Postcard from Rangiora

Well All four flights HAVE all gone OK so far, fingers crossed. It's a very very long way: just over an hour to Paris, twelve hours on to LAX, all chasing the sunset, its tantalising line of red always just on the horizon but never getting any nearer. Then nine hours to Tahiti, all in pitch darkness, no moonlight nor even any city lights far below. Now three hours more by turbo prop from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Archipelago of French Polynesia in the South Pacific.

Business people on the London-Paris, a mixture of French going to LA and returning American software people and American silver haired tourists ion the flight to LAX. But a far younger, sporty crowd on the flight to Papeete, plus a small group who it was no surprise being marshalled by a Légionnaire on arrival. Now on the flight to Nuku Hiva, mostly locals.

Even US Immigration was relatively efficient, although there were something like five lines to standing for Immigration, customs, pre-security, security and then finally to board. Another long long flight overnight from Los Angeles to Papeete; I was beginning to despair of the whole discomfort and sheer boredom of travel but getting outside to the hot humid air and the strong clear sun light did remind me why I'm here and yes, it is worth it already.

But it is the thirteenth November and when I reclaimed my suitcase - yes it did arrive at the right time with me - but the locks had been forced open by US security for an inspection. They left a note inside before taping it up closed. I'd specifically asked the check in person at Heathrow whether or not I should lock it so I'm a bit miffed. Air France have supplied a cheap substitute, it's not a Samsonite but it will see me through this trip. And I found I'd left my mp3 player in the seat when I disembarked at Papeete, another claim with the Air France office, though it sounded like they knew of it already, ie it might have been found.

Now I wasn't expecting to take in Rangiora because it's an atoll, so more for the divers and the honeymoon couples in the huts on sticks over the beach. It turns out that the flight on from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva stops at Rangiora, initially for a refuelling. This got slightly prolonged on account of the weather report for the ongoing route - presumably the same storm which the big flight from LAX had delayed its departure slightly to take on extra fuel so it could divert around it. Anyhow, not quite your usual airport: walked off the tarmac to the atoll (it's huge, the whole of Tahiti would fit in the lagoon) and enjoyed the place, see postcard which I've knocked up on the remainder of the route to Nuku Hiva.

Currently very tired: haven't slept properly for ages but the time zone change doesn't seem to be too worrying. Hoping for some rest and then some hiking on Nuku Hiva.