I experienced the scariest moment of my entire life today and it didn’t have to do with sharks. Our group left Le Taha’a bright and early for a boat transfer to Raitaea, a flight to Papeetee, an hour layover in the market, a ferry transfer to Moorea, and a bus transfer to the Hilton Moorea. All in all, it was about 5 hours of travel, which made us pretty weary by the time we arrived in our garden bungalows with private plunge pools. I had about twenty minutes to put down my bags before our four wheel drive island tour (no dip in the pool…that story will come later).
The vehicles for our 4WD tour are two trucks with cushioned seats in the back, a couple of bars to keep you from bouncing out at a low level (doesn’t stop you from being thrown off at a higher level), and some rusty seat belts. I’m fine with this, as long as the driver doesn’t go too fast. Which he does. We’re taken to a souvenir shop to try the local alcohols, an activity associated with a pressure to buy something, then we’re taken to a private farm to try the local jams, another pressure sales activity. It’s a beautiful, smooth drive on the main roads. The problem comes when we get off of those main roads and begin our steep incline toward the top of Magic Mountain, which sounds like a really non-threatening name. Don’t be fooled. The truck shook back and forth violently as we looped around hairpin turns. The higher we ascended, the more aggressive the driver seemed to get – I made the mistake of looking over the edge. We were literally inches from the cliff side. I. Was. Terrified.
I really can’t capture the moment in words, other than to tell you: imagine the most dangerous roads you’ve driven on (anyone who has been to Eze or the Amalfi Coast) and then put yourself in an open air vehicle. It’s horrifying. The funniest thing, though, everyone else in the group was all calm, cool, and collected. Laura and I were screaming bloody murder – curse words, Hail Mary’s, you name it. I literally latched onto her at one point. Mama Sally tried to calm me down, “Lindsey, tell me about your most interesting booking.” It worked for a few seconds, right until the driver threw our truck into reverse and careened down a U-shaped formation, backing us all the way up to the base of the Magic Mountain.
I got out of the vehicle, panicked, and asked if there was any other way down, besides rolling. No such luck. I never realized how terrified I am of heights until that moment, as we had to walk up a narrow path to the very top of the mountain. Not only did the summit offer spectacular views, it was covered in goat droppings. Between the truck ride, liqueur samples, jam samples, the goat poop smell, and the creeping fear that I would trip and roll down the entire mountain, I literally felt nauseous. The look on Laura’s face made me think she was feeling about the same. We were really two terrified peas in a shaky pod on this excursion.
The road down was somewhat less intense, but I was sure as heck ready to get off of that truck – we still had about an hour and a half of pineapple farms and pearl shops to go into. No thanks. Once we got back to the Hilton, all I really wanted to do was take a dip in my private plunge pool. When I say private, I mean that the main wall around the pool is completely blocking anyone’s view, but the lower fourth wall is just a little bit short. Unfortunately, something that’s a little bit short for my 5’3” self is really short for people of normal height…meaning that my sneaky attempt at skinny dipping turned out very embarrassing. I shouldn’t even admit this on my blog, as this is literally the first time I’ve done anything like this and it was totally by myself, so it’s not really that adventurous; I guess I was just riding the thrill of Mount Magic. As soon as I heard a man’s voice and saw a head bobbing over the shorter wall, I freaked – I grabbed my towel and ran for cover inside my bungalow. Unfortunately, two out of four walls are all completely glass, which offers a pristine view from both sides of the windows. When I realize that both of my curtains are wide open, I high-tail it to the bathroom, crouching and wondering if the man saw me. Once I get in the bathroom, I notice that the bathroom also has a direct view of the garden area; only two narrow mirrors stand in the way from seeing straight through my bungalow. So I hide in my tub and compose myself. That’s what I get for being slightly adventurous – I should probably save it for the next time that I have a truly private plunge pool. This one, not so private. Also, no pictures of this experience available.