‘We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us’ – Anon
After 7 days and 15 attempts we finally won trivia. The team was on fire. It’s a good job that nobody listened to me when I said that Antarctica was the only country without an active volcano and that you only need 100,000 record sales for a platinum disc. We put Australia and 1 million respectively. There was also a religious question. ‘Who was Moses wife’. Straight away Anthony and Irene, our Canadian team members wrote ‘Zipporah’ I thought that was some brand of electronic cigarette lighter!! Bill and I had said simultaneously the default biblical name ‘Sarah’. We were thankfully overruled. With our astute teamwork we had forced a six-way tie break: ‘How many squares on a scrabble board. Roisin and Irene, expert Scrabblers, straight away said 15 x 15. Anthony a retired Maths and Science teacher wrote 225. Spot on. We were now down to two teams for a second tie break. ‘How many humans boarded Noah’s Ark?’ Immediately Irene whispered ‘eight’. I quickly scribbled out the number nine
I had just written and fully concurred with Irene’s answer!! The other team had put seven. I had a bad day as the team won that without my input but, like Liverpool FC when Mo Salah has a bad day, we have Mané and Firmino to pick up the slack!! Thanks to the Trivial Pursuit – Biblical edition that Irene and Anthony own!!! We could have won outright if we hadn’t changed the type of leaf on the UN flag from Olive to Laurel!! (not my doing!!)
There was a little bit of excitement in the cocktail piano bar this evening when the piano player walked off stage. It remains unclear as to why this happened although one reliable source informed me that the patrons were talking too loudly and he couldn’t hear himself play!!! Other reports said that singing quartet ‘the Leading Men’ were having a drink in the bar and spontaneously broke in to song. The customers seemed to show them more interest.
Another day at sea, then six days of intense island hopping. All under the flag of French Polynesia
Our first port, a tender port of course, was Vaitape, the principle settlement of
Bora Bora. So picturesque, they named it twice. The island forms part of the Leeward side of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. It is surrounded by sand-fringed islets known as motus and a turquoise lagoon protected by yet another coral reef. After breakfast Roisin was once again carefully checking out the path of the tender as it slowly moved towards land. This time there was no excuse. The tender remained upright with no evidence of rocking in what could only be described as a millpond; not even ripplets. The tender ride was even shorter than the Cook Islands at just over five minutes and our ride was as smooth as the proverbial billiard ball. A parade of wooden huts selling the usual array of souvenirs greeted us. Passing these we arrived at a large gravelled area with a few four wheel drive vehicles, a couple of windowless buses known in these parts as ‘le truck’ and several open back jeeps. It was one of these that caught our attention.
‘Taxi?’ we were asked by a rather rotund middle-aged lady in heavily accented English. ‘Bloody Mary’s and beach’,
she continued before we had time to reply.
‘How much?’ I asked
‘$5 each person,’ she replied pointing to the sign in the wind screen that confirmed her answer!
!!’ I thought. The price hadn’t changed one cent since September 2010, almost nine years ago. Talk about the land that inflation forgot…!!!
I offered her a crisp $10 note: ‘Pay later, pay later’,
she said in an abrupt manner waving away the offer. She then moved towards a few more tourists who had appeared from the direction of the ship. We clambered on to the rear of the open back jeep and waited a few minutes before two other couples joined us.
The coast road was surprisingly well maintained and the breeze created was welcome relief from the humid 80°F heat. Bloody Mary’s, a mile and a half south along the main road was the first stop. Although it wasn’t!! We waved to some of the bar’s patrons as we sped past this world famous and exclusive (albeit very touristy) bar!! Another mile and a half and we pulled up alongside a beach; a beach we had been to on our last visit to the island. This was Matira beach
and once again did not disappoint. It was exactly as we had left it almost nine years ago; a golden strip of sand that looked out over a crystal clear, turquoise and relatively shallow lagoon that stretched about a mile out to the reef. The lagoon was six feet at its deepest. The beach was busy (but not overcrowded) with both personnel from the ship and guests staying at the adjacent hotel. A small twin hulled sailing boat with a main mast at least three times tall than the boat bobbed a few feet from the shore. Its owner, waist high in the inviting water, was checking the boat over, seemingly waiting for his next reef bound charter.
Have I told you we’d been to this once in a lifetime, idyllic hideaway of an island once before?? Other than beaches, bars and $5000 per day hotels there wasn’t a lot to see unless it included trekking or strenuous hiking in to the bug infested interior that Bora Bora had to offer. The major past time in these parts are water sports; snorkelling and scuba diving are very popular as is paddle boarding. Roisin and my extent of water sports
stretched to paddle boarding but without the board!! In order words paddling. Whilst jet skis, banana boats and paragliding are never seen in these parts, paddling is a past time that can be enjoyed whether you’re vacationing in Blackpool, Benidorm or Bora Bora!!
As we left the beach who should be pulling up in her open back jeep but the same lady that brought us here.
‘You want back to ship?’
, I replied. ‘Bloody Mary’s’
she said holding out her hand. ‘We paid you on the way down here’,
I argued ‘No, five dollar’,
she repeated. ‘The sign in your window says the beach AND Bloody Mary’s. We paid you five dollars but have only been to the beach’
Like a stuck record, probably not having understood a word I’d just said, once more repeated, ‘five dollar’
, then added as she pointed to both of us in turn, ‘each
‘I don’t have many dollars left,
’ I pleaded. ‘I can give you five dollars between us’,
thrusting a five dollar bill in to her hand.’
I must have worn her down as she learned over to
us and whispered, ‘OK! But don’t tell others. I take you Bloody Mary’s!!’
Ten minutes later we were standing outside Bloody Mary’s, the world-famous restaurant and bar that has seen hundreds of celebrities frequent these premises (but probably not all at the same time!!). Indeed, there were several large plaques either side of the main entrance, their ‘wall of fame’
, to remind us of this fact. ‘C’mon in, you never know who you may bump in to!!’
It was quite dark inside so bumping in to people wasn’t a problem. Bloody Mary’s had been built to give an authentic Polynesian aesthetic with its thatched roof, open sides, sand covered floor and wooden slab tables together with coconut stump stools. Across the bay from Bloody Mary’s, it was impossible to overlook the imposing peak of Mt Otemanu which is visible for all parts of Bora Bora. This ruggedly beautiful peak is 2,385 feet (727 metres) tall and forms the centre piece to the island.
We left Bloody Mary’s at exactly the same time as ‘guess who?’ was pulling up outside in her open back jeep! She must be related to the shop keeper in 70’s children’s animation series ‘Mr
Benn’ because she keeps appearing ‘as if by magic’
. As we were half way between Matira beach and the ship, I managed to wangle another 2 for 1 deal!!
The only thing of note that happened this evening is that we won trivia again. My Brain is starting to finally ‘kick in’ to gear!! It wasn’t easy though as it was another five way tie break. ‘How many sonnets did William Shakespeare write?’ I like questions that I’ve heard before. That’s what makes you sound like a smart arse!! Unfortunately, I only like these questions if I can remember the answer!! I knew it was a lot so I plumped for 121 much to the dismay of the rest of our team. However, I didn’t let anyone talk me out of it. Two teams put under thirty which I knew was too low and two teams declared their answers as over three hundred which I knew was way too high. The correct answer was one hundred and fifty-six. Tonight, the prize was a WINNER’S medal. It had the Holland America logo (an outline of the bow of a ship) with a very small ‘5k’ stamped on the bow. Not
too sure where Clif had nicked these from but all prizes gratefully received. We can now put this latest WINNER’S medal with the WINNER’S medals from Princess and Royal Caribbean!! As they say, the cream always rises to the top! We are once again the team to beat but if cream is left gloating
too long, it will quickly turn sour!!
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