Monday, January 31, 2011

Just another day in paradise

Today began well before sunrise since we’re both still on EST and had a wonderful night’s rest. First thing we did was go out on our deck to once again take in the gorgeous scenery and listen to the friendly roosters crow.

Since the sun was not yet up I was able to take amazing photos of the fish in the water.
Didn't want to swim with him

It was nice and cool until the sun came up over the mountain and it quickly warmed up. We decided it was time to head over and get some breakfast. As we walked down the pier we saw the Silver Spirit as she was coming into port in Moorea. She was only here until 4:00 PM and then on to Papeete, where we will embark tomorrow.
We arrived at the restaurant and enjoyed a very plentiful breakfast buffet of everything from stir-fried vegetables to pancakes with local fruit compote. We managed to spend several hours grazing, talking to other folks and watch how they deliver room service here on the island.
That's what I call room service!
I think the restaurant must have been getting ready for lunch by the time we left. We walked around the grounds, browsed in the pearl shop, and then came back to take in the sun on the deck.
Not sure what this was...

Since the water was nice and calm, I decided to take the opportunity to go snorkeling. I will say the fish are VERY friendly and will come right up to you. There are just hundreds of them in the water and many are very brightly colored.
I'm in their world!
We had a snack around lunchtime, which consisted of a fresh baguette and some yummy cheese – all we needed was some wine! We stayed here until later in the afternoon when we decided to go by the pool. By this time the winds had really picked up.
About 2:00 we went into the bar to try a Hinano beer that is made in Tahiti. We enjoyed it so much that we had another. A couple we had met earlier was dining there as well and ended up sharing their pizza with us. We really enjoyed it.
 By 4:00 it was time for the Polynesian food demo by the pool. They showed us how to make Poisson Cru, which is the local specialty. It consists of raw tuna, lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and coconut milk. It was incredible. We made enough to have a light meal of it. While at the demo we met a couple from Kansas who are here on vacation. We spent the next 3 hours talking and having a fantastic time with them. We saw some storm clouds approaching and before we knew it a rainbow appeared – can this place get any better? 
It started to rain a bit, so we parted ways and went back to our “hut”. We had eaten so late in the day that we decided to just have some snacks here and not do a formal dinner. We sure have gotten lazy quickly. Mom is awake this evening and helping me with the blog as we look out and watch the lightening show that is on the horizon. It’s hard to believe that we have to leave here tomorrow. I think Mom is afraid that the trip might be downhill from here J We are doing great and having a fabulous time!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paradise Found

Our flight to Tahiti, though 8 ½ hours went very quickly. I slept quite a bit, Mom not as much. Breakfast came at 3:30 PST and by 4:30 we were on the ground at Fa’a Airport. We were warmly welcomed with flowers and thanks to Mom’s cane we were expedited through customs and immigration. We did need to get out some local currency, the Polynesian Franc, however, I am having a tough time with the math. For reference 100 USD is about 8700 XPF. 
"Play" Money
After retrieving our bags we were off to get a taxi and head to the port where we would pick up the ferry to Moorea. We were extremely early, so we had to wait until 7:00 AM for the ticket stand to open. We are in the same time zone as Hawaii, so that makes it 5 hours behind EST. English is not widely spoken here, so I am really struggling to remember my French. However, I was able to purchase our tickets entirely “en Francais”. The majority of those heading over on the ferry were French and/or locals coming over to the island for the day. 
Waiting on ferry

The Aremiti 5 is the high-speed catamaran that not only takes passengers, but also freight and vehicles. The stick to a very strict schedule and by 7:35 we were on our way. It was only a 30-minute trip with some of the most beautiful scenery. After getting off of the ferry and again getting our luggage, we were met by our driver. We are staying at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon & Spa, which is approximately 25 minutes from the ferry dock. The island of Moorea is a heart shaped island only about 11 km from Papeete, Tahiti. These islands are all considered part of French Polynesia. The only inhabitable area is just along the coastline since most of it is extremely mountainous. By 9:00 AM we were being driven to our over the water bungalow (OWB) by a nice man named Manuiti. He and his family have been on Moorea for generations and told us that 80% of those who are native to Moorea are related. He said that he has to go to another island to meet women or has to get an extensive background on someone he meets here since they are probably related! Our accommodations here are unlike any in the world and something I have only seen pictures of, or in the movie Couples Retreat. We have a panoramic OWB, so we have views of the gorgeous turquoise waters all around us and even a glass section of our floor. There were fresh fragrant flowers decorating the beds – frangipani. 
Views from our room
It took us no time to get out on our deck on the comfy chaise lounges and start sunning ourselves. Considering it took us 28 hours to get here we were in extremely good spirits and Mom seems to be getting along better than ever. The weather is warm and humid with a constant breeze, just what one would expect in the South Seas. The water is so clear that I can photograph the coral from up on the deck. 
We waited until 11:30 to go and get something to eat for lunch. We split a salad and enormous pizza – what can I say, we needed comfort food! After lunch we spent some time by the pool and I went swimming. We headed back later this afternoon to enjoy our “little grass hut” as my Mom calls it. 
Our Hut
Sunset on Day One

We had a knock on the door and before we knew it we had a bottle of white wine being delivered to our room compliments of the hotel. Since we knew it was past 5 o’clock at home we decided to enjoy a glass and watch a movie on TCM (the only channel in English other than CNN). We had our leftover pizza from lunch followed by pecan pie that we brought all the way from NC. It was a strange and eclectic meal, but we both were too tired to go out tonight. There was some additional entertainment as we watched a “gar” fish tread water underneath our floor. After dinner we each enjoyed a much needed shower under an 18 inch square rain shower head. It was all I could do to get out. Mom usually helps me with the blog, but this evening she has already fallen asleep, so I am on my own! I am trying to hang in there just a bit longer so I don’t wake up at 3 AM. Not sure what tomorrow holds since that will depend on how we’re feeling. Sending warm wishes back to everyone at home. Bonsoir!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finally, Tahiti Bound

Long day, but it isn't over yet...

Arriving at LAX was the easy party…then the “fun” started. We ended up having to wait for our luggage for almost an hour. Then it was off to Terminal 2 via the “special bus”. We had arrived early enough that the ticket counter had not even opened. The theme of today seems to be hurry up and wait. While waiting a group came in with at least 5 or 6 coolers, and I mean huge coolers full of everything from items purchased at Target to Costco size boxes of Oreos. The entire transaction was in French I think, so we didn’t catch much. Finally another agent came up and assisted us and off to the security line we went. Mom gave a show tonight on the full body scanner - the x-ray images will be posted at a later date J We are now waiting in the Air France lounge for our flight which will board in about and hour and half. We’ve snacked on some cheese and crackers and are listening to all of the French being spoken around us. Hopefully some of it will come back to me. What I’ve had to use so far is pretty rusty. Mom is currently watching them unload the trash from a plane that has just arrived and is absolutely fascinated; wow, she is easily amused. Next time you hear from us it will be from Tahiti! Bonne nuit.

Are we having fun yet?

At 30,000 feet enjoying our first Bloody Mary and of course in flight internet. 

At the Airport

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One week until we leave!

In case you're wondering where exactly we're going, I thought I would show you.