Sorry for the long radio silence. Turns out that paradise doesn’t include internet. Plus, Rob and I have been a pretty distracted the past few weeks. Why?
Because we’re in love. Giddy, giggly, bubbly blissful love. Not necessarily with each other, though our giddiness certainly overflows into more hugs and hand-holding. Rob and I are in love with the Tuamotus, the volcano atolls that formed rings of shallow coral in the middle of a deep sea. We’re in love with green water, blue hues, white sands, fringing coconut trees, tiny purple fish, giant psychedelic clams, sea cucumbers as thick as my leg, stealthy sharks, flying manta rays and diving fairy terns.
During the year before we left, Rob and I had a little tradition. Some nights just before we crawled into bed, exhausted from a day of playing, working, and living fully in Missoula, we’d pull up Google Earth on the laptop. We’d huddle close to the screen and zoom in on islands and bays we hoped to visit on our voyage. The ones that called us back time and again were the strange-looking thin circles in the middle of the Pacific: hollowed-out islands that looked like a lifesaver or a really skinny doughnut. But instead of a cream-filled center, these narrow coral islands encircled marvelous blue-green lagoons, teeming with some of the richest marine life on earth. The Tuamotus.
And now we’re here. We get to spend every day inside of Google Earth, and it’s way better up close. We snorkel before breakfast, and then head to shore. I dance in front of some coconut trees, and watch Rob stalk the white sand flats with his 9-weight fly rod, playing with sharks, bonefish and jacks. “Isn’t it awesome?” he calls over his shoulder as we watch a pair of trigger fish mow down on some bait fish. “It’s like hunting, but in the ocean.” Lunch break consists of tuna on crackers, some raisins and almonds, and coconut water straight from a fresh-plucked nut. Then it’s on to more snorkeling, fish stalking, or beach-combing and biking with the local kids.
These islands are why we wanted to leave our beloved mountain home, why we left good jobs and great friends in search of unknown shores. The French sailboat anchored in front of us in Kauehi City (a village of 200 people and 2 roads) has been here for over a year. I can see exactly why, and would probably do the same if French Polynesia wasn’t strict about stowaways in their gorgeous, coveted country. If you’re not a citizen of the E.U., the government only allows you to spend 90 days in French Polynesia.
Unless Rob or I suddenly fall in love with a Tuamotuan or a Tahitian who wants to marry one (or both?) of us, we only have until the end of August to indulge our love affair with these spectacular coral atolls. Which means it’s time to stop writing and dive overboard to caress the psychedelic clams and majestic mantas again.