so many islands, so many questions

I like to indulge in a little Tahitian research while on my breaks at work. While browsing the interwebs today (by using GoodSearch for Theatre of NOTE!) I’m feeling overwhelmed by many things. First, the abundance of islands, atolls, lagoons, and archipelagos (what even IS an archipelago?) that make up French Polynesia. Look at the first sentence of the Wikipedia entry for Tahiti and you’ll quickly understand my fluster.

“Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean.”

That’s a whole mess of groups and sub-groups. I clearly have a lot of research to do in order to get a handle on this whole Tahiti thing. See my problem is this; I’m the type of person who has to weigh every single option before I make a decision. It’s a curse. I cannot pick an ice cream flavor until I’ve carefully considered every single flavor available in the store. If I ever get married, I will be the god-awful bride that has to try on a thousand dresses before she can make a purchase. I’m just always worried that the next option I see will be better than the last. I mean how do you know it won’t be? How do you know??! I’ve never been good at that whole leap of faith thing. I realize how neurotic this is and I do actively try to engage my gut instinct and follow it blindly. That tactic has been successful at times, but I often revert back to my indecisive self. Which is why I now feel like I’m going to have to do extensive research on over 130 tropical islands before I can make travel plans.

130 islands! Yes, we’re going to running to Tahiti as our primary stop, but we want to venture to at least one other island. Out of 130, holy atoll batman, how do we decide???

More on the islands later, but if you are one of the lucky people in the world who has actually been to French Polynesia, can you help a beleaguered traveler out and send me some personal recommendations? These are the major questions on the table:

  1. Which islands are best for diving/snorkeling?
  2. How much time does one REALLY need in French Polynesia? In my dreams I’m hoping for a 2-week vacation but we’d have to bump the savings up to $2 per mile to make that happen. Will we be satisfied with 1 week?
  3. Should we stay on an overwater bungalow or are they really bad for the local flora and fauna?
  4. Which island should we visit besides Tahiti?
  5. How much spending money do we need daily?
  6. Should we use a travel agent? Even asking that question is antiquated in this day and age, but I’m seriously overwhelmed and might just need someone to hold my hand when I press the Purchase Tickets button
  7. Which island is the least populated, yet still accessible to clueless American tourists?
  8. Where can I find a zip-line in French Polynesia. I want to zip-line!

Whew! So many questions, but that is a good start. I’m glad I’ve got two years to plan this vacation. Yes yes, I know there are plenty of websites and travel books out there that I could read, and I will, but honestly there is nothing in the world like a personal referral. So if you have any advice, please do send it my way by leaving a comment on this post. I would love to hear your juicy Tahiti stories!

In lighter news, this is where we’re going. So purdy. Now if only I knew exactly which island this was:

Tahiti hut

only 4,109 miles to go

The island of Tahiti is 4,109 miles from Los Angeles. Brad Light and I are going to run there. Intrigued? Good.

The concept is simple. It all springs from a seedling of an idea I had when training for the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon in Petaluma last summer. I felt so inspired and enlightened to experience the NorCal countryside not from the windows of my car, but with my two legs and a pair of sneakers, that I thought about starting another running blog wherein I would focus on running vis a vis traveling. I shortly realized, I’m dirt poor. What am I thinking? I don’t have money to travel. The best I could do would be to write about the exotic trails I discover on my voyage to Griffith Park. Not that exciting. But gosh darnit, I WANT to travel! Something I want more than anything in the world is to SEE the world. Yes I want to visit Greece, Turkey, China, Australia, Africa, South America, Antarctica, Iceland and on and on. The likelihood of traveling to all of these places and still being young enough to go for a jog when I get there, let alone write about it, unlikely.

Let me just move a few words around and that should solve the problem. If I can’t travel to all of the remote corners of the world and write about running when I get there, I’ll run to at least one remote corner of the world and write about getting there. So much more interesting to write about the journey anyway, don’t ya think?

So now the big question, when considering all remote corners of the globe, where do you go? Choose wisely, said the old knight to Indiana Jones. Indeed. Using our affinity for tropical locales as a means of narrowing the list, first we think Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go there. I enjoy exotic flowers and sea turtles. I don’t know though, it seems a bit too conventional. Someone says tropical vacation and most people think Hawaii. Well, if I’m going to literally run by butt off I want to run to a place that most people never get to see; and besides, Brad has already been to Hawaii. Dream bigger Rebecca. Don’t you want to sleep in some straw hut on the crystalline waters of the far south Pacific, dive with sharks, and finally get someone to explain to you the difference between an atoll and a small island? Yes I do! Suddenly it occurs to me, like a lightning bolt, Tahiti. Who wouldn’t want to visit a place painted and immortalized by Gaugin? Plus it has such a nice ring to it. “Running to Tahiti” sounds so much more luscious than “Running to Maui.” That sounds like a bad Steven Seagal movie.

Destination secured, now how do we make this interesting?Immediately Brad has the brilliant idea to figure out exactly how many miles there are between Los Angeles and Tahiti and to run exactly that many miles, after which we get to go there. Talk about a payoff. If we want to make it in two years, here’s the math: 4,109 miles works out to about 2,055 miles a year. About 40 miles a week. What?? Ain’t no way I’m running 40 miles a week. Oh no! Dream crusher! *Sigh* Why does Tahiti have to be so far away? This means one of two things. Either we make a 4 year plan, which puts us in Tahiti sometime in 2015, or we combine our mileage. I’m not waiting until 2015 to get to Tahiti. The world could end by then. Morbid, I know, but hey that’s how my mind works. Combined mileage it is. 4,109 miles, 2055 miles a year, 40 miles week, divided by the two of us means 20 miles a week per person. So it’s more like a relay race to Tahiti. We’ll each run our portion to get there. At the end of two years, Brad Light and I will have run 4,109 miles combined, and will be sipping Mai-Tais on the beach to celebrate. Oh golly, I can hardly wait.

But wait, put on the brakes, another road block. Vacation in Tahiti? That’s not like going to Catalina. The road to Tahiti is paved with large dollar signs and again, me dirt poor. I shortly come up with a brilliant solution to all of our problems that will not only pave the way to riches, but will make the journey even more interesting and further motivate us to put on our sneaks everyday. We can make it a savings plan as well as a running schedule! Not only will we run the mileage per week to get there, but we’ll put a dollar amount to each mile so at the end of two years, we’ll have saved enough to make it happen. For every mile we run, we put $1 in a savings account. If we don’t run it, we don’t save it. Gotta run to save money, gotta have money to get to Tahiti. I figure $1 per mile should do the trick. $4,109 for a two person trip to Tahiti should be just about right. It’s like it was meant to be.

This has been a brief intro into what is sure to be a bonified adventure. Brad and I have to do 3-mile runs 5 days a week, plus a 5 miler on the weekend, for the next 2 years, in order to get to Tahiti. Wow. Good thing I enjoy it.

As if you thought this plan couldn’t possibly have any more synergy, after running 20 miles a week for the next two years, I’m going to look damn good in a bikini.