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Published: February 4th 2010
James Michener's Favorite Island
ADVENTURES IN PARADISE
We arrived in Tahiti earlier than schedule which was fortunate because on Saturday everything shuts down around noon. The wharf is right in the heart of downtown which makes it very convenient for exploring this trading town. We always like to go to the Marché de Papeete—the community market—to pick up a bouquet of gorgeous tropical flowers or buy a new pareo—the colorful Tahitian version of a sarong. Along with Tahitian handicrafts, the market has fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs—it’s an all-in-one shopping stop. On the way we passed a group of Tahitian men assembled on a sidewalk, each with a musical instrument, having an islander style hootenanny. One inventive musician was using a plastic water bottle filled with small rocks, giving the music a distinctive beat. We went to their version of Macy’s, Tahiti Pas Cher, to pick up a few pieces of “china” to add to our collection. At home, on our boat, we have wooden dishes which are made in Asia but used everywhere in the Pacific Islands. I have dinner plates, salad bowls, soup bowls and serving trays in a pattern of pressed wood which actually matches our parquet floors. These work really well
For Islanders day use
on a boat and are quite durable plus they always remind me of the islands when we use them.
Kevin went on a snorkeling trip while I nursed a sore back. The boat took the dive group past the Faaa International Airport in the Tahiti Lagoon to a small reef. Kevin was inspecting the wreckage of a small aircraft when he came face to face with a large moray eel. Adios Moray!
In between rain showers the ship put on its dinner under the stars event—always one of our favorite nights of the cruise. There is music and dancing and dining around the pool while enjoying the warm tropical breezes of a Tahitian night.
We cruised over to Moorea early the next morning. Since the sun rises about 5:30am, we were able to sit on our balcony and enjoy the “moving picture show” on the 12 mile run to Cooks Bay. While eating at the ship’s outside restaurant that morning we were thinking that this is probably the most beautiful setting for breakfast we have ever had. Soon after, it was difficult to see much of the island since it started raining buckets. While waiting for the
showers to abate we got to see some of the NFL football playoffs and catch up on paperwork.
Our day in Bora Bora was one of our best ever in Polynesia. We went on a shark and sting ray snorkeling trip on a small boat. The weather was absolutely perfect, the crystal clear water was the same temperature as the air (83˚) and the sea life was abundant. We fed the extremely friendly rays and kept a wary eye on the large black tip and lemon sharks that were circling around us. There were hundreds of small, brilliantly colored fish joining in the fray. Our guide took us outside the reef for more mingling with sea creatures and then we went to his uncle’s private island (motu) for some fresh pineapple and coconut. On a sunny day, the water colors are so dazzling that it takes your breath away.
After all that swimming we were hungry so we went in search of a Chinese restaurant. The prices for everything in Polynesia are sky high and food is especially pricey. We have noticed that almost anywhere in the world it is usually possible to get reasonably priced and tasty
Chinese cuisine. We found the La Panda d’Or restaurant hidden away in a building that looked like a hospital. But unlike many hospitals, the food was quite good. On the walk back to the port we stopped in a few of the stores. All of them were still adorned with Christmas decorations and had the most eclectic assortment of goods for sale. One store had probably 50 witches’ hats, while a building supply shop had dozens of fresh baguettes and the ubiquitous tins of Spam and Beanie Weenies next to wrenches and nails. I guess each store takes whatever comes in the shipping container and tries to sell it—although I don’t know how often Halloween rolls around in Tahiti.
We sailed out of the Bora Bora lagoon at sunset onto a mirror smooth ocean. It was so calm that the puffy white clouds reflected picture perfect on the flat sea. We are always sad to leave French Polynesia. For us water lovers, this is truly paradise.
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