Peter turns to me and smiles, feet dangling in the water. “We’re in Tahiti,” he says.
After 40 days in French Polynesia, this little fact still makes us smile, still makes us pause. In theory, Tahiti’s not for the likes of us. Peter is the son of two teachers. I am one of eight siblings raised in London’s worst area for child poverty, the point being: neither of us come from money – not the kind that lets you take a year off and spend Christmas in Tahiti. And yet here we are.
We are, of course, ‘DIY-ing’ it to stay within our carefully monitored budget but that’s okay – budget travel has benefits of its own. We’re used to untraditional Christmases. This time last year, Peter was in India with his father, reuniting him with long lost friends. I was in my flat in Newbury Park watching bad television and eating too much chocolate.
This Christmas, we’ll wake up, eat breakfast (most likely pancakes because, hey, it’s Christmas), cycle down to the water in Teahupoo and go for a swim. Or maybe we’ll take out the boat if Michel has fixed it by then.
For lunch, we’ll have something that can be cooked on our single hob (there’s no oven but we do have a microwave) and then we might invite our hosts over for an afternoon drink. They’re not celebrating this year. Bernard, a 70-year-old ex pilot and his wife, Francois, have an empty nest.
We’ll Skype Peter’s parents at some point in the day to wish them merry Christmas and give our love to the kids in the family. I’ll then spend a few hours on the book I was meant to have finished this year (interspersed with frequent trips to Facebook and Twitter no doubt). We’ll head out to watch one of Teahupoo’s glorious sunsets, spend some time planning the next leg of our journey and then maybe watch a film to wrap up the day. I’ll suggest something sentimental because, hey, it’s Christmas. Peter’ll probably want to watch Rush for the fifth time. I’ll probably win.
In short, it will be both an ordinary and extraordinary day. We wish the same for you.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Kia & Peter