Pet a Shark, Hold an Urchin, and Drink from a Coconut

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Oceania » French Polynesia » Tahaa
November 22nd 2011
Published: November 29th 2011
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Dinner last night was a ton of fun. Ralph is very outgoing, and as I mentioned in my last post I had shared some of my vodka with him, him and his wife switched to wine with dinner. The whole combination lended itself to a very fun evening. The pasta was excellent, conversation went to Italy for much of the evening. Discussing pastas and other exports, I shared my story of how I make my own Limoncello, the Italians were impressed with this; Nutella has been talked about every morning I think, and it came up again. The stuff is amazing, an another export of Italy. Wen had taken the dingy to the island and evidently tied one on with some of his boys, (when I woke up this morning there was a plastic beer cup in the boat). Hinano came out and ate dessert with us, a chocolate cake with a melty center covered diced apples. The radio was playing and there are a few songs in English that play here and conversation shifted to music when “The Bongo Song” came on, not the full song but one of those intro ten second little teasers. Ralph jumped up to turn it up only to find out that the song would not be playing in its entirety. So we spent the next 30 minutes listening to Ralph talk about the song. In a German accent “Five minutes of absolute power!” He told me this could be my next challenge, have it piping through the boat in the morning to wake everyone up so they could also watch sunrise. “Boom, boom, boom… you know? Very powerful. Five minutes of straight dancing very hard, you will be dripping sweat.” The whole thing reminded me of my friend Artie. After putting up with being told to download the song at least twenty times Hinano put on some music that was from some German guy with a strong beat. Ralph was pacified, and Stephane started dancing and turned on the strobe light on his iPhone. Hinano got out a flashlight and moved it around while switching the cabin light on and off. We had our own little discotheque.

After everyone had gone to bed I decided to grab my tripod and hop up on the deck and try to capture what a million stars shining in the middle of a moonless night in French Polynesia looks like away from the lights of any city. There was no way I was going to do it justice, especially with the boat swaying slowly in the calm water. The light from my camera must have been noticed by Hinano as she came and joined me for a bit. Her English is better than my French, between the two of us we can get across any thought that we have. She is sweet and always offers to put sunscreen on my back, the worst part of traveling solo by the way. Once I realized that despite my best efforts this was not going to happen I headed off to bed around midnight.

I never close my blinds because I do not want to miss a sunrise. The early morning light peeks through, wakes me up, I grab my camera a pair of shorts and my glasses, open the hatch to my room and climb out onto the deck of the 60’ catamaran to watch the sunrise from a little seat at the front of the yacht. Hinano is always the next to rise, typically followed by Stephane. No one has been up to

Hinano decided to take my picture as I napped in the cabin
watch the sunrise with me yet, Ralph told me he was going to the night before. After seeing his state at the end of the night I knew that was not so. By seven breakfast was set out and we all sat down to eat. By eight Hinano had taken everything from the table and we set out through the pass and back towards Raiatea to Tahaa. Tahaa is known as the vanilla island as 75% of the 25 tons annually are produced here, this is less than 1% of all vanilla produced in the world. We dropped anchor near the motu looking through the “Window to Bora Bora.” Lunch was comprised of raw fish again, still not my favorite, but I am learning to eat it. Once lunch had settled we hopped in the dingy and pushed off for a swift current pass that is the closest thing to a life sized aquarium that I have ever seen. All you have to do is walk into the current and you are swept away, floating while watching the coral and fish pass by. There was a giant green moray that called the place home, it decided to pay our group a little visit and it swam from cover and out and around the group. This thing is easily five feet long. Now I know enough to know that these things are a fairly aggressive predator, but more nocturnal. I snapped a few photos with it staring back and decided it was time to float on. At the end of the channel there was an injured shark in captivity. After watching Wen climb in with it, and a bit of light petting of my own, I decided that I would do the same. A bit of a thrill. The rest of the group was content with staying on the outside, probably a better idea. After climbing out of the tank we found a few coconuts and spent some time bashing them against rocks to break out the nut. Nothing tastes as good as fresh coconut water after opening it against a rock and letting it pour into your mouth and down your face.

Wen let us know we had some free time to wonder around, relax, or just do our own thing. There was a little island that had a land bridge that allowed easy passage out to it. Most of the group walked over there, they were not that entertained with watching me smash coconut husks against rocks I guess. I laid down for a bit on a wooden chaise lounge after I did some wandering and before long it was back in the dingy and away to the Mata Fenua. Where I have since showered, put a few things in order, and am smelling dinner being made while I enjoy an aperitif.

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