Letters from the South Pacific • July 31, 2021 & Aug. 1, 2021

Letters from the South Pacific • July 31, 2021 & Aug. 1, 2021

A big part of this vaca­tion was get­ting away (get­ting real­ly far away) and relax­ing, so yes­ter­day and today have been a real plea­sure. No tours. Just pure and plain relax­ation, with a few spe­cial events.

Yes­ter­day, we enjoyed an ear­ly break­fast, fol­lowed by a morn­ing and ear­ly after­noon in the sun on the beach (with sun­screen for me). Stephen doesn’t need it. Then we did a lit­tle sou­venir shop­ping (and picked up mos­qui­to spray!). Let me tell you. Tahi­ti has those lit­tle “no-see-em” mos­qui­toes and they ill eat you up! Our first clue was when we found an elec­tron­ic mos­qui­to repeller inside our suite and one of those incense type repellers on the lanai. Sec­ond clue came in the form of bites! Yikes!

Good News!

The hotel gift shop, far from deny­ing the mos­qui­toes, had quite a selec­tion of mos­qui­to repel­lent. And it works. Between the incense and the repel­lant, you can enjoy the out­doors, and open the indoors up to the out­side with­out being eat­en up by mos­qui­toes! It’s the lit­tle things, right?

The sec­ond item of note yes­ter­day was the Poly­ne­sian Buf­fet Din­ner with Poly­ne­sian Dancers. Poly­ne­sian food is sim­i­lar in some ways to Hawai­ian food, but very dif­fer­ent in oth­ers. Pork and fish both play a big role, but pork is not only roast­ed but also cooked into a stew with local veg­eta­bles. And the fish. It is served cooked, but also raw, and the raw vari­eties are deli­cious and quite diverse. They serve a vari­ety of raw fish sal­ads, one of which was sim­i­lar to the one we had on our tour the oth­er day

. Oth­ers were done with Octo­pus, shell­fish and mixed fish. Still oth­ers were served like sashi­mi. All of them were quite deli­cious. Adding to the ear­ly Poly­ne­sian dish­es are the ones that came in as a result of both French and Asian influ­ence. Rice is com­mon as are dumplings and dim sum. There are also lots of cheese dish­es, both cooked and served as cheese plates. And of course there were the desserts! The desserts were absolute­ly deca­dent, and hard to resist (we real­ly didn’t, although we sam­pled and lim­it­ed our sam­pling so we were not com­plete­ly mis­er­able. The meal, although served buf­fet style, was not like a Hawai­ian luau. It was sim­ply a won­der­ful pre­sen­ta­tion of tra­di­tion­al Poly­ne­sian foods.

Let us Dance!

The “show” after din­ner was some­thing we almost passed on, hav­ing seen one too many Hawai­ian ver­sions. But because our tour direc­tor told us the dance group was hers and she danced with them we decid­ed to stay for the show, and I have to say it was a pleas­ant sur­prise. Poly­ne­sian dance, at least to me, seemed much more about shar­ing their cul­ture and less about being a shoe. It did not feel com­mer­cial, and it mixed the male and female dancers much more than any­thing I’d seen before. Over­all we stayed longer than we planned and enjoyed the show.

I have to digress here for a moment to say that there have been mul­ti­ple times when vis­it­ing Hawaii (which we love), that we have felt less than wel­comed by the natives. My sense is that they have a very pro­nounced love/hate rela­tion­ship with tourism. Here, at least to date, I have felt none of that. The Poly­ne­sians with whom we have inter­act­ed have been gen­uine­ly gra­cious and inter­est­ed in shar­ing their cul­ture with vis­i­tors. I also felt a much more suc­cess­ful blend­ing of the French cul­ture with the Poly­ne­sian cul­ture than I have ever felt in Hawaii between Amer­i­cans and native Hawai­ians. It would be a fas­ci­nat­ing study to com­pare the two his­to­ries, because the results, at least from my expe­ri­ence, are so vast­ly dif­fer­ent.

Today, Sun­day, has been a lazy day for us, most­ly spent at the beach soak­ing up the sun and/or enjoy­ing the cool waters of the lagoon.

Tomor­row, we leave for Papeete for one night before head­ing over to Bora Bora for our last leg of this jour­ney. It’s been so won­der­ful so far, and I am def­i­nite­ly not ready for it to wrap up. I am anx­ious to get to Bora Bora, where we have one of the huts that have been built over the lagoon itself. I real­ly can­not wait for that!