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Published: June 26th 2017
10751 miles after leaving Widnes, Chris and Roisin have arrived in the Society Islands that makes up part of French Polynesia.
Moorea is the first port of call. This small island is only 51 square miles and shaped like an isosceles triangle. There are two cut outs in one of its sides that form Cook's Bay – no, not named in honour of 'Masterchef'
but the other ‘ay! Ay! Cap'n' one. The other bay is Opunohu bay. The main fact about this bay is that it doesn't lend itself to any jokes and the only pun I can think of is actually in the name: Opunohu!!!
The population of Moorea is just under 14,500 and I've no idea what they do all day!! There doesn't appear to be many business opportunities on the island. The island's economy once based on copra, coffee and vanilla now thrives on the pineapple industry.
The Sapphire Princess
anchored off shore at just past 7am and a tender took the passengers to a small pier in Opunohu bay.
The public transport in Moorea is referred to as Le Truck.
There is no apparent fixed timetable or designated bus stops. Similar to the
Caribbean, when you want the bus to stop, you just shout, "Driver stop!" and pay the driver as you alight the bus. Due to a tight schedule and unreliability, Chris and Roisin decided to explore the island by hiring the more (in one sense) reliable, “Le ‘Buggy' Bugster” This is a 500cc 60's style dune buggy. They could have gone for the smaller 250cc version but as Chris observed, it would be like driving a lawn mower around the island! Chris and Roisin hired this for 2 hours and off they went.
It's difficult to get lost, as the coast road is butterfly shaped as well!! However, they did find it impossible to circumnavigate the island in the 2 hours it would take according to the hire company. They were advised to bring “Le Bugster” back with a full tank of fuel. This is normal practise when hiring a car anyway.
Roisin drove and Chris suggested to turn right and follow the coast road. However, what he didn't know at the time was the only open petrol station on a Sunday was in the opposite direction!!
They drove a steady 60kph for about 40 minutes passing dramatically
jagged mountains, through lush green canopies of trees, past turquoise lagoons and glistening white sandy beaches. One can immediately see why this idyllic island was chosen for the movie South Pacific.
Moorea is completely different from Maui in that it appears to be a greener and more fertile island. This is due to the above average rainfall they have. Chris and Roisin experienced this first hand during their Sunday jaunt in the buggy. This interesting phenomenon is that you know that rain, the fine stuff that wets you all the way through? The reason people say that is because Chris and Roisin have discovered another kind of fine rain that DOESN'T wet you all the way through. This is probably due to the heat or humidity on the island or something.
The temperature is mid 80s but there is still a stiff, albeit warm wind blowing when travelling at this speed. When Chris and Roisin eventually stopped to admire this tropical paradise they were completely dry. Windswept…but dry!
Due to trying to find a petrol station that was open on Sunday, Chris and Roisin returned to the hire company 10 minutes late. Nothing!! Roisin handed back the
keys and Chris settled the paperwork and off they went. This island seems to be poor on the outside but you get a genuine feel of hospitality from the locals who are genuine and not just trying to rip you off at every opportunity. So, they were 10 minutes late. A shrug of the shoulders. That's 30 minutes early in Polynesian time!!!!
The Sapphire Princess
weighed anchor and set sail east for the short journey of 23 nautical miles to the more famous of the French Polynesian Islands, Tahiti.
On catching the tender back to the ship. Roisin noticed that they were on the same one as some of the entertainers. The previous evening they had watched a showcase that contained a female vocalist, an impressionist, a comedian and an illusionist. Three of them were on the tender but the illusionist was missing. “Perhaps he's there but you just can't see him!!” Roisin suggested!
Back on board and life goes on…
Chris got talking to 2 Americans regarding the Internet on board, how much it costs and how it works. He then proceeded to explain the blog he was keeping. “Oh! A blog? What's that
about?” enquired one of the Americans. Chris then explained what his blog was about and the friends, family and colleagues who it was targeted for. “Ah! I see! I thought you were an author or someone famous. I was going to ask for your autograph!” she said.
Chris just smiled politely, thought many things but said nothing!
The ship docked in Tahiti at about 9pm although Chris and Roisin had no intention of going ashore that evening.
The 10pm show was a feast of Tahitian dancing called “Oh! Tahitie - Folkloric show”. As usual, Chris misread the name of the show and thought it was about the folklore that IS the potato called “Oh Tattie”!!!
The show was badged as music, costume, dancing and culture of an exiting part of the world. In reality it was a feast of scantily clad men and women, thrashing around a bit to the beat of drums and the twang, twang, twang of a ukulele.
After the show, Chris and Roisin were standing chatting near to a door that led on to the deck. As someone opened the door a gust of warm air shot in and
in a very loud voice they heard the immortal Wigan accent, “Eh lad! Shut tha' door. I've got no knickers on and tha' blowin' me dress up!!”
As Roisin turned around, she was facing someone from Hindley who she hadn't seen for almost 20 years. They chatted for 5 minutes and reminisced about mutual acquaintances before saying their adieus. “Another one to avoid for the rest of the trip”,
Chris thought as he made a mental note!!!
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