01 July 2012 | Fakarava, Toumotus
So this is where black pearls come from!
Things That Have Recently Come To My Attention and Oh So Fabuloso Fakarava
Can you tell I had A LOT of time to think on our e x c r u c i a t i n g l y long four day passage? So here goes;
The farmers of America have been holding out on us Americans by not growing Pamplemousse – the MOST delicious grapefruit type fruit you have ever had in your entire life. (Even if you don’t like grapefruit, which Larry doesn’t, he swears you’ll love these.)
The Food and Drug Administration might just be holding out on something also; we are not sure why but aspartame or Equal or whatever you call it is not available ANYWHERE in French Polynesia. Meaning, much to Larry’s disappointment, Diet Coke and the like, is simply carbonated water with caramel food coloring (ooohhh – that’s what “sans sucre´means). Seriously, it is the worst thing you have ever tasted. (Larry now makes his own secret concoction of half regular coke, mixed with the “sans sucre” coke and a packet of equal – which we are about out of because you CAN’T BUY IT ANYWHERE HERE!) Now, this can be a messy endeavor, especially on a moving boat, but alas – seeing Larry go through a diet soda withdrawal is far worse. Getting back to the no aspartame thing…is there something someone is not telling us? I haven’t been watching Dr. Oz lately – which takes me to my next revelation –
I CAN live without TV! (Remember the Direct TV satellite dropped its signal half way to the Galapagos?) And so can my kid! (It just tickles me pink when Ben, in his spare time, picks up his guitar and jams away, then lies down with a good book and reads.)
I have also come to the realization that we probably are eating a lot more bugs then we have realized. And I don’t just mean us…I mean ALL of us. We just happen to live in the exact right environment now for them to blossom in the sealed packages that we buy. Can I say, “Euuuwww”! I now look very closely when I open things to try and detect any sort of movement. I really don’t want the extra protein, thank you.
So on to fabuloso Fakarava! Faka whata you say? Awwwwww…we have found paradise, people! This place looks just like the pictures in those glossy brochures you see in a travel agency, or a magazine, or a calendar - of blue sky, turquoise water, and palm trees. In three years this is the first place I have thought, this is it…I could possibly live here.
Our entry through the north pass was a piece of cake. It was so benign I, the one who was keeping an eye out on the bow looking for coral bombies which if hit can do serious damage to the bottom of your boat if not sink it, finally went back to Larry at the helm and asked, “When are we going through the pass?” He laughed as we had passed through awhile ago. It was that easy and mellow and wide. As someone has said, it is a pass into an atoll with training wheels. (Note for you cruisers: I don’t mean to make light of any entrance to an atoll. You do want to take care to time all passes at slack, and do realize the conditions on the outside can make a difference as well.) Once inside…feel that?...Exactly! No more ocean swell. Flat calm. And this is when your eyes start to adjust, seeing new colors you have never seen in your whole life. Brilliant colors, (Crayola, you have missed out). Who knew there were so many shades of blue and turquoise in the water, enhanced by the white sand and lush tropical green of palm trees, and bougainvillea, and hibiscus. Who knew the sky could show so many different hues of purples and pinks at sunset? Who knew that when a white bird fly’s over the lagoon it’s underside turns turquoise from the reelection of the water. It is true eye candy. And who knew a rum punch could taste so good. When I say I wish we could share this with all of you, I sincerely mean it. Get here. Any way you can - if you like this sort of thing. If you like diving or snorkeling in water so clear it looks like you are staring in an aquarium window, this place is for you.
After a few days, a few snorkels off the boat to a reef nearby where Ben and I saw our first two sharks (no I didn’t freak out), two giant rays, and a myriad of colorful fish and coral, a cheeseburger in Paradise for Ben and Larry, a shopping spree for me stocking up on black pearls, a movie and play date with some of the local kids from the island on our boat (they were wild), and a (finally) fantastic meal at a gorgeous tiki torch lit restaurant including mesclun salad and coconut profiteroles (are you kidding me?), we shoved off for the southern part of Fakarava – a much more secluded area of the atoll but famous for doing a drift snorkel or dive through the pass on an incoming tide, (therefore you are not at danger of getting sucked out to sea). We actually sailed the whole five hours in perfect wind and flat water. THIS is what sailing should be like all the time, (I could totally lose that ocean swell thing)! Well, little did we know, that every year on the first full moon of the first Tuesday of the first decade of the first century (okay I’m exaggerating a little) in the month July, the Grouper come here to spawn, therefore attracting the biggest, meanest, largest number of all types of sharks to be seen in the area. “Huh,” says I trembling. Yeah, the gals shoot their eggs and the guys shoot their sperm and the water sort of looks milky and the sharks have some telepathic knowledge that this is going to occur ahead of time and they plan a convention here because supposedly after the female grouper has released her eggs she goes into this state of relaxed euphoria (yes ladies this is what you are supposed to feel after a great session of lovemaking) for approximately three minutes giving the sharks enough time to have quite a feast on the stupor’d fish…breathe. In other words, it’s a total food fest. Yah, needless to say we opted to stay out of the water that day thinking it was a good idea to just let everybody calm down here.
Ben however, has had plenty of other things to do as we have been adopted into Manihi’s family. Manihi, a man who seems bigger than life, who is a gracious host, father, and grandfather, who could be a Ricardo Montalban clone including the whole, “Welcome to Fantasy Island” thing, being the owner of the resort Motu Aito Paradise firstname.lastname@example.org – www.fakarava.org, a pension (bed and all three meals included instead of a bed and breakfast because there is nowhere else to go here for your other meals). Actually Manihi’s line is, “With Manihi, ALL things are possible.” Once again this is a cruiser known place, because Manihi is famous for his special fish pizza nights he puts on for cruisers. I know, fish pizza just sounds wrong, but cruisers seek out pizza of any kind, anywhere we travel in the world and I have to say this is really good. But what we didn’t know was that Manihi’s daughter, husband, and two grandchildren close to Ben’s age were visiting here for the summer, and boy did they hit it off. What kid wouldn’t have a great time in the coolest place in the world, water included? Swimming, snorkeling, trips to the local bird island, spear fishing, skurfing, a visit to a pink sand beach, movie nights on our boat, these are just some of the things that have occupied Ben’s time here.
Well, after several days of the most incredible snorkeling, we will leave with all four limbs. Please enjoy our photos of this beautiful atoll (in the gallery titled “Fakarava”) although they do not do it justice. Sometimes there are things in life that you just have to see for yourself, and this is definitely one of them.