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Published: September 30th 2017
The Usual Suspects ...
... apparently, size does matter! The longer the vanilla bean, the higher cost per weight is charged.
Geo: -16.6303, -151.49
There are two main reasons to visit the little island of Taha'a - for its vanilla farms, and to eat its famous coconut crabs, considered to be a delicacy by locals. But while we had no trouble finding a vanilla farm to tour, we had no such luck with the coconut crabs - it turns out that they are found in the Tuamotus, a group of islands and atolls that are a helluva lot farther away from Raiatea than the short boat ride we took this morning! Taha'a ... Tuamotus ... they sound similar enough, right?
The visit to the vanilla farm was definitely the highlight of today - it's always interesting to see the places where foods you normally take for granted are produced. It seems that only in recent years has vanilla even been given a form, now that usage of the actual pods in cooking has increased significantly - it's no longer just a bottle of dark liquid that you dump into your bowl of banana bread batter; it's become something far more gourmet in culinary circles.
Vanilla pods are incredibly expensive, and the reason behind that quickly becomes obvious when you witness firsthand the amount
of time and effort that goes into its production. Waiting six months for it to mature on the vine before hand picking, then the subsequent steps of killing, sweating, drying, and conditioning the pods ... it's no wonder the stuff is so bloody expensive, especially when all of these steps are done in a place with such a high cost of living!
Beyond the vanilla tour, our excursion to Taha'a seemed to drag on way too long - while great value, being by far the longest of any of our lagoon excursions, I think we reached our limit for snorkeling today. There were several stops that seemed to go on and on, with the last few dips we took becoming increasingly more like chores than anything enjoyable. The last one was through a very shallow coral garden with fairly strong currents, so we spent most of our time dodging coral formations, and getting fairly scraped up in the process, since we couldn't simply just float over top of them.
If there was ever too much of a good thing, it was today, and we felt particularly bad for Jean Jacques and his son, who had probably waited over an hour at
the port for our return from the Neverending Lagoon Excursion. After such a long day of snorkeling, we couldn't wait to get back to our little bungalow for some wine, some more fine dining, for our last sunset in Raiatea, and most importantly, to do anything else but more snorkeling!
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