French Polynesia

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    • Day 9


      April 17, 2023 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

      Huahine is known as a royal island. The Polynesian kings lived here. The main "island" actually consists of 2 islands separated by a deep, narrow channel except at low tide when they are connected by a sand bar and now a bridge. The channel is deep enough to accept cruise ships up to 3,500 passengers.
      The 1st picture is taken from a viewpoint on the larger island. You can see part of the channel and the smaller island on the distance.
      The 2nd and 3rd pictures are of the royal fale. This reproduction, now a museum, gives an overview of Polynesian life before they abdicated to the French. The 2nd picture is the outside, and the 3rd is inside. That is a 3D representation of the 2 islands in the foreground of the 3rd picture.
      The royal site contains many marae or worship sites. These are leveled stone surfaces with various standing stones. The 4th picture looks across a couple of them next to the royal fale.
      The 5th picture is another mara up hill in the forest. The 6th picture is a banyan tree. If you look closely, another mara is located adjacent. There are dozens of marae around the island.
      The people of Huahine still use stone fish traps such as those in the 7th picture.
      The last picture is of some of Huahine's surprising residents. These are blue eyed eels, a species I hadn't heard of. They are harmless so the local kids play with them. If you look closely, you can pick out blues eyes looking back at you
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    • Day 5

      🛵 Scooter Day 🛵

      July 25, 2022 in French Polynesia ⋅ 🌧 77 °F

      We took our time getting out of bed this morning (guess who was feeling a bit lazy). After having some instant coffee and a light breakfast of misc stuff we had picked up from the grocery store yesterday, we decided to once again ignore the very rainy weather forecast and see if we could rent a scooter to tour some other parts of the island. Unfortunately, the line at the Eurocar around the corner was 6 families deep, and didn't bode well for availability. We didn't want to wait around, so we abandoned the line and instead went down to the beach for a bit.

      The surf was good, and we body surfed for a little while until it started to die down. Emboldened, we grabbed the paddles for a 2-seat kayak and struck out into the ocean. We paddled around for about 10m before the waves picked up again, and we started to get sucked out to sea. We both started questioning our life choices as we battled our way back to shore with moderate effort. Riding a respectable wave to shore, we slid back on to the beach while oozing a sort of "that was all according to plan" aura. While returning the paddles, the hotel staff was less than thrilled that we helped ourselves to the kayak, as they were not renting them out due to the rough conditions (maybe don't leave all the gear laying around!)

      It was time to seek our next thrill, so we went back to the Eurocar and found they did indeed have one small scooter remaining! We snagged it, Laura hopped on the back, and we zipped off. I'd describe our initial acceleration much like our kayak landing. Uncertain, a little wobbly, but surprisingly without catastrophe.

      Since we had only had a light breakfast (and not at all because we couldn't find the damn trailhead) we decided to skip hiking and instead go see some scenic lookouts and points of attraction dotted across the island. The first stop was the sacred blue eyes eels, found in a culvert alongside the road. They. Were. MASSIVE, and not at all like the moray eel I saw yesterday sticking his head out of some coral. Super cool, if somewhat unsettling.

      Next stop was the Huahine pearl farm, a quick motor boat ride east onto a floating hut. They sold black pearls and pottery, but the highlight was the overview of how they encourage the oysters to make the pearls (we were the only ones who spoke English instead of French, so we got a private explanation).

      Finally, we wound our way up the mountain road to overlook the island, and then put the scooter's brakes to the test as we descended the long 30-40° grade road back towards town to secure some simple lunch again from the grocery store.

      We waited until 2pm for the nearby micro distillery to open, where we sampled some phenomenal rums and liqueurs. Laura's favorite was the coconut-vanilla, mine the vanilla or the chestnut. We purchased two bottles as our first souvenirs of the trip.

      Satisfied we had experienced some of the high points Huahine had to offer us, we returned the scooter and spend the afternoon with a nap and some more time reading/swimming at the beach before dinner.

      We ate again at the resort restaurant. Laura tried the coconut-marinated fish, and I had chicken stuffed with chorizo and prawns... Plus some more mirabelle.
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