Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chartering Bora Bora

After three and a half days of a quiet existence on Taha'a, we say good-bye to the little island and board a fishing boat to Bora Bora. Other than the crew and perhaps some bait, Kimi and I are the only two on board.

Our ride to Bora.

Approaching Bora Bora by air is stunning, but to approach the island by water is to see her shores the way the Polynesians have for centuries. Frigate birds circle above schools of mahi mahi. Terns, wintering here from the arctic, follow tuna through the currents, and on the horizon, Bora Bora sits majestically upon her watery throne. She is the queen of these islands; we, merely her subjects.

Flying fish escort us north across the Pacific. One travels at least 15 feet before falling back to the sea. Even our captain, born and raised on these waters, is impressed. As we draw closer to Bora Bora, green-bottomed clouds reflect the island's lagoon like a road sign in the Pacific. On the low-lying island chains to the south, it is these reflective clouds that guide lost fishermen to land. We, too, are given a chance for reflection as our captain tells of a Polynesian history that, unfortunately, isn't so ancient. He speaks of a culture- no, that's too easy of a word- he speaks of a people, moms and grandfathers, pushed to the edges of extinction. He tells of a group of people who lost their customs, their beliefs, and nearly their language to another man's ideals. He shares all this with humor, wisdom, and I believe, a sense of responsibility- to the past, but also the future.

I ask him what he thinks is the answer. "Well, we aren't going back," he responds. "Nope," I agree. "The answer," he says, "is respect. Respect Mother Earth. Respect each other." The green-bottomed clouds are almost on top of us now. I look up and think about his answer.

If a man, living on a volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from land in any direction knows this, what's our excuse?

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bora Bora Birthday

I woke up a year older today. Funny how birthdays do that to you. Just when you think life is going fine- BAM! You're over the hill, more than halfway to 80. No offense to the octogenarians out there, but I think I might jump.

Then again, we're in the French territories. Maybe a sabre would be better? We all know how much Napoleon loved his sword.

Wait? What's that you say? There's champagne?

Perhaps I should rethink this jugular thing. After all, Napoleon loved his champagne too, and legend around here has it that this is how he opened his bottles on the battlefield.

With a pop, the cork lands in the lagoon. Guess I have to jump in after all. Cheers to that! And cheers to the octogenarions too! See you soon!

Maruuru, everyone, thanks for all the birthday wishes today!

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Meet Big Papi

We've had stray cats on vacation, even a stray dog or two, but a stray pufferfish was certainly a first. He showed up around dinner time on our first night and hung out by our swim ladder staring at us with his big, soft eyes. When he drooped them for added effect, we knew we were in for it. And judging from his size, we weren't the first. Soon, we were carrying him bread home from breakfast and dinner and calling him Big Papi after the Red Sox slugger.

Meet Big Papi.

Big Papi was never far from a meal. He showed up for breakfast and dinner on his own, but we could also lure him over for lunch by tossing bread into the water. With eyes on the side of his head, he couldn't always find the bread when it was right in front of him. He would make this funny glub glub slurping noise as he aimed with mouth wide open.

Sometimes he nailed it.

And sometimes he didn't.

Just like the Red Sox slugger.

Later at breakfast (ours, not Big Papi's), we met a fellow whose son-in-law pitches for the Red Sox. He won the championship with them last year. We told him about the Big Papi of French Polynesia and talked a little sports, the common language of travelers. Turns out they were Oregon Duck fans too!

On that note, it's nearly time for the Super Bowl. Go Hawks! We'll be watching from Bora Bora on the Australian feed. Somehow, I don't think the commercials will be as good!

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