Tuesday, August 4, 2009
So where do people who live on Tahiti go on vacation? Actually most of us would prefer to leave the country, not because we don't love it here but because we crave variety. Snow, smog, shopping malls - we love them for a few days, love the strange sensation of being truly cold, the edgy metropolitan feel of a city, loud bars, a real cinema and we looooove shopping. Then we're happy to go home. But when budgets don't allow for tickets out we are forced to go somewhere much nicer than LA or Paris, we go to Moorea.
It's only 10 miles and a 30-minute boat ride across the "Sea of the Moon" to what I believe is the most beautiful island in French Polynesia. Of course from Teahupoo, where I live, you have to add an hour and a half driving time to get to Papeete but that's another story. Every time I visit Moorea I wonder why I don't go more often. As the Aremiti ferry pulls out of port in Papeete you get a full-frontal panorama of the city with its newly gussied up waterfront complete with palm fringed black sand beach covered in a mass of local athlete's outrigger canoes painted glossy red, yellow, white or blue. The beige-pink steeple of Paofai Church pokes over the palms as a reminder that the car-clogged city was once a low-key colonial port town; this always makes me a little wistful and reminds me how exotic it is here and how lucky I am to be here. Usually a practicing team of outrigger rowers whisk by the ferry before it reaches the outer reef and heads out of the fluorescent blue lagoon.
Speeding across the Sea of the Moon, pods of dolphins sometimes follow the ferry for a while and on occasion you might even get to see a breaching whale. We didn't see any marine mammals on our way to Moorea on this trip but watching Papeete get smaller from the windy upper deck is always a delight. Then, as Tahiti turns abstract all eyes turn to Moorea.
Moorea is perfect. The near vertical peaks are cut at angles so sharp and teetering that they look like the work of some strung out artist with a straight edge. Unlike Tahiti which is a heavy mountainous glob, Moorea has valleys that chisel their way around the sharply delicate peaks allowing the sun to shine through unencumbered by vast shadows and the whole place feels bright and open. Meanwhile the lagoon is as blue as any Photoshopped postcard you've ever seen and slender white sand beaches line the coast.
So what did we do on Moorea? Not a lot. We have several good friends on the island and most of our time was spent catching up over rum punch and sunsets. We did get to see a fabulous dance performance by a troupe from Rapa, the most remote island in French Polynesia and I'll get to this (with pictures) in my next blog. In the meantime, sweet Moorea dreams. I'm back on Tahiti and a cold (for here anyway) and windy storm front has come has come in so I too am missing the tropical sun.