Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh to have all mornings like this

My coffee soaks up vanilla as I watch another morning unfold. I can't seem to get the mixture of raw vanilla and sugar right. So much stress. The Devil twists up a couple of smokes. "Guy" comes in with a personal message for me to deliver to the mayor of Maupiti.

I ask for my bill and I get in a fight with Anna. None of the food is on it. She simply says "all of that fish is for my family". As if that explains it. Of course I should be a part of her family after knowing her for 4 days. Ingrid later said that Anna thought I was kind. Sucker.

This isn't my reality, "I got it on loan". But for this moment, I know a peace, an acceptance, a happiness, and a tranquility that surprises me. I can't believe I am leaving today. Crap.

And over

I've just taken my lab requisition for blood work and given it to Anna's child in the form of a paper airplane. He seems to be obsessed with such things, and I am reeling from the symbolism. The joy from pain, flying the only proof that such a fever rocked my body so cruelly. Ingrid and I howl as Goldfish1 and Goldfish2 leave on a scooter. The kid is giving that piece of paper the "what for" it deserves. I'm drunk. Le Diable donné moi une bouteille de bordeax sont tres bonne. I get psyched out as the kid flies the paper plane through my almost ipenetrable defenses. It has already been enhanced with pictures of hearts on the wings. Aimé brings out a massive plate of swordfish sushi. All I can eat. What a place.

Anna selects and books me a bed in Ra'itea without asking. Aimé tries with some success to make the kid thank me for my aero gift in English. I am happy. I teach the kid how to flick beer caps. I learn my third Tahitian word "AITA" = "No". I feel like some sort of terrible uncle. Ingrid gives me a new flower for my ear and also presents me with five buds wrapped in a banana leaf for later. Ingrid takes a beer cap and puts her hands behind her back. I successfully convince the kid that his original choice is erroneous. The wonderment when I am right! Score two for me with the kid. Then the little bastard cheats. How dare he hide the beer cap in _neither_ of his hands !!!? I thrash him within an inch of his life. Anywho, the next 30 minutes or so are variants on a similar theme. Cheaters, every last one of them :) I am seriously worried that I am coming down with something bad. I don't even like kids.

Every woman who passes gives me a kiss and every sweaty hand out there wants to shake mine. People come and go and time slides by like forgotten silk. We go out for a couple of Maitais and I lay my weary head to rest. Another day in Paradise.

Aimé tried to get me while I was out. They wanted to have me over for dinner. Of course.

Monday, June 25, 2007

My cup spill'eth over (Fare, Huahine)

I really don't have enough words to describe today. My fingers can't type fast enough, my brain can't process the information with enough speed. I wish I did, because those last two sentences suck.

This post has been trapped for a couple of days, as I want to to do it justice. I unfortunately am going to have to resort to a description of the "headlines" so that I can get this, the most important local description of what I have experienced so far, into the books.

I don't really know how to spell his name, and I apologize in advance for masculine/feminine or other errata (I am still reeling from the Michelle / Michel debacle that my Frenchie French friend Liz pointed out to me). Stephan is German. I met him in the communal kitchen of the guest house playing Texas hold'em with trivial pursuit cards as chips. This was just before I slaughtered my new Swedish friends with a higher than thou strait. We have a fair bit in common, he's a 30 something burn-out too. After finishing his PHD in artificial intelligence, he sold his "tiny" stake in the company he was working with and is off to figure it all out. He also lost 20 pounds of geek fat. He also was on the brink and got a wake up call, although his is much more severe. His 28 year old workaholic friend died of a massive heart attack. Stephan had met Ingrid the previous day and that's when things get interesting.

Ingrid is hard to explain. She is a 60 year old woman who took us under her wing, for no real reason that I can ascertain. She has the biggest pearl I have ever seen hanging off her neck, which is apparently smallish for her. To me it looks like a Superball. She always wears a hat with a fresh floral arrangement from her huge garden and somehow, without anyone seeing her, she magically appears with a different flower behind her ear 10 times a day. She knows everyone and everything in this place. She took Stephan and I on a tour of the island with her friend Aimé (Anna's husband).

Aimé and Anna
They run the guesthouse. They also took me under their wing for no reason that I can readily figure out.

The four of us piled into Aimé's car and laughed our way around the island. I finally learned how that damn vanilla is grown! We went to Anna's parents house to stock up on mangoes and papaya, bananas (reason #1 why I will always be alone is that the only reason I know how to spell bananas is from that song "Holler Back Girl" and have to sing it every time I need the word on paper. How lame is that?), and frozen fish heads to feed the eels (yes). I left as a beast of burden, with my pockets stuffed with vanilla pods to boot. What does someone actually do with 6 huge vanilla pods while living out of a gym bag?

62 acres
The size of prime beach front land that Ingrid's mother owns that we passed along the way. BEAUTIFUL.

Fresh water moray eels
I didn't know these existed. The Morays that I have seen in salt water are lime green. These ones were more of a black and had eyes of a very deep, pale blue colour. There was a little stream and you could almost charm them out of the water by playing fish head tug of war. We petted them, which was just about as disgusting as it sounds.

After a lap of the island, we headed back to the guesthouse for a couple of beers. Aimé was going to cook us up something special, as he is a little bit of a Chinese cookery master. We sat around chatting about all the great stuff we saw that day and the hits just kept on a coming.

Rainbows, dirt bikes and smarmy dudes - oh my!
It rained on our parade and, of course, an intense rainbow appeared over the hills. A kid lazily pulled 150 yard wheelie down the main drag on his dirt bike, and the local millionaire porn photographer minced in with an (almost) 18 year old Tahitian princess. I thought that this stuff only happened in movies. He was 50'sh, had a long, luxurious mullet and red, mirrored sunglasses. I heard stories of the morning line up of hopefuls standing outside of his gates for "inspection". They sauntered off arm in arm with ice cream cones to do whatever it is that photographers and "actresses" do at noon on a Saturday. I couldn't quite figure out if he was movie porn, or postcard porn, but I digress.

And more beers
We needed to wait for lunch and Aimé brought out some marlin poisson cru and a special home made sauce as an appetizer. There was a fishing derby the day before and Stephan pulls out a photograph of a 60 kilo fish hanging by its tail. Aime informs me that this is the actual fish that we are snacking on as he bought 10 kilos of the guy. (Seriously good eats)

Ingrid again
She has led a pretty crazy life. She was in the running for Miss Tahiti when she was 18 before she was almost killed by eating some sort of poisonous fish. Her sister was Miss Tahiti, her first husband was tied to (part of? We couldn't quite figure that out) the Swedish Royal family, her second husband threatened to kill her and she had to flee to Hawaii for 4 years, her mother is 84 and her grandfather lived WELL into his 100's (she said 118, but I think I might have that wrong, lets say "old"), she used to surf and fish constantly (even when she was 6 months pregnant), she drinks like a fish and eats wasabi paste by the truckload. I kind of wish that she was 30 years younger.

The Devil
Our table was a little bit of a revolving door as people came and went to pay their respects and join us for a drink. One guy with a seriously raspy voice sat down with a sparkle in his eye. He almost had his head taken off in a motorbike accident and he has some obvious lasting vocal problems as a result. The doctor said that he must be the devil because he should be dead. We also met a descendant of Mendelssohn and so many personalities that I can't capture them all (nor would anyone want me to, this is a seriously long post already).

Lighter girl
Ingrid presents us with a gift of a Huahine lighter with a naked girl on it: her niece. Of course. Ingrid scolds Aimee as only a matriarch can do for commenting on her attributes.

Chow Mein
Lunch. And more poission cru. Deeeelicious. And full. SO full.

"Pussy woman"
The literal translation for the name Huahine. I guess those pesky missionaries didn't get here in time to circumvent that little mishap.

270 km/hr
Stephan and I were swapping stories as an attempt to try and explain to each other our progress in trying to figure "it" out (whatever "it" is). I was saying that I had nothing to go back to, that I didn't have a love life/property/car/clothes/a job, but I wanted to go "home". He agreed and had felt the same. Later on, he said something that I admired, I think it spoke to an integrity and a self awareness. He said "Mike, I didn't have the courage before to say it, but I didn't sell my car."

Stephan - I know you plan to see this one day. I am serious about dropping by the autobahn for a ride in the "Monster Mini", as long as you promise it won't be too touristy ;)

There are two strange people in the guesthouse as well. A weird Belgian dude and an Argentinian surfer girl. Lets just say that their short term memory is so gone that they might actually have no present. Stephan and I sat there chatting and every 5 minutes or so, one of them would ask a question like "Where are you from Mike?" 5 minutes later the other one would ask "When are you leaving?" 5 minutes later "Mike, where do you come from?" and on and on and on. She asked me how old I was and I said 80. She thought I was serious (well at least for 20 seconds more than she should of). I labelled them goldfish1 and goldfish2 as they can't remember the last trip around the bowl. Stephan had invited the Belgian to join us on the tour originally, but he declined as it was simply "too touristy". They are definitely burned, but they can't work for our new company.

Burned Out International
As we forced ourselves to snack on the biggest Papaya that I have ever seen in my life, we had quite a good time talking about starting a business together called Burned Out International. A business where people are happy, that is fun and that produces something tangible in the end. Then we decided that a better working business name is 2Papayas. (Damn-2papayas.com is taken). Obviously need some fleshing out to do here.

It was a good day. I wish that it wasn't so darn touristy though. What an idiot.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I like it in the Huahine and I don't care who knows it

I ended up getting on the flight. I forgot the "island time" aspect of life down here. I got admitted to security 5 minutes before the plane was due to take off. and then boarded 15 minutes after it was to have already been gone.

Landing in Huahine was fun. You walk off the twin otter and onto the tarmac. There was a 10 man drumming band and about 5 greeters. Two luggage carts got pulled in by hand and stuff started being thrown onto a table. The drumming started getting faster and faster and everyone was worked into a smiling frenzy. I think that on this trip so far, it was probably the closest that I have come to a "savage" experience ;) The music stopped and then the dudes all climbed in the back of a pickup truck with all kind of flowers attached to the sides and two huge flags. They drove off into the night hammering on the drums and bamboo xylophones. Good start, but I had to ask myself "what the heck just happened?"

I'm glad to be rid of Papeete. Papeete is a big urban centre. Its got regular urban stuff going on. Its one more place that I can say that I've been to, but its one more place that I wish I wasn't forced to spend so much time in. I learned this before and its all too familiar (Bangkok, Hanoi). You can't get anywhere without going through the hubs in places like this. Invariably there are going to be a day here and there while waiting for connector transports in order to "see the town". They are like public toilets. Now there are some nice toilets out there, but you don't carve off 3 days to make sure that you get the "full toilet experience". Seeing the toilet is just something that's going to happen during the regular course of business. When you find yourself in one, you get in, do what you have to do and then get the heck out of there.

The night out on the town in Papeete: Take a smelly basement type place, play cheesy euro dance LOUD and then take $13 out of your wallet and buy a small bottle of beer. Don't make eye contact with dudes, as you are always one hair away from getting into a fight, and for the love of God don't go anywhere near their property (women). Or, if you want to get off the beaten track a bit, you can get fondled by ugly transvestites 4 blocks over for only $7/beer.

Don't mistake me, I'm not a prude. I've sought out, been a part of and born witness to some pretty harsh shit in my life. Its just that this stuff is just so fucking boring now. Its the same thing all over again, just a different hell hole in a different corner of the world. I used to think that kids twitching in corners (big crystal problem in Papeete) and odd "big city" stuff were fun, and somehow made me feel hardcore. I don't feel exotic, I don't feel on the edge, I just feel worn out and that I want to be somewhere else. I am getting old. Me = Jaded and self righteous.

Now the market is nice, the food is delicious, a few walks around the place to see whats going on is time well spent, the cafes are great people watching and the vibe is raw. OK - 1 afternoon down. I don't have enough time to get sucked up by this urban sponge and that's not why I'm here. But time goes under the bridge and suddenly you've been in the toilet for a week. It smells, your legs are asleep and its dark. The "skin" of Papeete is too thick for my calender and will right now.

I'm not being entirely fair, I was pretty ill through most of my time here and I did go into some bars / cafes that had more of a fun, down home atmosphere. Its just that they all had a bad vibe / mix of drunk and high smarmy dudes. I also came across a bunch of folks with a sound system and DJs spinning on a side street. Now this was fun and its one nighttime Papeete experience that I am glad to have been a part of. The hipsters, the wanna be's, the hippies and the break dancers were all there just listening and dancing to some softer, electro flavoured house beats. It all had a lack of sophistication around it which I really enjoyed. French Polynesia is France and although its not my cup of tea, I could / would never call the French house scene "unsophisticated". It was just fun listening to some party music, with dudes doing one armed handstands by the light of the parking garage lights and others learning to spin fire while everyone threw their party arms solidly in the air without a lot of pretension.

(note: my eating was still screwed up. I went to McDonald's the next morning to try to get something to stick to me and I saw one of the DJs from the night before with a hairnet flipping burgers. We gave each other "the nod". Small world)

My strong recommendation to anyone visiting Papeete for less than a month is to leave as quickly as your mode of transportation will carry you. You don't have time to find what you think you will get out of it or it is not there.

Now if Papeete is thick skinned, the island of Huahine has no skin. The folks here have their arms so tightly around me that I really don't know how I am going to be able to leave. More on this to come.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Don't leave your crap on public Internet terminals

I could write a book on the personal photos and letters that I've found on the computers I've been using. This one was from a pile of photos taken of "Loanna" on someone's boat on April 27th. This fits in nicely, as Matt wanted some more TnA on the site - sorry it took me so long to comply.

[If you are Loanna and you would like me to take your photo down, please let me know ;]

1000 pageviews

This Internet thing continues to amaze me. I should tell people about it, I think it could catch on.

I'd forgotten that Google was checking up on things around my blog. For something which is only barely marginally interesting for people who know me, a fair number of people have found their way here.

Welcome: Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga, Papeete, Etobicoke, New York, San Jose, Sudbury, Montreal, Grande Prairie, Scarborough, Waterloo, Ottawa, Paris, Kitchener, El Paso, Washington, Chicago, Richmond Hill, Atlanta, Rochester, Quebec, Barrie, Zagreb, Valdivia, Mexico City, St Louis, Burlington, Milton, North Bay, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Cairo, Orlando, Elliot Lake, Lima, Phoenix, Adana, Long Branch, Lisbon, Reading, Thames Ditton, Clearlake Oaks, San Diego, Hamilton, Leaside, Denver, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Peterborough, s Hertogenbosch, Tai-Chung, Cambridge, Santiago, Reigate, Albuquerque, Charlotte, Pearl City, Reston, Buffalo, Halifax, Jakarta, Dorval, San Francisco, Papeete, Mansfield, Kanagawa, Bucharest, Zaventem, Dublin, Izmir, Gloucester, Oklahoma City, Porto Alegre, Houston, Keene, Moscow, Rotterdam, Richmond, Bilbao, Charlottesville, Pleasanton, Kalamazoo, Manchester, Miami, Kuantan, Bangkok, Minneapolis, Goteborg

I'm sure the two people from Hertogenbosch (wherever that is) have enjoyed my complaining greatly.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Waiting for something to happen

On standby and have waited 3/5.5 hours so far to hopefully be on a 25 minute flight. Like all things here, the economics of this place seem suspect.

Google: Why the hell do you not store the preferred language in the blogger user profile? Every time I log into the site, it takes the local language settings from the terminal... its all in French and I have to select English. It can get much worse - I was on a Japanese character set computer on a dial up modem and wasn't familiar where the language setting was. It took me 20 minutes through trial and error to be even able to read the dashboard. You owe me $7.

The recent changes with the language drop down are helpful, but I think this issue needs to be fixed.

Props to the props and the hookers were spry

When I grow up, I want to be a hooker.

Actually, I don't want anything to do with being on a rugby team. I'm especially wimpy today. If someone handed me the ball, I would lateral it so quickly it would make your head spin. Id be all about "I'm rubber and you're glue... actually, I don't care what the fuck you are... take this and don't give it back to me. ever." The team sponsor could have contests: Provide photographic proof of Mike Reid actually holding the ball and win a free Tshirt.

I think I have this foreign land, public event timing down. Buy ticket. Ask three people how long it will take to get to the venue. Take the mean and the square of the square root and then go whenever you want. Man was I early. It started late and then over an hour of opening ceremonies. How an "at least an hour" walk turns into a 15 minute stroll I will never know. The tournament was fun. It was mini rugby though, although this was my first ever rugby display so I'm a bad judge. It was "sevens" which I am not really sure what that means, but I have seen bigger rugby players. Somoa slaughtered Tahiti 47-7 in 20 minutes of play. NZ, Tonga, cook islands, Fiji etc. did their thing. I was pretty tired and kind of confused frankly. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't really know the rules.

Also took a stroll down to the marina to sort out a stack of travellers cheques that I was given without my name on them from Chris. The mega yachts are amassing for the July festival. Its fun to see helicopters magically appear from below decks, or hatches that open up out the back and shit out Sea Doos. Don't kill the boat that lays the golden Sea Doo my pappy always used to say.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Off to see what professional rugby is all about

Dudes here are big and they like the sauce. Sure hope I'm not wearing the wrong coloured shirt ;)

Second blood test today. Will let you know. I feel fine, just tired.

Tomorrow I'm going to get out of this town for a few days and lay around on a beach. That's the ticket.

Forgive me Mother, for I have sinned

It has been over three decades since my last confession. I have taken the lords name in vane, one.. no two, Jesus - I bet ten thousand times. I have had impure thoughts towards women (except on the boat, as that was NOT a sexy place). I have lied, although I tried not to. I don't believe in the father, the son or the holy ghost. Most egregiously though, I have caused my friends to unwittingly participate in competitions of swine. You see Mother, I was weak. Me and the swine have a special relationship and he had forsaken me during my long days at sea. I asked 10 of my friends to write an Ode to Strip Bacon so that I may longingly nibble on their kind wordy gifts to slake my unearthly hunger for the magical animal. Knowing that at least two of them would be too.. ahem.. busy for my trivial needs, I was surely to be left with eight contestants. I put their names in a hat and set up a single elimination, three round, head to head competition. Now I understand why the demonic, winged David with a sling shot of fiery damnation was sent to slay me for my hubris.... It should have been a round robin. In any event, my little ruse was cut short after but one round of literary tastiness. Oh the succulent loveliness that came back... Except for one person who I will not name here (Roisin) who got absolutely destroyed by her opponent (the table) for her decidedly tasteless response:


B for bum fat
A for aorta blockage
C for colon cancer
O for organ failure
N for nasty

If I wasn't on a French keyboard right now this nameless person would get a tongue lashing1

Fair is fair though, even you can see that? Well, probably not.

Anywho, the winner of the first and last The Cloven Word: Literary Donations for lonely sailors to chew on (now with 100 percent less sodium) is Jeh.

Ode to Strip Bacon

O strip of bacon,
you salty tidbit.
I can't stop eating you
thou art the shiznit.

O strip of bacon,
you metero yuppy.
You multi-task my meal,
you are the king of my suppy.

O strip of bacon,
Other dishes tremble at your might,
Yet you crumble in my salad
no need to put up fight

O strip of bacon,
you the king of the snacka.
A condiment and a meal,
a sidekick and a hero, like the mighty Chewbacca.

Jeh will be enjoying something special from Tahiti, brought home with special love. This special something will be made even more special as soon as I liberate from its special hiding place (store). I sure hope its special.

I love my friends.

Thanks to everyone except for the one person who tried to rain on my parade (Roisin). BOO.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oh... and...

With all the other crap going on, I forgot to congratulate myself on quite a bit of sailing.

4265 miles in my non existent logbook.

Yay me!

Because when you are sick, you have nothing better to do.

Caught up on Gillian's blog. (Fine work G). Here's hours of fun filled entertainment:

Instructions: Google "[yournamehere] likes to" (keep the quotes!) and note the top 10 results.

- Michael likes to be needed.
- Michael likes to work with people and is very good in math.
- Michael likes to play basketball, and soccer.
- Michael likes to take a stuffed animal dog around with him because "someone special" gave it to him.
- Michael likes to have between 2.5 and four hours (the fee is the same regardless of the length).
- Michael likes to sing, play the drums, and write his own songs.
- Michael likes to work with ideas.
- Michael likes to be around people.
- When meeting women, Michael likes to tell them that he's Chinese, as a sort of "intelligence test," to see how they react.
- In his spare time Michael likes to spend time with girls, especially Robin.

I don't know who Robin is, but I hope we have fun together.... and that she needs me.

Yogis do it with picnic baskets

Was archiving some old emails and some things ring true now, more so than when I got them.

My friend Gillian had some sage words passed down from her Yoga instructor.

"Planning is priceless and plans are useless."

I tend to get that backwards. Plans abound with no planning (just ask my poor father, Barry). Doesn't really work out for me.


I can't thank her officially as she will disown me, but there is someone who I owe my deepest gratitude to. She is the nicest and most sincere person that I know and generous with me to a fault.

I would have gone insane without knowing that someone that I trusted firmly had my back and could capably tie up my considerable loose ends.

I would have gone insane if I stayed in Toronto for another moment.

Thanks. I owe you.

Base from your face: London

I had no Idea that Tricky's "Black Steel" was a cover of "Black Steel in the hour of Chaos". Props to Public Enemy.


I bottomed out at 179lbs. That's 4lbs heavier than I was when I got back from Asia in '98 which was the lightest I've been since I was 18. I don't feel particularly thin, but I certainly don't feel "strong". I ended up staying 3 nights in that hotel. Cheapest I could find @ 14000 XPF ($165 USD). It was above a disco on the first floor. You could listen to the late night partiers punch each others lights out in between throwing up. Had to spend 2 nights on the boat to pack up my crap and clear up the cash etc. Ordered a "Royal with Cheese" thinking that it would help get me back to some semblance of a normal eating schedule through "comfort food". Wrong - unless my plan is to become bulimic. Monday was my first day without codeine and the first day that my fever was under 100. On the mend at least. I am off the boat forever and am checking out of the Sheraton after a couple days of R&R to sort myself out before seeing a bit of the islands. I'll be home for the first week of July for a few weeks before heading back out to Asia.

See you all soon'ish.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I would have made it if it wasn't for those damn kids.

I'm going to regret this; as soon as I am well. I need a plane ticket in my hand to appease immigration that I am not here to stay. Its $500 cheaper to fly to Toronto than Bangkok. Last night was the bale of hay that broke the camels back. My reserve tank is empty and I can't take enough codeine to make myself feel human. I am going to take a vacation from my vacation and see what Canada is all about for a bit. I hear its cold up there, good thing I have some snow skis in storage in NY state.

This trip is supposed to be about doing what I want to do, not how much pain I can endure which has been considerable.

I hope I am making the right decision, but thats why they pay me the no bucks.


To anyone who might have been thinking of getting this as their first mosquito borne illness: DON'T. It is a particularly nasty piece of work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tell him what he's won Jack!

Well, Monty. For his efforts, today's contestant has won a case of Dengue Fever! He will be the "Toast" of the town with other tourists all a "flush" with envy.

Otherwise known as break bone fever, this tasty little treat of an illness is characterized by very high fevers, blinding headaches with excruciating muscle contortions that should be fun for the whole family.

As an extra added bonus, the contestant may also enjoy a swelled face, a measles-like rash and any combination of a dizzying array of pleasant symptoms to brag to the folks back home.

Congratulations Mike! You really cocked this one up.

I'm going to spend a night in a hotel, SOMEONE on the boat is keeping me awake all night long with pathetic sobbing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Island'd out? (Moorea, Society islands)

I don't really know what to say. I am drawing a blank. This whole blog thing was never supposed to be about work and this is the first time that it feels so. I have nothing on my computer and nothing in my diary. Lets go pointform:

- Moorea is beautiful
- Nearly broke my back on a walk into the interior, but saw some cool stuff (like how pinapples grow).
- Anchored off the Bali Hei (3 dudes cut free in the sixties.. invented the over water bungalow) I kind of felt guilty shaving in their washroom like it was some sort of sacrilidge.
- Paid $50 for 2 hours of Internet on a Sunday. (I will be giving the world a pointed rant at some point in the near future on prices in all of the Polynesian islands)
- Took Chris out for a proper birthday dinner (happened while at sea)
- Walked a crap load and ate extremly well.
- I'm tired and spent. Time to move on, which has been aparent for some time and I have said or hinted at a dozen times so far I am sure.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Ocean VI - Redemption: The Final Chapter

Beautiful sail. Thank you ocean. The boat behaved like the regal lady she used to be and the wind was on the beam and strong. I slept and even had a time on a starboard tack (I fell into the side of the boat instead of falling into the middle). What I thought the whole thing was going to be like.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Reef Island (Rangiroa)

Booked a trip with 6 100% french speaking people to see the reef island. A natural phenomenon 30 km across the lagoon of Rangiroa. A seriously good wheel man on this speedboat. The fetch of the lagoon creates a fairly large swell towards the middle, but he navigated superbly. I always have respect for people who can thread the needle on fast speedboats in waves without breaking the backs of the passengers.

Pretty lonely. My feeble attempts at French where not received warmly, it only served to speed up their idle chit chat. Tourists in Rangiroa are fickle. Whatever - everyone has their own thing going on and most of the time it is staring mooney eyed at their new partner in the eyes of God and slapping each other in the ass while polishing their $400 sunglasses.

Don't know what I was expecting, but it was interesting. Strange tidal pools with 6' lava formed clumps in between. Not sure how else to explain it. Waded around and snorkeled in amongst the shallow water. Walked through the ocean to a Motu (small island) where the guide's compatriot was waiting for us with a prepared picnic (poisson cru, bbq'd fish, bbq'd chicken, coconut bread, fried rice - chinese style, awesome meddly of freshly squeezed juices, wine and a coconut pie for desert). Yummy.

30 clicks back across the lagoon for a bit of snorkeling in the crotch of the pass. Shocked at how frustrated I was. Here I am in a world class diving centre, after having sailed through several other world class diving centres, watching in stark non amazement as a bunch of 4 inch fish froth over bread that has been thrown in the water with six people that I can't communicate at all with, squealing in delight All this while the BBC is anchored 200 yards away filming a documentary on the mating habits of sharks. I stopped by a dive centre (this was their kit). Someone mentioned that there were 3 film crews on Ragiroa at around this time because it was so "special". ARGGGGGGGH.

Breath... Don't walk in like you own the place and don't squash a story retold with wild eyed amazement.

Good day out. I'll stop being a baby, its just so damn hard.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Odd Photo

This isn't a slight on my travelling companions, but I find myself letting my guard down a bit when I only have myself to worry about. Or maybe its that I don't have any one's opinion of me to uphold but my own? I think I am more to hop a fence, try out some French, turn down a back ally or get lost on purpose when there is no need for discussion about "what do you want to do?". I end up in odd situations that are probably what I am going to remember most from this trip.

This is Michelle. Michelle est fou. I learned strange things from him. Like there is a town in the southwest of France called Condom. I tried to tell him about going to Intercourse, PA on a family trip. It was tough going and unfortunately I left him with the impression that somewhere in the States there is a town called "Fucking". I guess this is how rumours get started. I gave up on the idea of explaining Blueballs, Pennsylvania. I would have been there all day :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Don't you know who I am? I've been thrown out of far better places than this! (Kia Ora Hotel, Rangiroa)

The Kia Ora hotel is the most expensive around these parts (which means a LOT of cake) and is NOT Yacht friendly. I don't blame them I guess, but after spending an obscene amount of money on a massage and lunch, I thought that I had earned an evening of peace at their beach bar away from the boat at least. I put on my best clean clothes and wandered in to watch their tourist display of "traditional" dancing. I was met at the dock by a surly security guard and escorted to reception. There was a cover charge for non guests. OK - that makes sense. After some wrangling, they allowed me in. As I was walking away, I was asked where my shoes were. Ooops. I guess nighttime rules are different than the daytime. I said that they were in the dingy (they weren't) and that I would get them. Went to the bar and ordered a fancy cocktail. 15 minutes later the bar got a call and the bartender looked at me like I had 9 heads. 5 minutes later he got another call and he looked at me again and said that reception wants to know if I had put on shoes. The gig was up. I said that they were on the boat, he said that he would have to go and get them for me. I explained that they were on "la grand bateau" and that I wouldn't take the dingy out in the pitch dark again. Another call. I was requested to leave. Hmmm. I only had a Visa card. The bar then explained that because my $16 US drink was under the minimum that I would not be able to pay with my card. I looked at him like he had nine heads and asked him what he would like to do about this situation. I had to be escorted to reception again (Oh the embarrassment) so that they could process my pitiful bill and ridicule me properly.

As it turned out, I swallowed my pride and went back again a few days later. Same clothes, but with shoes. Reported smartly to pay my cover and brought plenty of cash for the insanely priced fare. Everyone was a little bit more friendly this time and I had an enjoyable night writing out postcards and seeing a talented (although cheesy) dance troop doing their thing. Live and learn I guess.

My Back Hurts

I am embarrassed to say it, but I am absolutely dreading going back to sea. I find that it takes a few days to get back in the groove, but we have been getting these "false starts" almost by doing a bunch of night runs between islands. We have had some bad luck so far, here's hoping for a nice jaunt.

I'm going to miss long swaths of time that I can think trivial thoughts to death. Like the fact that I've moved exactly 30 times in my life into 25 different places. Yes, I counted and it took me almost all day to remember the locations of some of the more forgettable tenements (and I've live in some - like the place with a burned out car in the parking lot, or a 2 inch cockroach floating passed my mattress on the floor during a flood) , I moved back into a couple of places during school, and yes, I've moved into and out of my parents more than once (you want to make something of it?). I decided to define a "home" as a place that housed my home computer for at least a month, with an area that I slept in most of the time. This got me to thinking - I have never bought a bed in my life. I bought a futon mattress way back when - that sort of counts, other than it sucked. Everything else has been a hand me down or a loaner. Wait... I was gifted a new mattress once, but it met a terrible end one evening when I woke up with mice nibbling through it from the inside out. I have never owned a bed frame or a box spring. Aside from the odd charity and the odd hotel room, I've been sleeping on a variety of especially evil doing contraptions for 8 months so far. The inflatable mattress with a leak, the 4 and half foot long Ikea couch that I bought off an old client for $100, the couch that you sank a foot into, but was unevenly "worked in" and for the last 3 months - a six foot long, 4 inch foam bunk (which covers my length, but is only 2 feet wide and likes to move around alot). Its pathetic. It was never in my top 25 priorities apparently. Why is that? why is my back hurting? Not very Maslow'ian of me.

Mission number one, once I get a place to live of course, is a proper bed. I might stay in it for a month. I find myself fantasizing of Egyptian cotton. Its not sheep, its a thread count when I go to sleep (ever so clever Mike - clap..... clap..... clap).

Its time. I'm going to become an adult. That's it, aside from a reef tank, some proper cookware, some new clothes and maybe some new tech... and a car. But then that's IT. I don't want ANYTHING else in my life. Everyone get ready for round 2 of the Mike Reid virtual garage sale. oh - and a sailboat, skateboard and a house. but that's really really it.

Dreaming of World Famous Diving off my doorstep (Rangiroa, Tuamotos)

14 58.107 S
147 38.151 W

I don't mean to complain about sailing. When its been uncomfortable, I've tried to convey how it felt to Monsieur Blog, but its a very difficult thing to relay. All I will say about this 110 miles is that the day sailing was great and the night was the most uncomfortable that I have been... ever. This means something coming from me. There was one evening that I hitchhiked from Caledonia to Waterloo and dozed in a country side ditch propped up against a backpack. There was one night in a backwater guesthouse that I woke up sweating profusely from the heat and got up to see a black, shimmering outline of my body on the sheet. Thinking it strange, I turned on the light to witness a perfect outline of my body scribed by black ants. Nothing to do but sweep off what I could and lay back down. Would have gladly transported myself to these or any other slice of uncomfortable past.... anything but this boat bobbing around like a top.

The pass was ridiculous (abnormal winds out of the south that caused waves to tumble into the lagoon, over the "sides". Too much water in the bathtub when the tides pull the "stopper" out). I had become somewhat blasé on the whole pass thing, but this one set me right. Had some pretty big green waves over the side as it was, not sure what would have happened if we lost the battle against the current and went beam to the surge. Would have been ugly. Threw out the genoa to get a couple of extra knots when it became clear that the engine wasn't up to the challenge and squeaked through in the end.

Forgive me my attempts to describe some of the stuff that I am going through (good and bad) and they surely come across as dramatic ramblings, but they actually have happened (I couldn't make up some of this stuff if I tried ;)

Rangiroa is the most turisted island, which is still a far cry from what I would say is "Touristy". It is built up though and has the most infrastructure that I have seen in almost 3 months.

My French is getting better. Today I sat at a small snack with Walter and was able to have a real conversation around normal everyday life with the owner. Mutual understanding - what a treat. He ended up being able to speak English quite well, but that's neither here nor there :) Moonshine from a 2 gallon plastic jug never tasted so good.

Going to leave on Thursday, hit Moorea on our way to Tahiti for the 12th. We'll take a week to get the boat cleaned, start to get sorted on some more repairs, make some plans and I'll launch the 3rd part of my trip on the 19th. First plan is to put Mike into a hotel for 2 nights.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Cleaver of Damocles (Toau, Tuamotos)

15 48.213 S
146 09.141 W

Another unpronounceable Atoll. I can't get my tongue around all those vowels strung together. Toe A Ooooo?

This is a "false Pass" the difference here is that it is like a pass, but then it doesn't go all the way through. There is almost a pool after the reef break, but not quite in the lagoon. Its pretty cool. We got met by a couple in a speedboat who wanted to show us where they had put some anchoring buoys out (this anchorage is a really tight space and there were 6 other boats there, so it is prob a good thing that they put them in, otherwise we may have not been able to stay. I get my neck up in situations like these, where my spidey sense immediately asks why people are being helpful. In this case, they were being helpful because they wanted us to come to their restaurant outside of their home. Not in the smarmy I did you a favour sort of way, but in a nice exchange of pleasantries sort of way. Not that they needed to worry, there is no other place to go. Period. They are the only game in the one family "town". The cynic in me is starting to resurface from time to time. I am torn about it when I am wrong, but it has served me well in dodgy situations in the past. Mixed feelings about it.

Dinner was AWESOME. Valentine and Garstone (sp?) put on quite a spread. Parrot fish breaded in coconut and fried, poisson cru (my new favourite food), BBQ'd lobster, rice, clams, chicken in a coconut milk sauce, varo (a very tasty and strange lobster like thing that I don't think you can get outside of here) and topped off with a coconut cream pie. These guys are a little bit of an institution among yachties apparently and the anchorage is quite famous in these parts. They have quite a niche, a beautiful location and welcoming personalities. Garstone agreed to pick me up the next day to go snorkeling off of a coral head that was nearby with a 10 FOOT manta that liked to glide around it. It wasn't to be however, as the wind picked up
quite a bit in the morning and by the 3 o'clock arranged time it was either a) too rough (which it likely was in any event) or b) he didn't make it back in time from his trip across the lagoon to do some copra something or other. I was disappointed, especially in light of my self imposed moratorium on Scuba diving. Hey - life's full of disappointments, you just have to pick up the pieces and move on ;).

I know why I didn't take many pictures of this place - I left my camera on the boat when I went ashore. It was too bad and nice at the same time. Had a walk among the coconut groves with a rottweiler as a guide. He liked to run about 50 yards up the path and wait for me. If I took too long then he would come back and nudge me along. I turned around at one point and he was there in a flash to suggest that I keep going. We ended up in a shallow bay and the dog went nuts - leaping and thrashing and pounding around the ocean after what I assume were some very fast fish. Laughed out loud by myself again, which is happening more frequently than it used to (never). It was low tide, so I walked back in the the ocean with the freaking out dog coming in and out of the picture from time to time. Lots to see in the foot of water.

Whats a family of piglets called? A snout of pigs? Anyways, 3 massive pigs tied to trees who could barely stand up to greet me with a dozen or so piglets infused with the vigour of tasty youth. They pressed their wet noses to my legs and sniffed like only a pig could do then proceeded to rut around in the mud. The centre of their piggly dance was a well used chopping block with a massive cleaver stuck in it. Disturbing, but I kind of envied them for being so unaware. Then I thought that maybe they wouldn't notice a missing hunk or two if I was quick with the cleaver and really, I should do them all a favour and teach them to fear their deaths properly. Right... time to move on.

Tomorrow we are leaving for Rangiroa at 6 or 7am to be at the pass hopefully at 6:30am on Sunday, but we probably won't make it until later in the day, prob 12pm or some such thing.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Cottage Fever

Cottage sale closed today. Strange that I will never see the place again and odd that if I went to take a peek at the old girl, I would be trespassing on land that I used to own (at least in part). I can now say that I have gone through a cycle of real estate. There will be none in the future that will hold so much emotion (buying, owning or selling). I still find myself looking around and saying "wow that would be great at the cottage". I need to stop that. Bitter sweet.