and the adults cooking up lunch. 

While we were playing in the river the drizzle that had accompanied our drive up turned to driving rain. We climbed back into the truck--all four of us in the back--and carried on with the tour. In just a few minutes we reached the overlook into the crater of Tahiti's extinct volcano, but the rain and clouds kept us from seeing the other peaks that make up what's left of the crater rim. 
(I asked Sebastian how they could be sure the volcano was extinct and not just dormant. He said there were four "hot points" that created the Society Islands. The points are still there, but the tectonic plates on which the islands sit have shifted. Now the hot points are about 40 miles east of the islands in the middle of the ocean.)

We drove home in hard rain--Sebastian zipped down the plastic walls of our truck--watching many new waterfalls that hadn't been there earlier. Thankfully, there were no landslides, and we made it home safely.
This video is not taken from a boat:

We made it safely home, and Hamish took a much-needed nap, but Manimal was done. When Hamish woke up  there was a little playing with dress up clothes:
Then we headed into Papeete. We wandered around downtown, shopping the market and the vanilla shop.
Then we went to the roulette park to find dinner. They didn't open until 6, so we walked around and found our way to the tourism office. Alli and Hamish went in and were asking about going to see a dance show. This was something on our list-- these elaborate dance shows complete with buffet, but they are very expensive, long, and we could not find one that started before 8 p.m. We just didn't think we could make that work with the kids. But Alli was asking about this at the tourism office, and they were super helpful and just said "hey, we have dance shows on DVD". They popped one in, and all 4 of us sat in the lobby of the tourism office until after they were closed watching (not until the show was over). It was interesting, but I think this was the right speed. We proceeded out into the Place Vaiete to wait a little longer for the roulottes to open. There was an unused stage, so we decided to have some dancing of our own.

Finally we ate dinner at the roulottes, poisson cru for me again, pasta for Alli. Dark clouds blew in with the Paul Gaugin (cruise ship), and the bottom fell out on us as we were finishing out une glace. But it was short, we hid under the roulotte "wings" and then we were able to stroll back to our car dry. 


We got up without a firm plan, but made it to the car. We stopped at the drive through restaurant at the bottom of the hill and bought a half dozen Beard Papas (yum!) and a 10-piece of fried chicken. We planned to go to the Cosmetic Laboratory of the South Pacific to learn about Monoi oil. Sadly when we got there they were closed until January 13th :-(

We came back toward home and stopped on the road for bananas and at a Super U for some Brie. We added those to our baguette and drove to the PK18 beach for lunch. 

It was hot when we got there and our little beach tent didn't make a huge difference, but we ate chicken and cheese and bread in its shade. All in a five minute span the Manimal sat on the sunscreen, Hamish bit into her Beard Papa and lost most of its gooey goodness filling, and it started pouring. But we hung in there. Soon the rain stopped, the sand was considerably cooled, and we had a lovely morning at the beach. 

The kids had a great time with the beach toys and were comfortable enough in the lagoon than Alli and I each went snorkeling. There was some coral bleaching, but we saw beautiful fish that easily rivaled things we've seen on dives. It's the only time I remember walking out from a beach, snorkeling, and seeing anything worth seeing.
We packed up our things and got in the car just before the rains came and stayed all afternoon. But after a long morning at the beach the kids both napped well. And Alli and I discovered some pretty serious sunburn on our backs, guess we had too much fun snorkeling.

We ended the day with a trip to Carrefour and then--after missing an easier turn around--drive-through dinner at McDonalds. 

The rain decided to stay for the rest of our visit. We got up late, then drove around the whole island. We had a couple of stops in mind but the Hall house was still closed, and we couldn't find the lava tubes. 

We had lunch in Taravao, where we fed our children pretty questionable meat. Andouillettes. We both speak a little French, and based on best guesses, we just figured this was little sausages. Sounded like a nice option. But I think when the meal came out I checked the Manimal's diaper. Andouillettes, it turns out, are coarse-grained sausages made with pork, intestines, pepper, wine, onions, and seasoning. I'm pretty sure these were mostly intestine. Oddly enough, neither child liked them much. I ate a couple of bites, thinking there must be some redeeming quality, but no. They are an acquired taste, and one that I have no care to acquire. The worst thing is they were the most expensive item from our lunch.

I had yummy poisson cry again that was only mildly tarnished by the andouillette aroma.  I could definitely eat this stuff with regularity.
We stopped at the grotte de maraa on the way home, but falling rock signs everywhere and rain kept us from spending too much time or getting quality photos. They are little grottos- small caves filled with water that are supposed to always be cool. Well we got this one photo of Hamish on our stroll anyway:
We came home and took long naps while it rained. While Hamish was sleeping, I decided to try to tighten the legs/joints on our host family's coffee table. It was just a little loose and seemed like an easy thing to improve, so why not? I put the table up on its side to work on it, and the Manimal came to investigate. It did not immediately occur to me that this could be a problem (I was preventing the table from falling over in any way).  There was a glass insert in the table, but it was inset such that I didn't really consider it might fall out. Manimal pushed it right out and it shattered into a million pieces. Praise the Lord it was shatter-proof glass (so it broke in chunks, not shards and splinters) and everyone was fine. I also did not get the table tightened...

We swept up and had to email the host family, hoping we could find a way to make amends, like by replacing their coffee table. They were amazingly gracious about it and said not to worry about it at all. In the end, we left some cash that would have at least covered replacing the glass in the U.S. There, we have no idea, it's just not the kind of place you can go online and order replacement glass. But we told our hosts worst case they don't fix it and they have a nice dinner or two- or they fix it with something else cheaper and this more than covers that cost. 

Thursday night--in order to get out of the house--we brought our popsicles and ice cream to the beach and ate our treats and walked on the rocks. This is that place.
Then we went home and had pizza. 

Friday we wanted to go kayaking, so we got up and got ready to go to the park at PK18.5 and rent kayaks. Unfortunately, the rain had scared everyone off and no one had kayaks for rent there. 

We drove up and down the road through Punaauia again and again looking first for signs about kayaks, then at a guesthouse that was supposed to have kayaks, and finally to Le Meriden and the Intercontinental. The kayak rentals at the Intercontinental were the best, so we finally got out on the water for about an hour. Manimal rode with me and Hamish rode with Alli. They both did beautifully.

When we were done, we went home for naps and again a quiet dinner. And we stopped for a few more local mangoes and pineapple.
We meant to spend our last morning at the beach, but the car wouldn't start when we got down there. We were tired of breaking things, so we didn't push it. Instead we went to the condo's pool for a while.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning and napping, trying to get the house in great shape to leave. We didn't get all of the sheets dried--it's hard to finish the laundry on move-out day with no dryer, but otherwise did a decent job.

We were packed up and gone by 7, giving us plenty of time for our 11 pm flight. Faa'a airport was not great by any stretch. It was basically closed when we showed up at 7 with people waiting out front just to get in. We got a little bit of special care because of the kids, but still waited in the heat for a while. Even once in and past security, there was some air conditioning, but also an open wall to outside, so we sweated for a while, which just feels wrong in an airport when you are not running for your plane. I also changed the Manimal on the floor in the airport since the bathroom was in no way equipped for baby care. The duty free shop was the best thing going because it was very nicely air conditioned. We picked up some Tahitian rum drink for toasting when we got back home.

The flights home were long flights, but uneventful and for the most part everyone slept. We were extremely poorly dressed for American when we arrived, but so very, very happy to be home.