Monday, June 28, 2010

Tahitian Time

If there is one island in the entire world that comes to mind ahead of all the rest as an exotic, dream vacation in paradise it is Tahiti. A wide stretch of white powdered sand, the endless aquamarine ocean before you, a cabana, an umbrella and your loved one at your side there was simply no more powerful image of getting away from it all than two weeks in Tahiti. I didn't have two weeks or a loved one but I went anyway. A co-worker at the time had connections with the airlines and I was able to score tickets for a dream come true weekend in the South Pacific.

I was looking forward to the flight on Air France as much as the destination and they didn't disappoint. After take-off the flight attendants changed in to Polynesian outfits while serving a meal of beef in wine sauce that few other airlines have matched before or since. The flight was on time and smooth, circling in to land at Fa'aa International Airport sooner than we expected.

My resort, the Moorea Pearl, was on the neighboring island of Moorea, "The Apple" because of its shape which could be flown in ten minutes or sailed in about an hour from the main island of Tahiti. I had a "half-beach" cabana, one of three they offered for the low-rent tourist. The others were completely over the water and charged accordingly but not so far from land that you were left feeling adrift in the shoals. The landside of my cabana featured an outdoor shower with a privacy wall along with at least one curious lizard sharing a stare with me and wondering who was more out of place.

The patio featured steps down in to the lagoon for a relaxing morning swim but I chose instead to join a snorkeling expedition a few miles off shore. Now this was as close to swimming in the wild Pacific as I had come to that point and was both nervous about the experience and body shy over swimming with a boat load of strangers. I got over both phobias and jumped in to the sea to find the kinds of fish usually seen in nature specials, Pixar films and Dr. Seuss primers. "I saw a red fish and a blue fish and a yellow fish...!"

I used my pigeon French to buy postcards and sat at the bar filling those out while listening to three couples across from me talk about their experiences thus far. One of the guys actually said he'd already forgotten what life was like being single! "Whipped," I thought to myself as I smiled and enjoyed the waning hours of my weekend away from the world.

There are no clocks on Tahiti, or at least in the resorts since you're not supposed to worry about time. I cajoled the desk clerk in to a 6AM wake-up call as I had to get off one island and over to the main one to catch my flight back to Los Angeles in time for work Monday morning. They did and I did.

Tahiti is many things, beautiful foremost among them but one thing it is not is geared for the single tourist. Newlyweds are all over the place, infatuated with themselves and each other and even the locals seem at a loss how to make a person traveling alone feel welcome, always asking where my wife was but I didn't mind. I wouldn't necessarily go back but anyone who asks I just tell them how I saw it.

Gotta go.

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