Tales from the South Pacific
Monday, May 23rd - Moorea
Today was the 4x4 jeep tour... but not until the afternoon, so what else to do? Well, spend the morning on the beach! We have a feeling we could get used to life in the islands! The sun was coming in and out of the clouds, so it was a good opportunity to get some color on my front side to offset the bright pink of the back. The strategy worked, by the end of the day I finally have some noticeable tan lines... and no burn!
The jeep tour got off to a little rocky start after we had a little disagreement with the hotel concierge with whom we booked the excursion. Ultimately, it ended up being a bit of a language barrier issue -- that our little credit card receipt was the "voucher" we need to present to the jeep tour guide. But if you believe the stereotype that French people are rude, snooty, and superior-acting... this woman would have done nothing to dispel that... and we thought that even when we were booking the tour with her, let alone when we had this minor fracas.
We joined three other couples on the jeep, which made for a bit of a tight fit. We lost one of the couples who ended up being Italian... the rest of us were Americans and the jeep tour guide wasn't fluent in Italian (or Spanish, which the couple could also get by on)... so fortunately for them there was another jeep behind us that could deal with their language needs. It is amazing the number of people we ran into... tour guides, hotel staff, even "regular people" who were multi-lingual... but one thing all these people had in common... there were NOT Americans. Really makes you feel a bit inadequate to only know one language!
The 2 American couples we ended up on the jeep with were quite friendly... so it was nice to have some conversation (with no language issues!) with some other folks for an afternoon. The two pairings were pretty much the typical American couples here in French Polynesia... middle-aged financially successful (she a lawyer, he a business owner)... and a pair of young-ish honeymooners. In a case of "It's a Small World," the honeymooners both were fairly recent MBA graduates from ASU (where I rec'd my grad degree) and were married in Sedona (though they live in Redondo Beach, CA).
The first part of the jeep tour was the most harrowing... a trip up "Magic Mountain." This was true 4x4 action with all of us being tossed and rocked from side-to-side as we ascended a dirt, rock-filled, not very wide, and very steep "road." The turns were also very tight... which required the driver to back up (do kind of a K-turn) and re-position the jeep to get around the bend. It was amazing how high up we got so quickly... and I wasn't convinced this little 'ole wire fence would keep the jeep on the mountain.
I know this sounds like exaggeration, but there were many times when all the couples locked concerned looking eyes. We all knew that this tour runs every day (and multiple times per day)... so it must be "safe." But we did get into a discussion of how it was odd that we didn't have to sign any waivers. But we continued on... at times the brakes squealing and the smell of burning rubber as the jeep got temporarily "stuck" in a hole. We asked the driver if we should get out, until he was able to work it out... as if the jeep suddenly escaped the hole and his foot was full force on the accelerator we would have definitely been going over the edge!
We made it to the top and we were rewarded with the, as promised, magnificent views. The guide said they call it "Magic Mountain" because of the view, but I am thinking they may have borrowed the name since the trip up (and down!) the mountain was pretty much akin to a amusement park thrill ride... kind of a like a real "Indiana Jones" ride... except that it was all real.
A view of Opunohu Bay and Mt. Rotui atop "Magic Mountain"
One of the "passes" were the ocean breaks through the coral reefs and into the lagoon (actually I think it is vice versa... the lagoon breaking into the ocean). Around the pass, you can see where the waves break well off the coast line.
Next post: The jeep tour continues...