Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trouble in Paradise

Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora
As it turns out, BoraBora was not the most wonderful place in the world. We actually found it rather disappointing. It is really the reefs with the turquoise water that make BoraBora look so wonderful. The Tuamotu islands are the ones that look like the photographs you see of the French Polynesian islands. That is where the sandy beaches are located.

Names of celebraties who have been at Bloody Mary's.
It must be THE place to be seen!
The island of BoraBora is pretty from the sea, especially when the clouds hover near the top. But the drive around the island was nothing special. The sights shown on the maps are not marked so it is difficult to find many of them. The public beaches are not great either. Many of the large hotel chains own the best property on the reefs so the area is private.

I think we both agree that we would never fly this far for this. We would consider chartering a boat and spending several months in the Tuamotus group. In fact, many of us in the fleet have the same thoughts.
Unfortunately, BoraBora has crime and a number of World ARC boats experienced it. A dingy, a fuel hose, several fishing rods and some other items left on decks at night were stolen. One Skipper was relaxing in the cockpit at 3 am enjoying the starry night when he heard someone board his boat. Fortunately, the intruder jumped off and sped away with out doing any harm. It is obvious that the thieves are rather brazen. We make a habit of putting equipment below when away from the boat and at night.

Then I had an interesting experience with my iPhone. I accidentally left it behind at the Yacht Club of BoraBora. When I realized it was missing, I tracked it with the Find My Phone app. It showed it was at the YC of BB, so I walked several miles to get it. The management claimed they had not seen it, so I showed them the location on my iPad. Much to my surprise, the phone had moved since I started searching for it! The phone's position was across the road from the restaurant.

There was a table of gendarme (police) having lunch and they looked at the iPad. I explained that the phone had moved within the last hour!

They directed me to go to the gendarme station and report it. So I walked two miles back to get Dennis, then we walked over a mile to town to report it. One of the men I saw having lunch came out to assist me. He asked me to show him the location again. This time it showed the phone on the boat - or in the water next to the boat! It had moved again!

I looked at him and said, "I have a very special iPhone. It has legs!" Then I confirmed with him that he had seen it in a different place earlier in the day. He agreed that he had and agreed that I wasn't crazy!

After we walked back to the boat, I found the phone under the table in the saloon! I had looked there before so I know it wasn't there earlier. It is my belief that the word was put out to get that phone back to the owner and while Dennis and I were reporting it, someone tossed it into the cabin through a porthole. I have my thoughts on who it might have been, but I will keep them to myself! Needless to say, it was an interesting experience and an exhausting day!

That being said, the people are wonderful everywhere we go. They are friendly and happy to help. They even offer rides and help you find the services you need - even when we don't speak the same language! The locations where the World ARC holds events have been lovely and provided different cultural experiences.

Most of the islands have a single road around them and we have rented cars to tour. We have seen villages, schools and churches and the neighborhoods where people live. We have stopped to buy fruit and vegetables and baked goods from the stands in front of their homes and even eaten on their front porches. There is a great similarity from island to island.

There are usually no sidewalks along the roads, most of which are in need of repair. We walk to buy goods and reach the services we need. I sometimes smile when I think of how I jumped in the car to go ten blocks to the store! And I didn't think twice about grabbing a grocery cart and pushing it around the supermarket and out to the car. Supermarkets are rare, as are carts. We gather the items in our bags and pay at the counter, the carry a number of heavy canvas bags back to the boat on foot!  This is true in many places, not just Bora Bora.

We might consider the standard of living too low, but the people seem to enjoy life so who are we to judge? There is something to be said for a slower pace and simple life where extended families live in the same villages and share activities regularly. Maybe we in our fast-paced material world are missing out! It is good to see how the rest of the world lives.

If you dream of coming to Bora Bora, have your travel agent book you into one of the major resorts on the reefs and enjoy an escape from your real world. Just don't expect the whole island to look like the brochures!

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