February 21, We Boarded our ship, the Paul Gauguin, as Tahitian ladies handed out flowers for our hair and sang tropical songs. The ship can accommodate 330 passengers and is more intimate than many of the mega ships. During our stay we snorkeled amongst the coral reefs and even got to swim with Stingrays and black tipped sharks. We went to the ship’s beach on Tahaa and I ended up teaching a Pilates class on the beach for our 4 friends and two Venezuelan women. Moorea was our favorite island with its beautiful jagged peaks. We, of course, had to contribute to the economy by buying the infamous black pearls. I took scuba lessons and discovered I really enjoy hanging out under water and hope to look into it further. We team up with 2 other couples, Gordon and Caroline and Linda and Dan
. It was a good mix and lots of fun. I even arranged with the Gauguin staff to do a nautical scavenger hunt for John’s 60th birthday. He loved the hunt and the prize was a tour of both the engine room and bride. We had a great cruise until the morning of dismemberment.
On the morning we were suppose to exit the ship (John’s 60th birthday) we were abruptly woken up at 4:30am and told to leave the ship immediately as a tsunami was headed our way! As we quickly gathered our things there was another knock and we were told to just stay on board. The steward explained that the ship was going out to sea for safety. We returned to port at 10 am thus missing our 8:20 am flight. The ship arranged for us to have a specially priced room at the Intercontinental for just $260 and told us they would be in contact with the hotel concerning our new reservations,
There were tons of people at the hotel and no one seemed to know what to do to handle all the people. We finally booked a room but were surprised when we were told we were flying out that night
. I took a taxi to the airport ($20 each way for 10 minutes!) at 10 pm to get the straight story from Air France since they were not answering their phones. Crazy and frustrating is the only way to describe it. They could not help me at the airport so I spent another $20 to return to the hotel and was told to return in the morning at 5:30 am. to book reservations for the next morning at 4:25 am. I practically begged and cried to get us a seat on the plane. Making any reservations at all was extremely difficult and the Air France people were not there to make it any easier.
Meanwhile back at the hotel, John was trying to book another day for our room and the hotel clerk said they were totally full. John nearly had all the veins sticking out of his neck but kept his cool enough to ask for the manager. Luckily she was more helpful and said no problem and re booked us in our old room at the same discounted rate. With our wake up call scheduled at 2:20 am we prayed we would be on our way.
Fefe, our taxi driver, got us to the airport in plenty of time and by 4:40 am we were taking off. I practically monopolized John’s lap as I tried to get some shut eye until the attendants came around with breakfast and of course they offered wine (this is Air France)! We hope to be on native soil soon where 2 lunches cost less than $70 and a martini is less than $18. French Polynesia is lovely but their efficiency and tourist economy stink. It will be nice to see Uncle Sam again as we head towards L.A
. and pledge our allegiance once more.
> John’s Take on the Tsunami Feb. 27
GOOD MORNING, CAN YOU SPELL “TSUNAMI” ? I KNOW THE Definition OF TSUNAMI
THAT WHICH CAUSES YOU TO MISS YOUR AIRLINE CONNECTION. BUT MORE ABOUT THAT LATER. LETS DISCUSS THE CYCLONE SITUATION WE AVOIDED BY CHANGING COURSE AND HEADED FOR OTHER ISLANDS WHILE ON THE CRUISE SHIP. THE CAPTAIN GETS ON THE P.A. SYSTEM AND GIVES US GOOD AND BAD NEWS. THE BAD WAS, THE CYCLONE IS DEVELOPING NICELY. THE GOOD WAS WE WERE GOING TO CHANGE OUR PORTS OF CALL. THIS BEING A RATHER SMALL SHIP OF ONLY 450 FEET AND 330 PASSENGERS, MIX IN THE CYCLONE AND YOU GET “RUFF” SEAS. THOSE ARE FUN. BEST OF ALL IS THE SPIN OFF SIDE SHOWS LIKE THE LADY BARFING HER GUTS OUT FROM THE TOP DECK. UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE CAPTAIN, HER LUNCH ENDED UP ON THE FLYING BRIDGE PLATFORM. HOLY COW, IT IS RAINING BURGERS AND FRIES THE CAPTAIN SAYS. ALL THIS GOING ON WHILE THE FRENCH FREAK’S GET YET ANOTHER AWARD
. THIS TIME THE 70 SOMETHING WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN GOING TOPLESS ALL HER LIFE WHILE SITTING AROUND THE POOL. NOW IF SHE WAS 24 YEARS YOUNG THERE WOULD BE A LOT OF PEOPLE LOOKING, BUT ODDLY ENOUGH THERE ARE STILL A LOT OF PEOPLE GAWKING. HER BOOBS HAVE FALLEN TO ABOUT THE LATITUDE OF HER BELLY BUTTON. NOT A PRETTY SIGHT. MAYBE THAT IS WHAT CAUSED THE OTHER WOMAN TO BLOW LUNCH ON THE CAPTAIN….? OR PERHAPS IT WAS HER FRENCHIE HUSBAND WHO, NOT TO BE OUT DONE BY HIS AGING WIFE, POURED HIS PACKAGE INTO A….YES, YOU GUESSED IT, A SPEEDO. AGAIN, NOT A PICTURE YOU WANT TO RETAIN IN YOUR BRAIN. SPEAKING OF CLOTHING, HERE IN THE TROPICS WOMAN, AND SOME INTERESTING MEN, FOLD WHAT LOOKS LIKE A PRINTED SHEET AROUND THEIR BODIES. FOR WHATEVER REASON A HELL OF A LOT OF FAT WOMAN ON BOARD DECIDED TO PURCHASE THESE SHEETS AND SHOW THEM OFF AROUND THE POOL. AS THEY STRUTTED THEIR STUFF IT REMINDED ME OF A MOBIL FLOWER SHOP ON STEROIDS MOVING ABOUT THE SHIP. DAMN, MAYBE THAT WAS WHAT MADE THE OTHER WOMAN “RALPH” ON THE CAPTAIN’S BRIDGE. I AM SURE IT WAS NOT THE FOOD, IT IS GREAT CHOW. I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE BECAUSE MY CLOTHS CONTINUE TO SHRINK. “PUTTING ON THE FEED BAG” IS MY NEW PAST TIME. OK, LETS GET BACK TO THE TSUNAMI. WE WERE IN PORT. WAITING TO DISEMBARK THE SHIP AT 5:30 AM TO CATCH OUT RIDE BACK TO THE U.S.A.. WE GET WHAT I THINK IS A WAKE UP CALL, I HANG UP. THREE MINUTES LATER THERE IS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR. COULD IT BE ROOM SERVICE ? NOPE, “ABANDON SHIP, A TSUNAMI IS COMING“. THEN THE CAPTAIN, WHO I ASSUME NOW HAS A FRESH UNIFORM ON COMES ON THE LOUD SPEAKER, “ LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, WE ARE LEAVING PORT AND HEADING FOR THE SEA TO RIDE OUT THE TSUNAMI”. OH GREAT, A 20 FOOT WALL OF WATER SENT TO US FROM CHILE. IT TURNED OUT TO BE ONLY 7 FOOT OF WATER, BUT BY NOW THE AIRPORT WAS CLOSED, OUR AIRCRAFT HEADED BACK TO THE U.S.A., EMPTY. AND I AM WONDERING WHERE WE WILL BE SLEEPING TONIGHT. THE CREW WANTED OUR SORRY BUTTS OFF THE SHIP BECAUSE THEY HAD TO GET IT READY FOR THE NEW PASSENGERS AT 3 PM. ONCE KICKED OVER BOARD WE GRABBED OUR LUGGAGE, FOUND A CAB AND HEADED FOR THE INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL. LOTS OF YELLING, SHOVING, CUSSING (THAT WAS ME CUSSING) AND WE SETTLED ON A ROOM FOR THE NIGHT. A BARGAIN AT $19,000 FRANCS ($260.00) MOST OF THE DAY WAS SPENT NOT GETTING OUT OF TAHITI AS WAS THE NIGHT, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE TOLD WE ARE ON A PLAN EITHER AT 11:35 PM OR 1:25 AM, NONE OF WHICH HAPPENED. THE CRUISE SHIP WAS NOW GONE, NO HELP THERE. OUR TAHITIAN TRAVEL AGENT TOLD ME, “YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.” THAT GAVE ME A REAL WARM FUZZY FEELING. OH, BUY THE WAY IT IS MY 60TH. BIRTHDAY WHILE ALL THIS IS GOING ON, HAPPY f~*^%#G BIRTHDAY JOHNNNNNY. WELL, NOW ALL PASSENGERS ARE GONE, EXCEPT US. AT 5 AM JEAN HEADS OFF TO THE AIRPORT TO SEE IF WE CAN GET ON THE 8:30 AM FLIGHT. I STOOD AT THE HOTEL ROOM WITH BAGS PACKED WAITING FOR THE CALL. AT THIS POINT WE HAVE SPENT ABOUT $100.00 IN CAB FEES RUNNING TO AND FROM HOTELS, AIRPORTS SINCE AIR FRANCE (THERE'S THAT FRENCH THING AGAIN) HAS NOT ANSWERED THEIR PHONE IN TWO DAYS. IN FACT, THOSE FRENCHIES DON’T HAVE ANYONE AT THE AIRPORT UNTIL THREE HOURS PRIOR TO A FLIGHT. NO WONDER THEY COULDN'T’T WIN A WAR….. OOOOP, I DIGRESSED. THE PHONE RINGS, JEAN SAYS, “ALL FLIGHTS ARE FULL” UNTIL MONDAY MORNING AT 4:28 AM. ANOTHER TRIP IN THE CAB BACK TO THE HOTEL FOR JEAN. I GO TO RECEPTION TO RESERVE OUR ROOM FOR A SECOND NIGHT. “NO CAN DO, WE ARE FULL” THE CLERK SAYS. I POPPED A MAALOX, GRIPPED THE COUNTER UNTIL MY KNUCKLES TURNED WHITE AND GAVE THIS FRENCHMAN ANOTHER REASON TO HATE AMERICANS. BECAUSE IT IS SUNDAY THERE IS NO MANAGER ON STAFF. I ASKED IF I COULD SPEAK WITH SOMEONE WHO IS GOING TO GIVE ME THE ANSWERS I AM LOOKING FOR…. A NICE YOUNG LADY APPEARED AND WITHIN TWO MINUTES WE ARE STAYING IN OUR ORIGINAL ROOM, AT THE ORIGINAL PRICE. I WAS GOING TO PLAY THAT, “IF YOUR PRESIDENT (OR CHIEF) ARRIVED HERE RIGHT NOW, YOU WOULD HAVE A ROOM FOR HIM. HE IS NOT COMING, SO I WILL TAKE HIS ROOM”