Greetings from Manihi!

December 12, 2008


Sunrise

God, don’t I wish. While it’s been a rough week back in the real world, the 7 days we spent in Manihi were as awesome as the last time we were there, if not better.

Just like last time, we spent a lot of time snorkeling right after sunrise. We brought an underwater camera this time, so we were able to get a few good shots of the fishies, though we never really mastered the taking pictures underwater thing (most are Raju’s, and he got much, much better at it than I did).


Banner Fish


Picasso Fish

Even though Raju was certain I would tire of him pointing out the Picasso fish every time it was spotted, I didn’t. It was so awesome to get to swim with them some this time. After 20 years, I’ve finally acclimated to snorkeling, finally learned to breath through the snorkel, not through my nose. And though I’m still a little wary of swimming where there are sharks, I think I have the panicky-ness under control now, too.

Speaking of sharks, something new we did this time was the Picnic on a Motu. We set out on a three-hour tour with Captain Kana, Alberto, Frederica, and a few other peeps. First we stopped to do a little hand-line fishing – we did need something to cook at the picnic after all. Then we landed on another strip of the atoll, where there were a lot of remoras, Fric and Frac’s bros from the last trip. They can eat quite a large chunk of meat; much more than Raju thought possible. And they are curious – one nipped my heels later on, though I had my swim shoes on so it didn’t hurt.

But I digress, we were speaking of sharks, not remoras. Our crazy captain thinks it is sport to try to catch sharks with nothing more than a rope, some fish guts, and his body. Tie large pieces of fish to the rope, and lure the shark toward shore. When he gets close, jump on him!! Well, I may think he’s crazy, but it worked. He also caught a baby just by watching it then swiftly sticking his hand in the water and grabbing it.


Fishing for Sharks


Raju with the big shark

There’s quite a bit more to share, including some videos Raju took while we snorkeled, but I’ll save those for another post, as this one is becoming a tad long.

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The Frog

July 24, 2006

If anyone is wondering why the frog is in some of the pictures — He’s the Spotless Cleaners Frog from Johnson City, Tennessee. He apparently hopped in my bag as I was leaving Tennessee and hitched a ride to Tahiti. Only then did he hop out and make his presence known!

So, since he was there we figured he might as well have a good time. Spotless frog not only enjoyed the views, but he went snorkeling with us and even relaxed and had a Hinano or two. He enjoyed the islands, but now I bet he’s regretting coming back to California with me. There’s a heat wave — 104 all weekend — and no where near the humidity he enjoys in Tennessee. I bet he’ll be hitching a ride back when I head to Tennessee in August!

Check out the frog, in all his singing glory, in the video below (Isn’t it amazing how different he looks when he has his professional makeup on??):

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Courtney refrains from ticking off airport officials

July 23, 2006

Ahhh… the real airport! How silly of me to think the place we landed and were picked up was the airport! So where is this real airport located?

Well, instead of taking a left at the road, you take a right. And we had actually rode by it on the bikes (the “real” airport is also within walking distance). It was the place where I had seen the roosters — yes, that’s roosters, at the airport.

The airport was an open air structure, with a few benches (very similar, thus far, to where we landed). It had two check-in counters and one baggage-weighing-doo-hickie. It also had what I am assuming was a snack bar (it wasn’t open, and this was one of the two flights out for the day) which is what you see pictured above.

As we wait at the airport I see more puppies. One a guy is carrying in a tote bag. This pup goes along on the plane with us, sacked out underneath the seat in front of his owner (no crate, and he’s out of the bag at this point). The other is really a pup, probably about 9 or 10 weeks old. He was fiesty but friendly.

When we land in Tahiti we’re greeted by Marama tour guide guy and he shows us the sites of the airport. We attempt to walk towards town a little ways, as the pearl boutique woman had told us about a good Chinese restaurant, but alas, it wasn’t open. So we head back to the airport and enjoy their cafeteria-style food.

We get a half-bottle of wine, a bottle of water, each of us have chicken and rice, and we split a chocolate mousse. Now, this was by far the best airport food I’ve ever had — a very tasty meal (good restaurant quality). But, for $70, it should be! Yes, $70 for dinner, in the airport. Man, this is worse than Disney (but, the quality of the food is much better than Disney, so I guess it all evens out).

We continue to roam around for a while, wandering in and out of the shops. We spot a kitty and stop to pet it. Finally, we decide it is time to grab our bags and head through the security checkpoint.

This is where it gets fun. Remeber how it was a breeze getting into the country? Well, leaving was a different story. I walk up to customs and hand them my passport, the form I received on entry, and my boarding pass. The man starts looking at my passport, which wasn’t stamped.

“Did you come in to Tahiti via air?”
“Yes, I came in here, this airport.”
“Not by boat?”
“No, by airplane. I came in here, at this airport. Right back there.”
I point. “They gave me that form and waved me through.”
“Are you with someone?”

At this point I wave Raju over, and he proceeds to ask him the same questions he asked me. Then he assk me the questions again. Then there’s some discussion with another guy, who walks off to a back room to have more discussion. When he comes back, they discuss a little more. Then:

“So where is your form?” he asks me, referring to Raju’s form he has in hand.
“I gave it to you, it’s right there.” I point to where he has now laid down my passport, boarding pass, and form.
“You didn’t give it to me. Where’s your form?”
“Yes, I did. It’s right there. Underneath my passport, underneath my boarding pass!”
At this point I’m starting to get slightly irate, and I’m really trying to refrain from reaching my arm through the window and picking up the form (my arm has a mind of it’s own and it already half-way in). I know this probably won’t end good if I keep up.

Luckily, he sees the form, and my boarding pass at this point. He shakes his head, stamps both of our passports, and lets us go through. After some quick security checks of our baggage, we are in and able to continue wandering through shops until time for our plane to board.

Unfortunately the food wasn’t as good on the flight back, and I was a lot more fidgety this time. But, 21 hours later, I was stepping out of a cab and walking through my front door, being greeted by the Milo. And that, my friends, was my Polynesian adventure.

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Pearls, Oysters, Maya, and the infamous Coconut Pie

July 19, 2006

Our last day on the island we visited a pearl farm. We boarded the boat and zoomed across the lagoon, getting a good look at the huts/houses built out in the middle. Some were decrepit, some were veritable mansions.

As we pulled up at the farm, the first thing I noticed was a dog! Black doggie was hunting out something in the water. It ended up just being a piece of string, but at this point I didn’t care about the pearls, I just wanted to pet the dog.

And I got my chance. There were actually two dogs, Maya and Sebastian. Maya was the black dog I had seen down at the water. Both dogs were extremely friendly and wanted to be petted. As I listened to two presentations about Tahitian pearls, one in French and one in English (still not understanding a lick of French) Maya came over to be scratched and petted. It made me not so sad to be leaving the island, because she had those same big eyes that Milo has, and I couldn’t wait to get home to him.

After the presentation was finished, and we knew everything there was to know about the pearls (it was like a classroom presentation, but being the geek I am, it was cool), we went into the working area and saw the process first-hand from a grafter. She showed us how it was like being part dentist/part gynecologist as she peeked inside an oyster to see if it had the correct coloring (this would be the dentist part), then pried open another shell to implant the nucleus with the meat that gives the pearl its color (and this would be the latter part).

Apparently I looked like the best mark for being grossed out by eating an oyster, because the woman leading the tour kept teasing me about eating one. I love oysters, so I was definitely game for trying one that was this fresh. I think the entire group (with exception of Raju) was suprised that I ate it. It was good, but it looked nor tasted like any kind of oyster I’ve ever had. It was served to me on a mother of pearl shell with a little lemon juice. The meat was tougher and more chewy, instead of the slimy oysters we eat here. Think sea scallop. But it was tasty, and I wouldn’t have turned down a dozen of them with a bottle of wine for sure.

After the oohs, aahs, and giggles that the blonde, American girl had eaten the oyster, it was back to the boat for us, zooming across the lagoon, and back to the hotel room to pack. We did stop by the shop to buy a few pearls, then we had our last meal at the resort.

Which brings me to the coconut pie. For days I had tried to order the coconut pie for dessert. The first day I ordered it they had just ran out. Each subsequent day, they didn’t have it. But today, oh yes, today they had the coconut pie. So I eagerly ordered it — not because I love coconut pie, but I had been craving what I couldn’t have.

But, my hopes were dashed. Before I could have my coconut pie, reception called and said we needed to leave immediately in order to make it to the airport. What??!! It’s within walking distance and there’s nothing there! Why would I need to leave an hour before my flight? Why can’t I have my pie?

“Oh, you’re not going to the airport you came in at. You’re going to the real airport today.”

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Fleeting feelings of childhood

July 19, 2006

“Where can you go on the island?”
“You can take the road — left or right.”

I’ve been wanting to ride a bike since February. Now if we could just get the bikes before the Frowning French Foursome (just kidding, but the one couple just looked so unhappy the entire trip).

One morning after our snorkel and breakfast, we managed to grab a couple of bikes. Off we went – with my white, cotton miniskirt billowing in the wind. I felt I should have some bread in the front basket or something. We rode back down to the palm groves near the airport, where the crabs darted out in front of us every few seconds. Then, we turned and went the other way — that would be the right way.

We passed a small boutique, which we rode out to on the way back (I wish I had bought that keshi necklace — it was pretty on me). We continued riding and saw some of the roosters that I had heard from the hotel. We rode some more, bouncing around on the rocky road like a couple of kids, until we were in this weird, barren piece of land as far as the eye could see. Just rocks to the left, rocks to the right, and ocean beyond. You could look back and see signs of life, palm trees, etc. and you could look forward and see a little oasis of palm trees, but both seemed so far away. So we decided to turn back, as we were sweaty, and it was getting hotter out.

We rode a few more times during the trip, but the first time was by far the most fun. Now I definitely need to buy a bike, even a cheap one, so I can be transported back to childhood anytime.

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