Tahiti and Moorea

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of French Polynesia  ,
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Day 52: This was a travel day, and after spending a few hours driving around exploring Auckland, we headed to the airport to board our plan for Tahiti. We had checked the weather report in the morning, and it had shown rain for every day we were to be there. Crap! Well, we were going anyway!

When we arrived in Pape'ete, we weren't disappointed. It was raining. The fun really started when we got to the hotel. Apparently, in French Polynesia, the burden is on you to prove you actually have a reservation rather than for them to keep track of it themselves. Hmmm. And we didn't have our confirmation number. Hmmm. And they were 115% booked. Hmmm? But they gave us a room for the night anyway. Too bad for the poor suckers with later flights than ours.

Day 53: We were initially supposed to stay two nights in Tahiti, but we decided to go to Mo'orea a day early. Since camping was obviously not an option due to the rain, we called ahead to confirm our reservation (we'd learned our lesson) and were lucky enough to get a room a day early. Mo'orea is an easy 30 minute ferry ride away, so there was plenty of time to catch Le Truck (the island bus) to Club Bali Hai. Club Bali Hai is a collection of cool little huts located in Cook's Bay, and we had a really cool view of Mt. Rotui across the bay. It rained that evening.

Day 54: If you're looking for a place to just go and chill out, Mo'orea is the place. Especially when it's raining. That's pretty much all we did this day. Played some cards. Got bit by mosquitos. Played some backgammon. Got bit by mosquitos. Drank a few beers. Got bit by mosquitos. Played some more cards. Watched the chickens. It rained pretty hard that evening.

Day 55: After spending the vast majority of an entire day in the hut, we were ready to do some exploring, rain or shine. After spending a minute or so talking with a very apathetic Avis lady, we crossed the road to get a car from one of the local places. While we were standing there waiting for our car...AAAAAAA (like a chorus of angels)...the sun came out! We spent a great day driving around the island. Literally, since there is only one road with a few offshoots. The mountains on the island are very impressive. The highest one is just over 3600 feet, and they are pretty much straight up. There was a road that went to Mt. Belvedere that has a very cool view of Mt. Rotui surrounded by Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay.

That evening we went to the BYOB Happy Hour with Muk. Muk is one of the guys who started Club Bali Hai about 45 years ago when he and two of his friends left their "boring" jobs in California and bought 400 acres sight-unseen in Mo'orea to be vanilla bean growers. Well, that didn't work out too well, so they decided to try their hand at being hoteliers. It must have worked out okay since they are still there. And man, that guy had some stories. At one point somebody asked him who owned all the chickens we had seen everywhere. He said that they were wild and basically put a $10 bounty out for the roosters right then and there. He said that on the night of a full moon they would crow all night until the sun came up. Luckily for us, the moon had been covered by clouds since we had been there.

Muk was full of very entertaining stories, but the most interesting story came from one of the other guests. There was a lady from Texas that had gotten stranded by the dive boat from their cruise ship scuba diving just a few days before in Bora Bora. There were 12 of them on a night dive, and when they came up there was no boat! They found a buoy to hang onto, and they were out there in the dark for an hour and a half in the ocean before they were found. The story was that the dive boat had broken down and drifted while they were diving. That would suck!

Day 56: We switched hotels that day to check out another part of the island. We met two guys from Maui on the beach, and they were lamenting about how this is what Hawaii used to be like. If you've ever wondered where people from Hawaii go for a vacation, French Polynesia is the place.

Nothing else too much eventful this day except for we had our first Mai Tai. Yummy. It cleared up pretty well, and we got to see a pretty cool island sunset from the hotel restaurant.

That night it was nearly a full moon, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The night sky was gorgeous! Apparently the roosters thought so, too. We woke up in the middle of the night to a chorus of French chickens going "Cock-a-deaux-deaux!" All night long. "Cock-a-deaux-deaux!" "Cock-a-deaux-deaux!" "Cock-a-deaux-deaux!" After awhile it started to sound a lot like "Shut the f*$% up!"

Day 57: We got to switch to a beachfront hut on our last day. The view was awesome! It was great to just be able to sit out on the front porch and see the ocean, with the waves breaking out on the reef and one of the small offshore islands in view. Spectacular!

We got a kayak and paddled out between two of the small islands inside the reef. The water was crystal clear, and you could easily make out the different colors of the corals and even some fish. Snorkeling there was pretty good, but watch the tide!

We met a nice young couple from the UK there, Neil and Julia, and had dinner with them that night. They were just finishing 18-month work assignments in Australia and had spent a month in New Zealand pretty much the same time we were there. They could have extended their assignment for longer, but they were afraid that they would never go back if they did.

Day 58: Nothing much happened this day, but for completeness we'll include it in the journal. We made our way back to Pape'ete for the red-eye to Portland via Los Angeles. Home after 58 days of traveling!
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