Society Islands Logs
I sit, sipping coffee, in a windy anchorage outside of Tahaa. The intrepid crew have been puttering
about the Society Islands including Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine and Tahaa. These exotic and remote
islands are uninhabited, well not exactly uninhabited, there are about 1,000 wild and exotic
honeymooners. Oh yes, and 4,000 or so expatriate French folk. Did I mention that there are a few
actual Polynesians too?
The high proportion of honeymooners seem to encourage tour operators to spice up the normal
tourist activities. I suppose you have to in order to compete with the other, ahem, most popular
honeymoon activity. Take, for example, diving. You can't just dive, you must also feed the stingrays or
sharks. This results in some, um, different critter behavior.
We, Richard, Jennifer and Terry (our latest visitor) paddled up to a site that is famous for the
stingrays. Tahitian stingrays are largish with long tails complete with requisite stinger. Generally
stingrays do not swim upright. However, when tempted by fish-waving people who are standing about
the shallows, stingrays swim vertically climbing the fish-holding person like a coconut tree. This
results in a weird ray-person waltz, the person squealing in alarm and the ray wishing the person
would hold that fishcicle still.
Since our group are not waltzy kind of people, we hung around the fringes of the commotion. Rays
would glide by politely inquiring whether we had a snack available. Even though we brought no
offerings, the rays came close enough for a touch. They are indescribably soft yet strong. The whole
wing is a muscle so you feel this odd mix of power and gentle.
Later we braved the depths and puddled about diving the reef. The dive sites in Moorea are the
scene of the simply brilliant human invention, shark feedings. Yes, certain people choose to associate
plat du jour with human divers. Sigh.
Apparently the dive master wanders down to the reef with his herd of newly certified divers. The
master has a bag o'chum. No, no, not the recent initiates, the chunks of fish in a bag (well, perhaps
both on a good day). Little fish swarm around and nibble the stray bits. The master (I use the term
loosely since feeding sharks seems pointedly unmasterful) holds out the bigger chunks for the
sharks' grazing pleasure.
Diving one of these sites is peculiar. The minute you descend herds of unicorn fish appear in front of
your mask with expectant looks in their fishy little faces. Imagine a class of kindergarteners fidgeting
at the table, hands folded in mock patience, waiting for their cookies and milk. Unicorn fish take turns
swimming in front of you and giving the begging dog look. "Please, please, please, snacks please."
Soon the more refined butterfly fish join in. They are a tad more restrained. They hang on the fringes
of your peripheral vision like guests at a formal wedding waiting for the dessert buffet to open. "Oh
Marge, I think they have cheesecake!" "Oh, oh do I see baklava?!"
The last attendees are the sharks. They glide by, acting nonchalant, a bit like teenage boys cruising
the wallflowers at a dance. "Dude, hey, dude get a look at that one. She wants me to ask her to feed,
er, I mean dance."
All in all it is a surreal, twisted, Disney meets Dali experience.
Ever notice how much fun commas are? Soon, they will take over, but not entirely overwhelm,
At Moorea we were anchored in a lovely shallow area surrounded by coral gardens. We had just
arrived back from a long, long, long hike up to an archaeological site when we heard a little voice.
"Allo" said the voice. She can say "allo" since she is French-Canadian from anyone else it would
sound affected, however, I am ahead of myself. So, the voice came from a very wet, very pale woman
snorkeling by the side of the boat. Since we often see tuckered out honeymooners we thought we
were being asked to provide refuge to a tourist who had swum out far beyond her abilities.
The voice turned out to belong to Claudie a French-Canadian woman on her way to study
anthropology in New Zealand. The interesting part is she is looking for an adventure along the way.
Mwah, ha, ha, ha. Let's see, shorter watches, shared cooking and she can teach me all about tatoos
and kava ceremonies - score! She is now part of our little crew on a trial period to Samoa. If we don't
kill her and she doesn't kill us (did I mention she came with a machete and a spear gun) we will
continue together to Tonga and New Zealand.