Published: February 2nd 2013February 2nd 2013
I woke up at sunrise, stumbling out into the most beautiful scenery you could imagine, and realising its real. The sort of place where blinking is a sin because thats one millisecond of it you missed. I knew one thing about Bora Bora, I did not want to do the tourist things, I wanted to find out from the people what the real deal was, I was looking for the real Bora Bora, not the day visit cruise ship one. Two different things.
The best way to get around Bora Bora as a single white female is hitching. Because there are no other SWFs heading rapidly towards that big 5-0 wandering along the islands one road by the time you have hitched your first lift, everyone knows who it was with and that you are..a pure australian and you dont have a husband. I took to answering the obligatory "Where is your husband madam?" by looking behind me and saying dramatically "OH! He must have fallen off le plane!"...the first guy who gave me a lift spoke no english but detoured to pick up his impossibly good looking cultured and well travelled specimen of a man ive ever
seen mate who spoke perfect english and proudly told me of his family and his daughter who was a neurologist in chicago. They were very curious about me because Bora Bora is full of well, couples, who lie on the deck of their bungalow and order room service not go hitching around at 6am. Bit eager!.
I explained to the beautiful man that I wanted to book a dive and he said he would have friends who would arrive when the shops opened and he would find me and organise it and explained he and his friend worked for a jeep safari tour business to cater to the shippers. Downtown Viapate is a pretty much non event type place, a few pearl stores, Changs the worlds most expensive grocery store and a tattooist and some other dreary service buildings but hey lets all adopt Bora Bora home decor..ugly verandah poles? wrap them up in palm fronds and decorate them with flowers...it truly is beautiful. I wandered around the closed shops and banks then noticed people setting up so I wandered down and saw everyone helping everyone set up business for the day. Which is when I met
Robyn, a beautiful part choctaw indian woman who had married Ben, a lovely happy Polynesian man after she had visited as a SWF 20 years ago and married him and found her paradise. I watched her deal with the cruise shippers herding them off to their respective tours, ringing tour providers letting them know of updates, and in all currencies and about three languages. She was amazing!.
I booked a dive thru her with the least popular choice, because they were the only ones going out who would take a solo diver in the next three days, and she told me where she lived and asked that i would drop in and see her and meet her husband the next day and even rang that night to let me know the coconut telegraph was working so she knew i got a lift home and would ring the next day to make sure dive shop picked me up.
No diving that day so I wandered back out after spending a couple of hours chatting with Robyn, got a lift in a couple of minutes with a hilarious canadian drunk with no teeth because his large and equally
drunk and hilarious tahitian wife, his next wife, he called her, regularly dished him out a smack in the mouth when he got too out of control. Hes the town mechanic. I know all this because of the coconut telegraph. I went back to the sofitel, changed into a bikini and went for a swim then did some shallow freediving over the reef in the lagoon and went back to the private island for lunch. Taaroa the pool guy was full of smiles as always when I came back and seemed really keen on talking but was knocking off shift. He was telling me of good public beaches to watch the sun set from and spots I could see when I took my morning ''tour'' as the polynesians refer to your stroll.
And take your stroll slowly. Several times people called out from their houses Madam! Slow down, enjoy, no rush..I hadnt realised I was rushing?. And I learnt to walk polynesian slow. Like the act of walking is a sheer delight in itself, because the slow pace allows you to drink in this stupidly beautiful place, with its insane scenery and oceans and skies. All you
need to do is slow down...you may just find the air is perfumed, and you are walking between a fragrant jungle and a turquoise ocean so indeed, why rush?.
I asked Taaroa to watch the sunset, not for any other reason than I knew he couldnt talk to guests at work, and he remembered my name and seemed absolutely delighted to see me. We actually ended up sitting on the deck of the now deserted bali hai resort watching the sun go down, talking, he was curious about Australia and why we lived the way we did, in concrete. He was only a young guy, 32, loved his fishing and had worked as a dive guide. I cracked up laughing at his advice on diving Tipuata.."Sometime maybe a tiger shark come and take a tour of you, dont worry, he just want to show you he is not scared" and mimicked a tigershark circling a diver. He was a really lovely person who loved his island. Message to the french, the polynesians are onto it, they know their land is paradise, it wont be yours forever. After speaking with Rocky, Robyn, Taaroa I learnt there was a
Bloody Marys Roll Call
I expect my name to be up there next week.
lot of political knowledge amongst polynesians. They know the European financial situation is not good and are getting worried and have a seperatist prime minister. Taaroa and I talked til the sun was setting and stood in the water with eagle rays playing around our feet which Taaroa shyly explained as "One lady in front and 7 men like to maybe date with her"...yep, lots of bonking on bora bora. I bid Taaroa goodnight and walked back to the hotel feeling like the most pure and free being on earth. And I felt really amazing.
I didnt even get back to my bungalow without meeting Nicolas, the head chef at another resort..french, charming, had every line down...astrology to fashion..someone recognised my bikini i had paid stupid amounts for as Victorias Secret!. He asked if he could have drinks with me after my dive the next day and for some reason I agreed. Mainly because I had no reason not to agree. Why not?.
Next day was a very lemon sharky dive, but a really annoying dive because I travel with my own gear the tankstrap was not done up properly and I ended up
having my tank on my hip,not a good way to enjoy the lemonsharks and reefies swimming around. I did manage to laugh at a little yellow spotted boxfish being followed 10cm behind by a 3m lemon shark frantically finning to keep out of a rather large mouth. Id tried to let the supposed divemaster know and his answer was to take my weightbelt off me.....thanks dickhead. WRONG problem. Diving without any weight at all is not something I particularly like doing, I dont know why, its probably a psychological thing from all that training about dumping your weights if you need to. The viz was good, the water was warm, their were sharks and fish and a few small rays..and that was about the best thing about the first dive. The second dive after i had gotten the boat guy to totally restrap my bcd and triple checked it myself (lesson learned) was pretty much the same except this time there was a manta ray and a turtle. Nice enough. The coral is all dead thanks to a cyclone a few years ago so I couldnt call bora bora a dive destination.
I got dropped back off feeling ok,
ive had a dive and found Nicolas waiting in the lobby with a bottle of champagne, some flowers and a pareo...smooth. Im just going to say I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying his company.
The next day I went for a walk down to see Robyn and Ben and had breakfast of pickled mangos and fantastic conversation. I headed off stuffed full of mangos and was taking a short breather under a grove of trees when a perfectly ripe beautiful unblemished mango dropped off a tree. For once, I managed to catch something. How awesome is this place? everyone is smiling, everyone is relaxed, its sublimely gorgeous to look at and the gods give you fruit if you stop and smell the flowers.
I popped my mango in my bag, walked along past the big pearl gallery and to the famous Bloody Marys. This restaurant has been open since 1979. The boards out the front give a roll call of celebrities who have eaten at Bloody Marys. If its good enough for Johnny Depp, its good enough for me. Buzz Aldrin went there too, after the moon where do you go? Bloody
Marys of course.
Its kitchz, its cute, its like a movie set. The seats are carved coconut stumps, the floor is pure white sand, the seafood is laid out on big bars at night and you pick your own fish and the toilet washbasin is a waterfall you need to pull a pirate style chain to make work. I sat there for a couple of hours drinking bloody marys, eating tuna carpaccio and people watching. Of course I was the only person alone, which didnt make me feel sad at all, it made me feel brave. And grown up.
Theres a Missy Higgins song called Steer. Its about being in control of your life. Knowing where you want to go so you can steer. Theres a line in there that makes me think of Bora Bora...hold this moment like a newborn...
It really is like living in a postcard.
There are more photos below