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February 10, 2020
Moorea: “I Touched an Eel!”

Russell writes…

There are 118 islands in French Polynesia, divided into five groups. Nuku Hiva was in the Marquesas Islands. Fakarava was in the Tuamotu Archipelago. We have now arrived at the more familiar (and more touristy) Society Islands. They were so-named by Captain James Cook in 1769 because “they lay contiguous to one another.”

Our first port today was Moorea, located 11 miles northwest of Tahiti. Where Fakarava was flat and almost invisible against the horizon, Moorea had 4,000-foot peaks that seemed to leap out of the water. It is 52 square miles and has a population of 16,000. It is much more developed and has a healthy tourist infrastructure.

The view from our veranda this morning

Gail boards a tender

The view from our tender (you will need to scroll left and right to see all of this panorama!)

Gail and Happy the Hedgehog with the welcome committee

We only had half a day here, and we spent three hours of it on an excursion. The “Aito Off-Road Safari” put us in a caravan of four-wheel drive vehicles. We needed them, as we were often on unpaved and very dicey roads. The excursion took us to several scenic points, including Belvedere Lookout and Moorea Tropical Garden. We also saw a pineapple plantation and Manutea Tahiti Distillery, where they make pineapple juice and spirits. At the Tiki Village Cultural Center, we didn’t get to see any dance performances, but were instead ushered into a shop.

Our four-wheel drive truck carried seven passengers plus the driver

We needed 4WD for this terrain!

We were disappointed that half of the excursion was to shopping sites. But the other half was to some of the most breathtaking scenery we’ve ever seen. The highlight was when we stopped at a river to feed and see freshwater eels. The way the caravan proceeded, our truck ended up in the middle of the river, where no one could exit the vehicle. No one, that is, except Gail – who took off her shoes and socks and simply waded into the river. She was thrilled and excited that she got to pet several of the eels, which were velvety soft.

A worker cuts pineapple. He needs to wear arm-length gloves, as pineapple leaves are serrated like sawblades and will cut you to pieces

We got to taste fresh pineapple, right off the plant!

Gail met this adorable little French Polynesian baby girl, who was showing off her three newborn puppies

“I touched an eel!”

We were back aboard ship in time for a late lunch. We are departing Moorea at 5:00 this afternoon. The ship will backtrack an hour and a half back to Tahiti, where we will arrived at our second port in one day. We will spend the night in Papeete, and many passengers who are not world cruisers will disembark tomorrow. More about that in our next letter!

This is where we were anchored today. You can’t beat that!

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