Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bora Bora or the The Island the Americans Claimed as Their Own

Yes, the water in Bora Bora really looks like this. It has an intensity that I didn't see one the other islands I visited. Unfortunately, it is a tiny island in a state of ecological collapse. Half of the hotels on the mainland have closed down and the nice resorts have moved to the motus that encase the tiny island.  This is also where the U.S Navy set up base in World War II. They built the airport, put artillery on the hill tops, tanks, and stored huge ships in the coral ring. The Tahitians said it was the island that the Americans took, because once the war was over the honeymooners replaced the military. 

Seeing the waters here, I understand why it's a dream vacation for so many. I'm sure staying in an over-water bungalow on a motu is a great experience. Especially for a honeymoon. However,this place was the least magical, least Tahitian of all the islands I visited. 

Here is one of the resorts on a Motu. They have artificial beaches, pools, and run on diesel generators. 

This Motu is reserved for the tour group I joined for the day. So you can feel like you're on your own private island. Notice the smooth sand and carefully placed rocks.

Each island is responsible for its own trash which is creating a huge problem here on this tiny island. 

This is what it is left after the usable parts of a resort ware sold off. Many of the bungalows are hauled away and become someone's home. 

Bora Bora has large areas that are mud bogs because it is a sinking island and I was visiting during the rainy season. 

Piles of sand that are waiting to be sent to the resorts. I had to book it soon after I got this picture cause those dogs were trained to go after anyone that lingers too long. 

This is a Marae with a road going through it. 

A U.S military tank. The American tourists love it. 

This is the southern tip of the island near where I stayed. It is the only natural beach on the island.

This is the same beach around the corner from the public area. It made me question the notion of "natural"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Tahaa: A day trip and a rest from hiking all day

This was a day trip I took from Ra'iatea. The islands are super close to one another so it was a zippy boat ride over. Tahaa is mostly vanilla farmers and not many tourists. Also the best snorkeling I've ever seen.

I really loved how joining a tour group gave me a different perspective on what kinds of experiences people have while visiting the French Polynesia. It also reminded me how I was an outsider looking in on both worlds. Neither islander nor tourist. It was deeply lonely and at this point I was terribly homesick which was amplified by the two deaths in the family while I was away. But now I look back on this trip as the one of the best experiences in my life.