Nothing was going to live up to the last three days. I would have deemed this hotel in Moorea very pleasant if I had visited here before the over water bungalows of Bora Bora. There are water bungalows, though not nearly as nice, There's just a view over the lagoon to the reef beyond and a teeny beach. No flower or shell garlands on arrival either. My room is tucked at the back, categorised as garden view, which works if you have a good imagination. Being positive, there is a great infinity pool that really does look as if it dissolves into the sea. And there is a lovely view of the mountains looking back behind the hotel.
Including the ocean, the whole of French Polynesia is equivalent in size to Europe. Moorea is billed as having the most beautiful scenery in The Society Islands (the Tahitian group). I can see why; it has glassy peaks that soar up, in jagged ridges, from the ocean. This must be why this island is also another contender for the original Bali Hai (the last suggestion was in Vanuatu). It transpires that one of the peaks is actually the one used in the film South Pacific. (I shouldn't have used up all my superlatives on Route 66).
Whales today. Three big ones and a calf all jumping in unison. More stingrays (literally more than before, though no names this time), more reef sharks. Unfortunately, more tourists pursuing them too. Most of the visitors in Polynesia are American and Italian (cheap promotional flights from Rome I'm told). There are far fewer conversations to be shared than in The Cook Islands, though I can hear the conversations of both nationalities quite clearly. Unfortunately, also a lot more hanging around on a motu while the captain does his act. I have seen coconut husking demonstrated three times now. It looks much too strenuous to attempt to me. Good job I have my book. Good job it's still sunny. There have only been small amounts of rain, at night, this last week. Very clever.
Very little done today. I saunter along the reed edge and watch an octopus desultorily dragging his girlfriend along on the end of one long tentacle. That’s marine romance in action. I sunbathe, read and do a few laps of the pool, avoiding the French aqua exercise class. Un, deux, trois. I also eat Polynesian buffet. Raw tuna, tuna salad, tuna steaks.
I'm leaving later today and feel guilty about yesterday's sloth, so at the last minute I (literally) jump on a 4WD that is leaving early for a tour of the interior. Good decision. Amazing views down to the reef and across the mountains, and bays, including Bali Hai and the bay where Cook might or might not have first landed. The drive up to one viewpoint, is possibly the scariest ever, with part of the uphill track running along a barrow ridge that falls away steeply on both sides. Pineapple plantations and neat little fruit farms tucked under the hills. Breadfruit, soursop, citrus, pawpaw (papaya), mango, barbadine, coconut and bananas. A few temples known as marae, that date back 500 hundred years or so, complete with altars for the sacrifice of animals and the odd human.
I'm late for the bus to the airport, as I have been give the wrong time. I'm faced with a sea of glowering faces when I finally manage to pay my bill and clamber aboard. So it's not great news that I almost miss the flight itself as well. This too has been called before the stated time and I am sitting outside reading. I am waved onto the plane by an angry little man and it takes off early. Also possibly the shortest flight I have ever been on, Moorea back to Papeete. As soon as we are up in the air the tannoy announces that we are landing. It must have taken all of six minutes and we land one minute before we were due to take off.
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