Tues Apr 28 – Oh, This is the Life!

Glad to say I’m feeling back to normal today, with my energy back.

We rented a double outrigger canoe this morning and went for a good long outing.  The water here is very turquoise and very clear and as we paddled, we could see all kinds of colourful fish swimming around beneath the boat.  It was really pretty awesome. (Once we figured out how to steer, that is!)  Unfortunately, because I was also paddling, I couldn’t take any pictures of us!  Where is that darn selfie stick anyway?!

This afternoon we picked up some snorkeling gear and jumped off our deck and went for another swim with the fishies.  The resort is surrounded by coral (even right under our deck!) and I have to say the varieties of fish we see here are almost as good as when we snorkeled off the Great Barrier Reef.  Today we saw several different angel fish, parrot fish, small vivid blue ones, big schools of orange roughy, big schools of some really pretty yellow ones, some almost transparent large white ones, etc etc. The only problem is that the snorkeling gear is not very good and I had a real fight with my mask. I eventually gave up and went back to the bungalow but Peter kept on for another hour or more.  Really really wish that we had an underwater camera with us.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the deck, gazing out over the Pacific Ocean and we both agree that there is no better way to relax.  The weather is perfect now – hot in the sun but pleasant in the shade, not too humid.  We have had some nice accommodations throughout our trip, but this over-ocean bungalow in Moorea is the clear winner.

However both of us are definitely thinking of home.  We had a nice Skype with my parents first thing this morning, firming up our dinner plans with them for Saturday night. And it sounds like the weather is improving in Toronto so that’s good news too.  I’m really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again, not because it’s my own bed, but because it represents a return to normality and routine. I think it’s safe to say that both Peter and I are ready for that.

_DSC0036  Moorea landscape taken by Peter during his drive yesterday.

_DSC0097  Swimming in the ocean, right off our deck.

_DSC0135  Tonight’s sunset, shot from the deck.  (I’m trying to figure out how to pack up this deck and bring it home with me!)

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Mon April 27 – Bump on a Log in Moorea

Or more precisely, lump on a deck!  I spent the whole day today lying on a chaise on our bungalow deck looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

I was not feeling very well, basically felt very tired and somewhat physically ill.  So I had no energy or motivation to accompany Peter on his hiking outing, and I literally did not move off the deck except to jump into the ocean every once in a while.

I suspect that I am having a huge letdown of the energy levels I have fought to sustain for 8 weeks to make sure all our plans played out as expected, and that I had some contingencies in mind in case there were any problems.  There is now nothing left to worry about except our 2 flights home and there’s not much to worry about with them – even if they do go haywire, there aren’t really any repercussions to deal with or plans to re-jig that can’t be solved by a quick email home.

So I’m not feeling too guilty about wimping out for one day!  And the best thing:  I was able to Skype with Rebeccah and Charlotte (and Ken) for about ½ hour in the afternoon.  It was terrific to catch up with them, it’s been such a long time since we’ve talked (8 ½ weeks to be precise!)

Peter was off hiking and driving and seems to have had a good afternoon, so that’s another reason I’m glad I stayed home – I didn’t interfere with his (much higher!) energy levels.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be feeling more perky and we can take advantage of some of the activities the resort has to offer.  Peter is anxious to try paddling an outrigger canoe – if it happens, I’ll take pictures for sure!

IMG_3552  What I did today – view to the west.

IMG_3553  What I did today – view to the north.

IMG_3556  My swimming companions – right off our deck.

IMG_3560  Peter enjoying a swim after his much more energetic day.

Sun April 26 – Lying Low in Moorea

Quiet day in Moorea.  The weather is still cloudy and windy, with a little rain thrown in for good measure, so we didn’t do too much today.  Spent the morning on our computers – Peter editing his pictures and me watching the Diane Sawyer-Bruce Jenner interview!

In the afternoon, Peter went out photographing on his own and I read a book and then went paddle-boarding for the first time!  I actually really enjoyed it, and was surprised how much work it is!

After that, we jumped off the deck and went for a nice ocean swim before watching the sun go down. We were rewarded for our slothful day with our first dramatic sunset on Moorea.

Truthfully, I was happy to chill out today and I was happy to take advantage of a very private deck, watching the ocean and listening to the waves. Who knows when I’ll have the same opportunity again.

Pictures below are courtesy of Peter who seemed to have quite a bit more energy than me today!

Moorea scene  Some of the mountain scenery on Moorea.

Moorea Sunset  Our first dramatic Moorea sunset – captured from the deck of our bungalow!

Sat April 25 – Beautiful Moorea, Dodgy Weather

Moorea is an incredibly scenic island.  It is volcanic in origin, so there are very steep and jagged cliffs and mountains covering most of the island.  They jut up dramatically into the sky and are covered with lush green vegetation, including some very interesting trees that we’ve never seen before – with very wide and lacy foliage.  The palm trees here are also unlike any I’ve seen before.  They are incredibly tall and thin, very straight trunks, with all their leaves centered at the top.  So you can look completely through a field of tall thin trunks but if you were to look down on it, it would seem to be dense vegetation.

The scenery is most reminiscent of Hawaii, Kaui in particular, but much smaller in scale, and perhaps with fewer flowering trees and bushes.

There is a weather system going through right now – I’m suspicious it followed us from Hamilton Island, because it is the same unusually windy weather!  Made it difficult to do too much today so we decided to rent a car in the afternoon and drive around the island.

There is only one road on the island, and it follows the coast exactly all the way round – it takes two hours to drive whole thing. The interior mountain scenery is dramatic and very lush.  And the beaches around the coastline are very pretty.  It seems that all the residents live along the coastline with the north/east sides of the island containing most of the population (and tourist activity) and the south/west sides much more isolated and undeveloped.

There is a coral reef that completely surrounds the island, which leads to calm and very turquoise waters all the way round.  There is not much surfing here unless you can get out beyond the reef.  It is amazing some of the little shacks that people live in, that are about 5 ft. from the water’s edge, so we assume no-one is worried about tsunamis or other large wave action!

There is a fruit juice factory but not much other industry that we could see, other than a variety of small businesses looking for tourist trade.

We are very comfortable in our ocean-top bungalow, despite the strong winds. It’s such a gorgeous long view to sit and look at, and then it’s so much fun to just walk out the patio doors onto to the deck and jump into the ocean! It’s nicely located so we can pretend we are somewhere completely isolated until we walk out the back door towards the resort to avail ourselves of the facilities (and food!)

PS – adding a note a couple of days later, because I forgot to mention that the hotel presented a Polynesian Feast this night, with a seafood buffet, Polynesian music and Polynesian dancing!  All outside on the beach.  The buffet was very extensive with all sorts of seafood including sushi and sashimi.  The music was basically ukulele and drums with traditional songs in the Polynesian language.  The dancing was actually really amazing.  It is absolutely gender specific, with the women doing very sensuous movements of hips and arms and the men doing very assertive masculine stamping of feet and taking up of space.  To see them together really highlights the different bodily structures of men and women! They finished off with their famous fire dancing which was also very visually arresting.  Fun evening.

 

A Few Lingering Thoughts on Australia

  • It is definitely a continent, not a country. It is huge.  Five weeks were not remotely adequate to see it, and I don’t think even twenty-five weeks would be enough.  Our time here felt like a bit of a whirlwind, trying to get to too many different places in too short a time.
  • That being said, I really wish we could have seen more!
    • Perth and environs, including Margaret River and the Pinnacles
    • The Gold Coast
    • Lots of other places that we heard about or just passed through briefly, including Broome, Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane.
  • Much like Canada, the different provinces (or territories, as they’re called here) are very unique and can experience quite different vegetation, scenery and climate at the same time of year.
  • Generally though, the climate is much more temperate, without the extremes of the Canadian winter.
  • People’s accents also vary quite a bit – they are all basically Australian but some pronunciations are harder to understand, probably similar to the way our Newfie accents sound compared to central Ontario. Peter found some people almost impossible to understand (like Josh, our kayak guide.)
  • They use some unusual words which are probably derived from English slang, but which we don’t ever hear at home.  The only example I can think of at this moment is “swimmers” for bathing suits! But we often heard or read things like that in marketing literature and from tour guides.
  • I think Australia has done a better job of recognizing and integrating the Aboriginal legacy.  I know they have the same history of attempting to eradicate the original culture that we have in Canada but there is more evidence here of current attempts to explain and promote the Aboriginal history and traditions.
  • Given the Australian dollar is basically on par with the Canadian dollar, we found all areas were more expensive than what we would pay at home for comparable lodging and restaurant meals.  However goods in stores (groceries, clothes, etc) were usually less expensive for equivalent value.
  • Australia is high on everyone’s travel bucket list (like ours!) so there are generally a lot of tourists. Fortunately we didn’t experience the same omnipresent tourists as we did in New Zealand but we strongly suspect that is because we were travelling off-season when the northern part of the continent is still quite hot and recovering from the rainy season.  Downside of that of course is that the infrastructure (and tourist services) were not fully up to speed for us.  It was a trade-off we were both prepared to make!
  • My favourite spots in Australia were Sydney, the Bungles and Hamilton Island.
  • Peter’s favourite spots:  Tasman Peninsula, Litchfield Park and the Bungles.

Moorea, Tahiti – and it’s still Fri April 24th!

I should really should have included Tahiti in the title of this blog, but it kind of ruins the flow so I left it off! But now I feel guilty about that since we are definitely, happily, here in Moorea, a small island about 25km away from Tahiti.

And we sure got a lot done on this day.

We left Brisbane at 8:00am, flew to Auckland where we sat in the airport for 4 hours, then flew for 5 hours from Auckland to Papeete, Tahiti.  We slept and breakfasted for about 10 hours at our hotel in Papeete, then took a ferry from Papeete to Moorea, checked into our resort and our AWESOME bungalow, swam in the ocean two or three times, wandered around for a couple of hours, did computer stuff for a couple of hours, went for a nice dinner, and we are now back in the room and it is still only 8:15pm. (If only I could have accomplished this much in 12 hours when I was working.)

We started at 8:00am today about 14 hours ahead of Toronto time.  And now we are 6 hours behind Toronto time.  This international Date Line thing is just way too hard to figure out – even my Dad has volunteered he doesn’t quite get it. To me, it just illustrates how arbitrary our definitions of time actually are, but we all adhere to them rigidly and so they work.

Meanwhile, we have this awesome over-water bungalow where our deck is actually out over the ocean, with steps down into the water, or we can just dive right in.  We can sit in our living room, or out on the deck, listening to the surf on the reef out front, and enjoying the wonderful sea breezes. Tonight we treaded water in front for about 15 minutes watching the sun set over the ocean.  And it looks like we can actually snorkel right off the deck –  we saw 5-10 very colourful types of fish in just a short time. The bellman who brought us here with our luggage mentioned that we might want to snorkel here but we really thought he was exaggerating!  Guess not.

I’ve had two worries about our stay in Moorea.  The first was that I’d be so ready to get home that I would be frustrated being stuck here for 6 days.  Well, that’s not going to happen!

The second was that our stay on Hamilton Island was so awesome, I worried Moorea would be a letdown. Again, not going to happen.  The two stays will be so completely different that a comparison is not even possible, and it will be very easy to give them both 10 out of 10!

Truthfully, my body and brain are really starting to complain about all the travelling and time changes over the past 8 weeks so I’m hoping I can get in some good seaside R&R while we’re here.  But what a challenge it will be to fit all of tomorrow into only 24 hours…

IMG_3528[1]  Peter taking in the view from our seaside deck!

 

Fri April 24 – The Lost Monday Returns

Disguised as Friday….

We fly from Brisbane at 8:00am today and spend about 12 hours in total travelling (including a layover in Auckland) and we arrive in Papeete,Tahiti this same morning at 1:00am.  It’s a brain teaser trying to wrap my head around it!  Will have to see if we can feel it or if it’s purely and completely theoretical.

We are flying Air Emirates to Auckland and Peter is very excited about flying on an Airbus 360 which I gather is very big – more precisely, it’s the world’s largest passenger plane.  So that should be an experience.

Will be back in touch after we’ve boated from Papeete to Moorea where we’re staying for 6 nights.  Our mobile Wifi device will no longer work there but our resort apparently has Wifi everywhere so hopefully I’ll be able to post while we’re there.