Chapter 2: I dive with whales.

Trip Start Oct 01, 2003
Trip End Nov 2004

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Thursday, October 9, 2003

I left Bora Bora Sunday morning (5 Oct) and returned to Papeete the same way I came. Air Tahiti is a cute little airline, by the way. Took "Le Truck" into the center of town... Le Truck is the public transport system in the islands, and it consists of a few benches in the back of, well, a truck. Cheap & fun. (an aside: grrrr, the French keyboards here are driving me insane!)

Downtown Papeete was a ghost town; I forgot that many parts of the world haven't either succumbed to the greed or discovered the convenience of keeping things open 7 days a week. I ambled around for an hour or so looking for the Ono Ono ferry, which supposedly would drop me off near my pension on Mo'orea. Turns out it recently stopped running. Ah well, Plan B entailed sitting around for a few hours to catch one of the other ferries. No prob. Got to Mo'orea, and took Le Truck to Pension Motu Iti which sits between the scenic Cooks & Opunohu Bays.

Pension Motu Iti (named after the 2 cats on the premises) was incredible! Must be the best value in French Polynesia at $17/night in a clean, brand new dorm. The owner, Auguste, is very friendly and always smiling, and the grounds are gorgeous. I spent most of Monday lying around in a beach chair on the dock that sits over the lagoon (filled with beautiful fish, by the way), snorkelled a bit, and then took one of the sea kayaks out for a ride. Finally - a day of pure sunny relaxation in the South Seas! It was perfect. Met a super-nice couple from Colorado (I assume they were a couple?) named Sarah & Tim who had been staying at the Pension in one of the bungalows for a week. They gave me lots of tips on Mo'orea, and I told them about Bora Bora, where they were headed next. As a parting gift they gave me a huge bag full of snacks that they'd brought but didn't need - peanut butter crackers, granola bars, trail mix, and candy, so I've largely been living off all that for the past few days. Thanks guys!

Tuesday I rented a bike and took a spin around the entire island - 60km total, so I got quite a workout. It looks like I'll be cursed with obviously gay bikes on this journey, as while it was a step up from "Super Rider," "Wheelman!" was unfortunately bright fuschia. At least it had 18 speeds, full tires, and a crossbar, and it might have even been from the 1980s!

Wednesday I went on my first dive since July (hi Rick!), and it was a mind-blowing experience. At 10am 6 of us (4 divers, a guide, and a driver) set out from Topdive in search of some humpback whales that they'd seen outside the reef earlier that morning. We found 2 of them and watched them do their cute whale things (flipping tails, blowing air, etc.) until they disappeared. The guide lowered a rope, and we immediately followed it down 20 meters or so to begin a drift dive along the reef. After some initial trouble equalizing (ear pressure) on the descent, everything was smooth. The visibility was insane, the coral was vibrant, and the fish were outstanding! It only got better, though, as over the next half hour we ran into numerous black-tipped reef sharks, some barracuda, and a sea turtle! The biggest treat was when the whales came back... we looked up to our right and three of them glided by only 20-30 meters away! It was awe-inspiring. Can't wait to go on my next dive, either in the Cooks or Fiji. I just hope I haven't been spoiled!

I love Mo'orea, and I'm very sad to leave. It seems much more balanced than Bora Bora, and it's just as beautiful, but with fewer dogs and roosters, and somewhat saner prices. Definitely would come back - it's paradise. Now I'm off to Tahiti for 3 days, and then it's on to the Cooks! Talk to you soon,

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