Did you know….the number of annual visitors to French Polynesia in a year is equal to the number of weekly visitors to Hawaii?? That is amazing! Yet, we bumped into several people who think nothing of flying from the West Coast to Tahiti, just an 8-hour flight. One was a man from Colorado, who is bringing his two teenage daughters here several times, each time for just a few days, to get scuba-certified. Others fly here just to take a cruise around Polynesia, and then fly back to the US.
The overwater bungalows were “invented” in Moorea in 1967. A failed vanilla plantation was developed into a resort called Bali Hai Boys, and they built the overwater bungalows for guests, a concept that has since been used around the world. Another fact, interestingly, is that there is no Tahitian word for “please,” since people here share willingly with no need to ask!
We spent a week in Moorea, and Mike went diving twice with the same company (Nemo’z Diving). They picked him up at the door of our hotel, and he saw loads of huge turtles, a few moray eels, a few sharks, and a few trigger fish. In one of our posts about Bali, Mike said the only time he had ever wished he had something in his hand to defend himself while diving was when he encountered a Titan Triggerfish off the coast there. He had never heard of them and was swimming along minding his own business when a colorful, two-foot long fish started to come at him, trying to bite him with its huge, weird-looking teeth. Not having anything to push it back, he put his fins between them and swam quickly away. Mike, not knowing that the triggerfish has a defined territory, swam back into it and (unhappily) repeated the encounter. When he got to the surface, he asked his dive guide, who was laughing uproariously, “What the hell is that fish’s problem?!” Mike later found out what it was and that they are known for biting divers’ hands or portions of their ears off when they wander into its territory.
When Mike stepped on the dive boat here, he saw the poster (in the photo below) about triggerfish, prominently mounted on the boat. The dive guide briefed all the divers about them and talked about how the triggerfish protects its brood of eggs on the seabed by chasing off any intruders, but was calm and nonaggressive if it wasn’t protecting eggs. The guide told the group that if a triggerfish got aggressive, just put your fins between you and it and swim quickly away. In the meantime, the guide would intercept the fish and try to intimidate it with noise and movement. That sounded fine to Mike, as in the only encounter he had with a triggerfish, the intimidation went in the other direction. A couple of triggerfish were spotted during the dive, but they ignored the divers. Apparently they were bachelors.
Unfortunately for Jan, she is a “Mosquito Magnet,” and if both of us were sitting out on the deck eating, all the mosquitoes would bite her and totally ignore Mike (unlike trigger fish). She has 27 bites on one leg, 19 on the other, and several on her arms. About half of them developed into welts the size of a quarter! All of these bites came after using an ointment that was 80 percent Deet. And the clusters in the bend of the knee are especially annoying, as each step squeezes them! Consequently, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and even walking outside, were out of the question. When not in the car circling the island, she pretty much quarantined inside with some well-appreciated air conditioning. Even so, some mosquitoes got into the room at night – once again, they favored Jan and ignored Mike! It is a gorgeous island, but most every accommodation is along the beach, where there is also a lot of vegetation. Resorts do spray to achieve some mosquito abatement, but we read that mosquitoes can “sense” their desired flesh for biting from about 150 feet away, so – they clearly had the upper hand!
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