Raiatea, and Working my Way Back to Papeete, and Forward to Bora Bora…
If I listen very carefully, I hear the distant whoosh of the waves crashing over the coral reef as the sun lowers in the sky just above the mountainous peaks of Raiatea. We are anchored for a second night in this beautiful bay about half-way between the island of Raiatea and coral reef that encircles the island like the other Society Islands of French Polynesia. The water is clear and calm. I feel such a peace and a sense of wonder when I snorkel in and around the reefs even if there are only a few fish to view. The sun sparkles on the water and the sand is white on the bottom. The richness of the blues, yellows, blacks, reds of the fishes are striking. We did see a few Rays (white-spotted Eagle Ray was one) in the water as we started the anchoring process two days ago.
The topography of Raiatea is mountainous with many peaks like the island of Mo’orea. Trees fill in the peaks with mostly palm trees lining the shore. The anchorage in Mo’orea, the mouth of Opunopu Bay (had to ask Zeke for the name and spelling!) had a spectacular view of the even higher and more dramatic peaks than Raiatea. Even though we were in the middle of two resorts with various motor boats, the beauty superseded all of it. I enjoyed watching each day the local sailing school of about 8 hobie cats with three to four kids on each boat with their colorful sails, the kids’ shouts and laughter as they sailed by and the continuous shouts of commands in French by their instructor who leads them in a small dinghy. We met other USA boats who have been cruising for 10 to 15 years in French Polynesia!
Going back in time to the first time I saw his face…After I went through immigration at the airport in Papeete, Tahiti, I spotted Zeke above the crowd. I waved high and wide at him! He had long whitish hair but what was most striking was his very long mostly white full beard! The hosts of the Air B&B were waiting to take us back to their apartment in Papeete where we stayed for the next three nights. The high heat and humidity was intense. I thought a room with a fan was going to be fine but not so much. The nice shower made up for it a bit but only a bit! I knew I needed to choose to slow down and take responsibility for my own well-being by looking for ways to accept the heat, keep cool on many levels and still have fun. I can say I did well!
Life on the boat from my perspective…it took me about two weeks to acclimate to yacht life or should I say life on “No Regrets” with Zeke and his partner Bill. The first week we spent in Papeete. The boat along with other BPO boats were in a shiny new marina downtown Papeete. Zeke and Bill sent a sail and awning to be repaired, which was going to take about 5 days. Otherwise, we may have left Papeete earlier. I have several bruises from bumping into things on the boat. Ceilings are low! There was a couple of times claustrophobia showed up when it was hot and humid in our berth. I experienced the boat getting smaller and hotter! However, there are many places one may sleep on a yacht such as the cozy cockpit, the hard deck or the bouncy, strappy trampoline. Fortunately, I settled in. There were also systems on the boat or ways things get done and I knew I had to learn them and respect them. How is this Diva going to expand to embrace the whole experience with fun, joy, curiosity, openness and also at the same time connect with Zeke? Well, this was what this Diva did: let go of any expectations, kept choosing the moment, asked for help and support, took one step at a time, was courageous, accepted where I was and forgave myself especially when I didn’t go beyond my fears (However, each time I got a little bit braver.)
My first impression of Papeete was how HOT it is so staying on the boat in a marina with no wind took some getting used to. There are fans on the boat but no AC. Many BPO boats have AC. The city of Papeete is kind of run down and dirty in most places but there were pockets of beauty and quiet and some lovely interactions with the locals. Bill discovered these three open air restaurants (most are open air!) and we had to walk through this beautiful park to get there. Families hung out there in the evening. It was very well lit and beautifully kept. Zeke and I rented a car and drove around Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti and we found the highest peak for a beautiful view.
I enjoyed interacting with a local Tahitian woman at the open market who sold various jewelry. She was very sweet and helpful and had a beautiful warm smile. We have found all local people so far in the Society Islands to be helpful, warm, friendly and seemingly happy. It is frustrating to not speak Polynesian or French but we usually found ways to communicate. I began to engage more and more by asking how to say something in French. I began greeting people in French. The Polynesian language and traditions are not as prevalent now unfortunately but here and there you see the traditional dances and music performed. The Tahitians during a holiday made these beautiful flower head wreaths!! Many Polynesian flowers are very fragrant.
The people of French Polynesia are very proud of their traditions. It seems that even the young people honor the Polynesian traditions that we have witnessed in their traditional dances, drumming, and singing. Many communities have been practicing for a major competition that is held annually in Polynesia. On Bora Bora, we have gone to watch rehearsals of the dancing and singing along with the drumming and music. The drumming is so primal and powerful and the women move their hips to the beat of the drums. The singing is sweet, soft and fluid. All of it emanates joy and love and beauty.
I have been in Bora Bora for 5 days on a mooring at the MaiKai Yacht Club. Nice amenities like a swimming pool with the view of the water and peaks. We discovered that there is only one close to white sandy beach in all of the Society Islands and that is a public beach in Bora Bora. The most striking and extraordinary physical features of the Society Islands are the peaks and their many jagged edges. And, yes about five 5-star resorts with those water huts ranging from $500-$15,000 a night! We took an island tour yesterday and the views were breathtaking. All the blues and greens in the water are just gorgeous! We ate fresh coconut and sipped its juice. There are coconuts, pamplemousse, bananas, mangos and papayas galore everywhere.
Zeke is already planning and prepping for the next phase of the BPO but I refer you back to his blog for details. We are together at the pool and will do a few errands and like most days see what we do as the time comes. I did plan to at least begin packing today but midday sun and heat does not lend for packing down below.
C’est La Vie!