Monday, December 22, 2008

Tahitian Paradise!

We flew to Papeete on Tuesday, and we boarded the ship, but we stayed in Papeete until Wednesday night because that was officially our first port of call. We did an excursion that day. It was a long bus ride . . . but luckily the bus ride was air conditioned. We met pretty early in the morning and our tour guide was Lasette (sp?) and she was LDS. She took us to the temple in Tahiti and we took pictures, they redid the temple since Grammy and Grandad were there last. The roof is now blue. It was kind of interesting to see a temple in such a tropical place, because the grounds were so different from anything in the United States. Then we stopped at a waterfall park I guess you’d call it, and we took pictures and saw several beautiful waterfalls. It was like something you’d see on a commercial or in a picture. We then ate lunch at this little restaurant that was next to the ocean. There we saw a whole bunch of puppies and were quite entertained by feeding the hungry dogs. We stopped at a floral garden next and saw so many beautiful flowers as well as the bread fruit, the Tahitian noni, grapefruit, and etc. We picked a lot of gardenias, lotus flowers, and hibiscus. There was a tree there too with branches that fell to the ground and we all climbed up them. It was really fun. Our last stop was to a museum, we looked around and it told about the history of the island, it was also really cool because there was a corner of the museum that was devoted to the Mormon church in Tahiti and the first missionaries, and those happenings. We drove around the whole island, it took a while, but it is great to be able to say that we saw the whole thing.

I like the thought process of the next few pictures.

This was when we got off the plane in Papeete, Tahiti.

Thursday we docked in Huahine, pronounced (Who-wa-hee-nee) it was one of my favorite places to be. We went on another excursion, this one my Grandad paid for everyone to go on. We took a catamaran ride to the middle of the barrier reef and went to a pearl farm. It was fun because it’s just a hut in the middle of the ocean, but we each picked out black pearls from the island and we’re getting them for Christmas and we were taught how they harvest and open the shells. It was kind of fun, then we rode a little ways out and we went snorkeling, we saw a lot of cool fish, but I think the fun part was that we were just with our family. After a little while of 50 people snorkeling, we finished riding the catamarans to a private “motu” (island) our guides played Tahitian music for us and sang, while the other guides were getting lunch together for us. We swam in the beautiful water, watched our guide teach us about the many uses of coconuts, and show us how to cook fresh fish. I’ve never been a big fan of coconut, but I really learned to love that and pineapple. We ate lunch on picnic tables in the middle of the water and afterwards we had a fashion show. Our guides dressed all of the girls up in pareos (pronounced Pa-ray-o’s) which you could also call a sarong, we learned the typical Tahitian dance and we paraded around the island wearing the pareos and dancing. It was a beautiful day, the water was so warm and we had so much fun. This was agreeably one of the highlights of everyone’s trip.

Friday we docked in Rangiroa, this was an atoll. It was a completely circular island, and you could walk around the island in about a half an hour. Friday James and I went onto the island and we walked around. We didn’t really do that much, but we found lots of hermit crabs and we saw a whole bunch of dolphins swimming not too far off shore. We really wanted to go out and swim with them, but neither of us had our swimming suits on and we didn’t bring enough clothes to get what we were wearing all wet.

Saturday we spent some of the day in Rangiroa, this time most of our family got off. We had the intention of going swimming. First we passed by all of the huts on the water and we got a tour of them. Some of them rent for $15,000 a night. Holy cow! Anyway then the people gave us a whole bunch of bread to feed the fish. Well we fed the fish alright, then Curt was really hungry and came over to get the bread, but the fish just circled around him so that they could still eat. The water was really beautiful there, it was so clear and shallow. It was amazing! We finally finished feeding the fish and we went swimming and snorkeling. We saw the first sting rays of the trip and got the worst sun burns of the trip! After we got back on board, we started out for our day at sea.

Sunday was spent completely at see, we were heading for Raiatea. We had a sacrament meeting on board, since this was with the Cruise Lady. My Grandad was the featured speaker on board, but it was kind of fun because James and Curt got to participate in it. We spent the rest of the day playing games. By the way, we are a big game family. We played games every night after we had dinner. The most popular games were psychiatrist, the couch game, mafia, and murderer. We played with kids 5 years old and up. It was so much fun, sometimes frustrating, but very enjoyable.

On Monday we were in Raiatea (pronounced Ray-ee-a-tay-a). We had a very animated tour guide who took us up the biggest river in Polynesia and we sang songs and heard about their traditional stories. It was fun because our same tour guide during the day was the leader of the dance and music group who came aboard for a performance for our cruise ship. One part that was also really fun was that we saw a pack of dolphins and they started playing in the wake of our boat, so we drove in circles for probably ten minutes, it was really fun because they were jumping and flipping and riding along side of us- it was really neat. Oh yeah, we were on a Princess Cruise, the name of our ship was the Tahitian Princess. It was kind of a small ship, so it seemed like our family kind of owned the ship since we were a high percentage of the people on board. Anyway we went up the river and then we were taken to another private “motu” and we swam around and we did a bit of snorkeling, but once we headed back it started pouring. Literally the water was coming down, but it was so warm outside and the water was so warm that it was really kind of fun being out in it. We did some shopping after it started raining and we each got our own pareos since we’d just learned how to tie it in about twenty different ways, we bought some Tahitian vanilla, which they are famous for, and some other fun souvenirs.

Tuesday was the first day in Bora Bora, we took two buses, which were basically homemade, they were made out of wood and the nailed benches to the bottom of them and wallpapered the sides and stapled branches of trees to the sides to decorate, it was really funny. We drove around the island of Bora Bora. The people there bury their relatives in their backyards, I guess they never move, but I thought that was kind of interesting. I don’t really remember much else, our tour guide spoke very little English so when she actually said something, I really couldn’t understand her.

Our second day in Bora Bora was PHENOMENAL! I don’t think I’ve ever had a more perfect day. We took a boat out to the middle of the ocean where we swam with sting rays and fed sharks. And really there were both sharks and tons of sting rays. The sharks swam right up to us since we were standing in a line and the sting rays were swimming all over us. We were a little hesitant at first since they were coming right at us, but we were there for about a half an hour and we loved every minute of it. There were tons of sting rays and I wish I had video of all of us because there were about thirty of them swimming all around us. I even kissed one of them! We spend a long time there, but after a while we rode a little ways out, all the while being sung to by our guides (who were LDS), to a place where we were going to go snorkeling. It was the best place for snorkeling we saw eels, sting rays, and so many fish. We did that for a while, and then the kids started jumping of the end of the boat, which basically scared the fish away and ruined the fun of snorkeling. So we drove once again to another private “motu” and this was the most beautiful of them all! The beaches were sandy white, the water was so clear and warm, and it was so sunny outside. Our guides had fresh pineapple and coconut cut up for us, along with coconut bread. It was so beautiful. We swam in the water for such a long time, and we loved it. It was so sad to leave that motu. All 49 of my family members who were there on the trip agreed that this was our happy place! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to beat that day . . . it was amazing.

This was the motu that we spent our time on in Bora Bora. We loved it here!

Our second to last day was in Moorea. Home of Bali Hi (anyone seen South Pacific?). It was so fun, we kept singing the Indiana Jones theme song, because we were riding in the back of trucks, which had benches in them and we were driving about as crazy as the ride at Disneyland. It was so fun though, we drove up the mountains and into a volcanic crater. It was really neat, the crater now is a farm and grows pineapple, avocado, grapefruit, noni, bananas, coconuts, and basically everything tropical. We had samples of everything and I loved it all! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat pineapple and enjoy it ever again. The fruit over there is truly amazing. Another thing that I really loved was all of the flowers. Their flowers grow on their own. They are so beautiful and they smell so wonderful, and since Tahiti and all of these other islands aren’t very high in tourism, we picked basically any flower we saw, and were allowed to. We found very intricate seashells and were encouraged to bring them home. It was really a tropical paradise. I don’t think that I can ever really appreciate going to any beach ever again.

We went back to Papeete on Friday and we spent a lot of time shopping for our friends. We bought a bunch of souvenirs and we just walked around the city, it was the biggest city that we’d been to, but for some reason they were the ones who spoke the least English and didn’t accept American dollars. I guess that’s just how the French are though! Our flight back to the U.S. left at 11:30 p.m. and so we didn’t get into the United States until Saturday, and we flew into Portland at about 5 pm Saturday night, and just in time since they shut down our airport about an hour later because we were in the middle of a snow storm. Talk about polar opposites. Anyway, I know this is really detailed, but I’m trying to remember every little detail about the trip, but I hope it’s been enjoyable to read.


justin said...

SWEET pics guys! looks like you had fun...we'll try to call you guys tomorrow.

Ellsworth Fam said...

WOW! What an amazing trip! Every picture was beautiful!! You guys must have had an amazing time! It looked awesome! & I'm very impressed with the post, it was fun to read!

Alissa Ellingson said...

Wow!! That sounds like it was a trip to remember. You are such a world traveler!

SweeneyFam said...

Wow! What a tropical paradise. That is my dream vacation for sure. Looks like you all had lots of fun. The pictures are incredible. I look forward to seeing even more!

Katie said...

That was a great run-down of the trip!! I kind of feel like copying and pasting most of it for my own records :) It was fun to be with you guys. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!!!