I came one step closer to overcoming my greatest fear today: I swam with sharks! After our site inspection of the Hilton Moorea, we took a lagoon tour with Albert Tours. We anchored the boat in the middle of a shallow lagoon about four feet deep, already teeming with rays and Black Tip Reef Sharks. I honestly thought that this would be one of the scariest moments of my life, but not much could compare to yesterday’s Magic Mountain adventure. The shallow waters and number of people swimming put my mind at ease – the sharks were about 3-5 feet long and just seemed to be mingling around. The rays, on the other hand, were overly friendly. They especially enjoyed bobbing out of the water and latching onto chests. This was not comfortable for myself. It freaked me out every time a rubbery fin would touch my leg or lodge itself onto my back, but the overall experience was actually very cool. Not that I’m going to go cage diving or do this on a regular basis, but I came too far to sit in the boat and watch other people be fondled by stingrays. I had to get in on that action.
Emma has an underwater camera, so she’s got better shots of everyone with the sharks and rays… we’ll have to wait for her to put those up!
After our lagoon tour, our guide, Siki, who looked like a Tahitian version of a Rastafarian, took us to a motu for a picnic. Here he taught us how to make poisson cru, the local Tahitian dish that I tried for the first time at Le Taha’a (raw tuna marinated in the acid of lime and coconut milk)…Siki did not ask for an assistant in this process, he singled me out of our entire group (this was a larger tour with actual guests of the hotels) to help him cook this fish. I got to be a hopefully less annoying version of Rachel Ray for ten minutes (I prefer Sandra Lee).
In the process, I found out why I was singled out. One must strain the raw tuna to wash it and Siki’s idea of straining involved way too much bouncing for my bikini. Siki was a bit of a perv.
I was so embarrassed, but at least my poisson cru was delicious – as much as I don’t care for raw meats, this dish is tasty.
After some laying out and another awkward experience with sea cucumbers, we were dropped off at our last hotel of the trip, the Moorea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa. We’re in garden bungalows with pools again. We definitely started at the top with Thalasso’s overwater bungalows, but I’m certainly not complaining – I have my own single room and a garden with a private pool and I’m in Moorea, French Polynesia. I really cannot express how thankful I am to have this opportunity and to have this life. I’m very, very fortunate in my job and my travels, as well as in the new friends I’ve made on this trip. I definitely don’t want it to end!