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We’re now at anchor near Maeva Beach on the west side of Tahiti. At our stern is the beach where Bob built the first Liki Tiki. Today there is a hotel on the site. A quarter mile from our bow lies the barrier reef with waves crashing day and night. Beyond is an unobstructed view of the island of Moorea. Below in eight feet of water is a sandy bottom punctuated by coral groupings and swimming fish. The water is blue green and crystal clear. In the morning, before the motor boats zoom through the channel beyond our stern and disturb the water, we can watch the octopus, come out of his hole below our starboard railing and feed around the coral. The other day a spotted ray swam by and a few minutes later a large garfish lazily surveyed our hull. We’ve seen angel fish, golden carp, almost fluorescent blue fish and others I can’t name, along with lots of spiny sea urchins with stingers a foot long clinging to the coral. Snorkeling is a joy and we are never disappointed. Once we motored out to the barrier reef in our dinghy, cut the engine and slowly drifted back with the current, all the time hanging over the side and scanning the solid coral masses just inches below the surface. We saw the same fish we had seen near the boat and an occasional smaller version of the giant clam clinging to the rocks and coral. The reef at this part of the island is made up of rounded corals, instead of the branching variety, so it isn’t as disturbed by the fishermen’s who practically walk the reefs at night with their search lights to collect fish and lobsters. We have a ring side view of all of it. Heaven must be somewhere around here!
Let’s see, what else have we done since we arrived? We saw the dance and singing group competition, an arts and crafts exhibit, toured the pearl museum and saw a video of how black pearls are "farmed" in the nearby islands, and Saturday we went to a reenactment of an ancient Polynesian wedding ceremony. I had been rereading my copy of "Mutiny on the Bounty" and had just read Chapter 12 about a Tahitian wedding the morning we viewed the performance. The acting pretty closely followed what we saw, except for the ritual cutting and bleeding of the heads.
With the high cost of everything here, we are trying to save money. I hand wash our clothes on the boat and hang them on lines strung fore and aft. I give the hair cuts. I’ve been doing my own for two years now but just started cutting Bob’s and am improving with each haircut. (This actually began when Bob got a terrible cut at a barber shop in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.) We have found inexpensive foods produced in New Zealand and Australia that are not found in the states, things like canned cheddar cheese that doesn’t need refrigeration and butter in tins. The French bread is so cheap I stopped baking bread. But aside from that, we don’t get our disk film developed any more—they charged us $15 (US) per disk! We saw some compact disks for our player and found the prices ranged from $30 - $66 a CD! So we didn’t buy any of them either.
One local food I love is "Poisson Cru," a kind of Polynesian serviche. You cut a pound of firm white fish into small pieces, add a half teaspoon of salt and marinate in the juice of six limes, a clove of minced garlic, a small minced onion and a cup of coconut cream for about 30 minutes and serve. The restaurants add grated carrot and sliced cucumbers with the onion and garlic. The result is a light cool summer salad you eat with French bread. Delicious! Bob likes it, but calls it "poison." In other foods, the local pineapple is so sweet you don’t need to try the delicious French chocolates, but we manage.
When we are not snorkeling or seeing the sights or taking care of daily tasks like cooking and cleaning and washing and shopping and going ashore for water or to empty trash, I read and write and sew, and Bob pounds away on the computer working on programs and routines in Pascal. I wrote five snort stories during the long passage from Panama and the Marquesas but haven’t decided what to do with them just yet. Bob likes the last three, since they have happy endings. I need another opinion before I send them to anyone for publishing, if that’s possible.
Well, we sail the 12 miles to Moorea in a day or two and visit Bob’s first Liki Tiki which was bought by the Bali Hai Hotel to use for the tourists. Then on to the other islands the group, ending with Bora Bora. We’ll leave French Polynesia at the beginning of September and "winter" (sit out the cyclone season) in American Samoa.
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