Tag Archive | snorkeling

There Are Words For Paradise

We ran to Tahiti. After four years, nine months, and 1 day of dreaming, running, and planning, we are in Tahiti. We ran 4,109 miles to Tahiti and now we are here. Friends, family, and perfect strangers have cheered us on. And we are here.

I very much dislike the phrase “there are no words…” I’m guilty of using it, and at the very least feeling tempted to use it, especially on significant occasions. My wedding day. Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. Running to Tahiti. To feel so much all at once, each sense stimulated, oh how VERY tempting to sit back in that cornucopia of wonder and proclaim “There are no words!”

There are words. There are always wonderful words. Just as there exists a perfect combination of pigment to capture every color of the rainbow, there exists a perfect combination of words to describe every human experience under the sun. There are words. There are always words. What is undeniably difficult is putting them together in the right order – mixing the pigment. In moments such as this, having just returned from a day of snorkeling with dozens of blacktip sharks and kissing sting rays in a crystalline blue lagoon, the right words elude me. Having escaped to picnic on a tiny motu encircled by a seemingly infinite spread of coral reef, and having watched a Polynesian man named Siki teach my husband to open a coconut with his bare hands and a stick, and meet a real life Nemo in a mustard yellow anemone, and kiss a tiki God left stranded on the beach, and learnt to make ceviche from scratch, and stared in disbelief at the electric shade of turquoise that water can be, and did I mention the swimming with sharks? The words are tricky.

Words transported me here. In every story about a far off land. In every tale about a found paradise. Words are our first wings. We read and our minds travel where our eyes can’t yet go. One day we decide to seek the worlds our minds have created. We go in search of Hemingway’s Paris, and Dickens’ London, and Fitzgerald’s New York. We seek Tahiti – the island to which our imagination is already well acquainted. And when we do, we remember that words took us there first.

There are always words. Find the right ones in the right combination and take us where you are. We all want to go. Since I am currently in a magical land, I’ll go first.

I write this from the balcony of the oldest hotel in Moorea. It’s called Club Bali Hai and the lobby looks like a real life Enchanted Tiki Room. Each time I all but hear the name “Club Bali Hai” I sing the mysterious ballad from South Pacific. I bet you are now too. Since this is Moorea’s oldest hotel we are certain it’s haunted. The sun is set and there are only two lights I see in Tahiti. Brad and I of course, but mostly a mysterious pair across Cook’s bay, blinking on and off as if transmitting a code across the sea. I think about Gatsby, and the green light. These aren’t green, they are white, but just as mysterious. Why are those lights blinking? Who lives there? Do they know their lights are communicating? Below us, stray but friendly cats and dogs stroll across the lawn as if on a promenade. There are so many stray cats here, they ease the missing of my own two fur babies back home. How sad Sharky and Mr. Wizard can’t go on adventures. I’m certain they would rather be Polynesian cats chasing crabs. Crabs the size of mangoes that try to hide their presence creeping from hole to hole, which they’ve burrowed so desperately in the ground. How reluctantly these curmudgeonly crabs traverse where sky meets land. They so clearly prefer the under. Under the soil, under the sea. Why must they come up at all if perhaps only to show us that they exist? When the sun sets in Tahiti every other soul disappears. I swear Brad and I are the only humans on this island. All is quiet except the buzz of bugs, the click of crabs, and the gentle flutter of a man-made waterfall in a nearby swimming pool. The ocean is silent. The sun sets and each set of people obviously transports to an alternate dimension where they are the only inhabitants in their world, sitting on balconies in haunted hotels in the middles of the world’s largest oceans – waiting for the sun to rise, and the chance to collide with other sets of peoples in one shared paradise. Tomorrow a rooster will crow at approximately 6:30 am. Tomorrow we will dive below, and see what words can be said about Moorea under the sea.

I’m no master wordsmith but I believe such masters exist. Perhaps for me, and for you my readers, perhaps there are no words I can adequately assemble to paint you the picture of this paradise. I will keep trying, but until then… some terribly inadequate visuals to accompany my inadequate words. I finish today thinking of one word in particular. Gift. What a tremendous gift.

20151005_025541

20151005_025547

The welcoming committee.

20151006_092326

20151006_102507

20151006_082115

Drinking fresh pineapple juice across the bay from where they grow the pineapples.

20151006_095808

That water though.

20151006_100123

20151006_102834

Where the other half lives. Overwater bungalows at Intercontinental Resort.

20151006_112427

The motu (tiny island) where we had a Polynesian picnic.

20151006_115321

Tevas on the reef look a lot like coral. As I discovered two minutes later when a fish bit my foot.

20151006_115407

Snorkeling on the motu after lunch.

20151006_115502

Our delightful little Polynesian picnic hut. I seriously can’t stop thinking of Adventureland. Disney did a good job. All those real life adventures paid off. (Disney nerd alert!)

20151006_121459

Lessons from our guide Siki on the many ways to wear a pareo.

20151006_122303

Cooking with Siki. A show. Today’s episode, fresh ceviche.

20151006_123620

Soooo many chickens and roosters on this island.

20151006_130125

An inviting magic tropical forest on tiny magic motu.

20151006_065008

My morning routine. Practice a little French, drink a little coffee, and gaze at a mountain I’d like to climb rising from the sea.

Becky stingray pic

That’s the face of pure and utter joy. Standing in a tropical lagoon, crystal clear as a swimming pool, as sting rays and reef sharks cruise all around us and swim up our shoulders to say hello. Sure, they’re probably looking for food. But I like to think this one really liked me for me.

More to come…

Advertisements

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