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South Pacific Cruise: 2 November 2007

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

What a view!

We woke early thanks to the three-hour time difference. We lay in bed as long as we could, but the bright sky outside our window lured us from bed around 6:00.

The view from our deck was wonderful. The clear lagoon water lapped against the pilings and lower deck. Farther out was the deeper blue of a small channel, then the light turquoise of the shallow lagoon. About half a mile away, we could see large waves breaking against the outer reef of the island. On the distant horizon sat Moorea, the neighboring island twenty miles distant.

We sat on the deck for a while and enjoyed the breeze and our view of Moorea. At 6:20, I called room service and asked for an “American Breakfast” to be delivered to the room. If we had ordered the night before, we could have had it delivered in a canoe, but that would have been too extravagant even for this vacation.

Half an hour later, there was a knock on our door, and breakfast was delivered by a pretty Tahitian woman. The tray was big and loaded. We had eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, bread, juice, coffee, and tea. We would find out the next day that it had been complimentary. We were only charged the 500 French Polynesian Francs (about $6) room service fee.

A lazy day

As we gorged ourselves on our massive breakfast, we talked about what to do with our day. We could tour the island, walk around downtown Papeete, or just take it easy at the resort. We decided we would stay put and be lazy until we tired of it.

At 8:00, we went for a walk around the resort. It is quite large – 34 acres – and beautifully landscaped and maintained. One of the main features is the “lagoonarium”, a large pool of sea water that is separated from the lagoon. It is stocked with fish and even has a couple of stingrays. The resort also has a lot of over-water bungalows. Some are like ours, and others are larger and farther from the reception area.

We ended our tour back at the main building, where the biggest restaurant, Le Tiare, is. The restaurant is covered, but open on the side that faces the lagoon. As we walked past, we heard our names called. We looked up and saw Nancy and Rich waving at us from their table in the restaurant.

We snooped around the resort gift shop, and Chris checked out the Robert Wan Jewelry store. She saw some nice pieces and some ugly pieces. All of them were expensive. We eventually decided we weren’t going to spend money there and walked back to our bungalow.

There we changed into our swim suits and headed back up to the main pool. It is just outside the Tiare restaurant and features an artificial waterfall. The water was perfect. Cool enough to overcome the mugginess of the air, but not too cool to lounge in. We played around in the waterfall for a while and then went down the hill to the lagoonarium. We didn’t have masks and snorkels, but we still got in.

It was time to test out our new camera – an Olympus Stylus SW770. It is waterproof to thirty-three feet. Since I didn’t have a mask, I couldn’t really compose the pictures using the camera’s LCD viewfinder. I just pointed it at fish and rays and hoped I was getting decent pictures. I took lots, but only a few turned out well.

It was still early, but the sun was getting quite hot and we were paranoid about getting sunburned on our first day. We returned to our bungalow where we showered off the salt water, and then relaxed in the shade on our deck. We read our books, dozed a bit, and read some more.

Eventually, we realized we were hungry. We trekked back up to the Tiare where we ordered Caesar salads with seared Ahi tuna, a Hinano – the local beer – for me and chardonnay for Chris. The salad was excellent. The tuna had been seared, spiced with curry, and sliced. The red, rare meat was tender and delicious.

On our way back to the bungalow from lunch, we passed by a hammock strung between two palm trees next to the lagoonarium. We lay down in it and closed our eyes, enjoying the shade and the breeze. After about twenty minutes, the sun was starting to peak around the palm fronds, and we weren’t wearing sun screen. We climbed out of the hammock and continued to our bungalow.

Our deck faced west, and the sun was invading it, too. We took a nap inside the room instead. Around 5:30, the sun was sinking toward the horizon so we moved to the deck again. For the next half hour we watched the sun set and waved at a dozen or more outrigger canoes that rowed past.

Dinner and a show

We had a 7:30 dinner reservation at Le Tiare, where we would also watch a Polynesian dance show. By 7:00 we were ready, so we walked up. We sat down in the bar to wait for our table. I noticed a large line at the hostess desk where diners were arriving for their 7:00 reservations. It turned out that the best tables for the show went to the 7:00 arrivals.

When the bar waitress came, I ordered a Chimay beer – a French brew I had never tried before. Chris ordered a mohito. The drinks came and were very good. The Chimay had a nice flavor and a bit of a kick with its 9% alcohol content.

At 7:30, we were led to our table. It was at ground level, just below the dance stage and about twenty feet from where the dancers would be. Chris had a great view, but I noticed a video camera tripod between the stage and me. A TV cameraman would be recording the show from there.

We ordered a bottle of white wine and a bottle of water and headed to the buffet. Most of the food was seafood in a wide variety – from whole shrimp and split lobsters to monk fish, salmon and sushi. There was also some red meat, including lamb kabobs. We helped ourselves to fish and salad. Later we made another visit for desserts.

The dance troupe who put on the Polynesian show was excellent. The choreography was exciting and performed well. The women dancers were beautiful and the men dancers were unbelievably buff. The story was a little hard to follow, because the introduction was in French and all the narration was in Polynesian. However it appeared that a woman was separated from her lover, her friends tried to cheer her up, his friends tried to get his attention on other things, and finally they were reunited.

The dancers from behind the stage

The costumes were colorful and the dancers changed into new outfits for every dance. The show lasted from 8:40 to nearly 10:00. At the end, the dancers came into the audience and selected victims to go up on stage and dance with them. Some of the victims were pretty good, but others were hopeless. Chris and I were just glad they didn’t come towards either of us.

After the show we went back to the bungalow and read in bed for a while. We finally went to sleep around 11:00.

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