Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 6 - The Tour

We have learned a few things in the last few days as well as come to some conclusions. First of all, we finally came to the conclusion that Moorea pretty much shuts down with the setting of the sun, at least for the most part. This is also why the islanders get up so early, too. There are no street lights to speak of on the island with the exception of a couple of very brief strips near the resort areas, and those really only go for a couple of blocks. So it is pitch black once the sun sets. Plus, there really is no night life on the island, so aside from the barking dogs, occasional car and the stupid roosters, it is pretty quiet after dark. We have been eating dinner about our normal time (6:30pm or so), and as soon as we clean up from that we find the darkness just sucks the life out of us!

One thing we have learned is that there were no cemeteries on Moorea up until 5 years ago. Because a lot of the property on the island has been owned by a single family for so many years they simply bury their dead family members on the property. One would not necessarily consider that any big deal, but the problems that do arise come up when the house goes to be sold. Having someone else’s dead family buried on your land seems to be quite the turn-off to potential homebuyers and, therefore, it can be quite difficult to sell a house because of it. This little factoid came up yesterday on our tour of the island, which was one of the best things we have done since we arrived.

Our tour was with 3 other couples (all French), most of who spoke English quite well. Our guide (also French) was kind enough to lead the tour speaking English but took the time to cover the details in French as well when necessary for the couple whose English was a bit weak. Each couple followed single file on our 4-wheel ATV’s behind the guide as he paraded us all over the island! We took a tour up into the center of Moorea, which is in fact one giant volcanic crater. We made stops all over the place getting all kinds of information about the plant life, especially the fruit and trees. First of all, I did not know that the Pineapple is native to Brazil, and if it is growing in any other place than that it was obviously introduced at some point in history. There are also Fir trees on Tahiti that were introduced by the Europeans way back when specifically so they would be able to have wood with which to build homes.

We stopped at the Agricultural School of French Polynesia along the way and were treated at the juice bar. I had a big glass of pineapple and grapefruit juice, which was fantastic! The grapefruit here is different than in the US. It is the same as the Pommelo (spelling??) of South East Asia, which is similar in size to our grapefruit but green on both the inside and outside. They also make jam out of pretty much everything, including the Tahitian Gardenia and Hibiscus flowers, which we also sampled. It was actually more like honey than jam, as it was thin and runny.
Our half-day adventure continued up and down mountains with various stops along the way to take snapshots. The views of the canopy, the crater walls (mountains), and the ocean bays were just breathtaking. We took a ton of pictures! And it only rained on us for just a moment at the top of one of the mountains, so we had a perfect day for the tour. It was quite the experience and we are so very glad we booked it.

I have to say that I did hesitate for just a second when I took a look at the seat on the ATV and thought it was going to be hard as a rock. Don’t forget, my butt was beyond sore from yesterday’s bike expedition! But, upon sitting gingerly on the seat, it was soft as a pillow! Aaaaaahhhhhh. Thank goodness!

As the tour ended at lunch time, we came back to the bungalow for a bite to eat, and then (delicately) hopped on the bikes and headed down the street to the beach to soak up more sun. The beach was completely empty. We were it! There was one Tahitian gentleman that made a brief appearance with his two dogs to take a quick dip in the water to cool off. His dogs took advantage of the water and quick roll in the sand (to help get rid of the bugs, I am sure), and then they all disappeared leaving us with a couple of hours of total silence on the beach.

After a big plate of spaghetti for dinner, I tried to read for a bit. Gulliver’s Travels is an extremely entertaining book, at least in my opinion………I suggest you pick it up at some point. But, as much as it held my interest, I was exhausted from the last two day’s adventures. I could not keep my eyes open and proceeded to hit the hay at 8:15.

I mentioned to Adam as we were lying in bed that is seemed unusually quiet that evening. No dogs barking, no birds chirping, no roosters crowing……nothing. Not 30 seconds after I said that there was a major altercation between two of Laurel’s dogs right outside the fence that set off the entire dog population on the island! Once Laurel separated her dogs, you could hear barking and howling from every direction that took several minutes to finally die down. Once it did I was out like a light!
I did wake up to a torrential downpour at about 4:00am though. It was crazy!!! It lasted for quite a long time, too. Over the next couple of hours it died down and came back in several waves, finally stopping just after breakfast. Today was supposed to be Adam’s tattoo day, but that has now been pushed back out to Thursday, much to Adam’s dismay. Hopefully the rain clouds will continue to retreat in order for us to take advantage of the peaceful beach.

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