…Because it’s story time. Here’s a collection of my favorite mishaps in French Polynesia:
Chihuahua – This has been my nickname on the trip. Our group was discussing height and Laura, who is at least 5 inches taller than me, told me that she didn’t think I was that short (this is the first time I’ve ever heard this from someone taller than me). I replied that I tend to have a Chihuahua complex, meaning that I feel taller than I am. Emma happened to overhear and decided that she would call me that for the rest of the trip. I don’t think she’s used my name once since then and she’s even got Andrew doing the same. It’s so funny to hear one of their voices calling, “Hey, Chihuahua, come here.” The weirdest part? I respond. Sometimes I even yip.
Motorboating Stingrays – This is the most inappropriate story I will share on my blog, but I promised Andrew that I would. When we were swimming with the stingrays, they really, really took a liking to chests. Particularly my chest. Imagine that this massive, slimy puppy of a stingray has latched itself onto your boobs. I mean, it just lodged itself there, like it had found a home for life. I couldn’t get the thing off of me, and all the while I could feel the little stingray mouth just kind of finding its way around the territory. Finally, Siki, who also would like to lodge himself onto a pair of boobs, managed to pry the stingray from me. It was at this point that I turned to Andrew and whispered, “I just got motorboated by a stingray.” I’ve never seen him laugh so hard.
Sea Cucumbers – I don’t really know how to explain this tactfully, but sea cucumbers are some really gross creatures. Just Google what they do when touched. During our time at Siki’s motu, some of us decided to go for a swim. While we were standing in the shallow waters, Emma pointed out a giant sea cucumber. I mean giant. No one quite wanted to touch it, so I agreed to pick it up with my feet if Andrew would be the one to caress the creature. This is the first point in my career where my monkey toes have come in handy (I have impressive feet – I can even put a pen cap on a pen with them! It’s a talent that seems to go unappreciated). So, I picked up the slimy little creature and tried to hand (foot?) him off to Andrew, who appropriately decided to freak out and refused to touch it. We played this game about five more times: I would pick it up with my feet and hand it to the next person in line. Lori rubbed the skin on her face, Diane pretended to eat it, Laura inspected it, and Emma refused to grab it because she was the official photographer. Everyone is squealing like little girls but we’re all in hysterics over this cucumber. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. We decide to stop messing with the cucumber when he literally goes limp…afraid we’ve injured him, we put him back on the bottom of the sea. He quickly assumes the fetal position and Laura announces, “Sorry we’ve violated you, sea cucumber.”
Site Inspections: Clock. Mirror. Door. – Sites are a necessary part of the job, probably the most important aspect when going on a familiarization trip like this. Most of the time they’re pretty fun, but sometimes you get a dud tour guide who just doesn’t want to be there. We had one woman who looked enraged anytime someone would speak when she was explaining the coffee maker. We had one that smelled (see below). And then we had one that was just rude and a little over the top. During this particular tour, our guide literally pointed out everything we walked past. In the gym, he highlighted each object, “Elliptical, barbell, mirror, clock, door.” Really? Is it necessary to point out that the gym features all of the standard things that any gym should feature, not to mention that any general room should feature (a clock and a door – this is a five star resort for sure!). Anyway, this guy just generally rubbed us the wrong way, especially when Laura asked him a couple of questions that went like this:
Laura: How far can clients swim into the ocean – are there boats that go by?
Man: Do you see any boats?
Laura: No, but I don’t know what’s normal in this area for 8:00 AM.
Man: 9:00 AM no boats. 10:00 AM no boats. 11:00 AM no boats. 6:00 PM no boats. There are never boats.
(we actually wound up going by this resort via boat later that day)
Later during the site inspection…
Everyone: Look at that huge fish!
Laura: What kind of fish is that?
Man: I do not know. You expect me to know everything. It is a fish!
Smemily – I wanted to save this story for last, as it’s really the foundation for most of our jokes on this trip. We usually have to take golf carts around each property during our site inspections, which had never been a problem…until we met Smemily. At one of the properties, and I would never divulge which one because this is NO reflection on the resort’s great quality, our golf cart driver has the worst B.O. of anyone or anything that I’ve ever smelled. When we first arrived on the property, I honestly that the whole place just smelled bad. The reception area smelled bad, the walk to the golf cart smelled bad, the ride in the golf cart smelled bad. It didn’t dawn on me until Laura leaned over with her obvious gossip face on and goes, “This is going to sound super mean, but our golf cart driver has terrible B.O.” It all made sense now.
Even worse, Laura and I were in the seat directly behind her; downwind and in the line of fire. Every time Smem would reach out her hand to point at a certain feature, Laura and I would look at each other and desperately plead for help. I would have liked to ask her kindly, “Please don’t lift your arms up, it smells like you used sulfur and raw sewage as a deodorant.” Once we reach our first stop, I’ve got to mention this to someone else on the golf cart. I assumed that Andrew, who had been right behind me but facing the opposite direction on the golf cart, might have been safe from the odor. When I tell him, he commiserates – Emma joins in the conversation, “I was literally dry wretching in the back seat.” Somehow or another, Smemily changed golf carts but Laura and I get back on her smelly cart simply out of obligation. When we look around, we realize that Emma, Andrew, and Lori (who had been in the front seat, bless her heart), had all gotten in the other driver’s golf cart. They must have died laughing when they saw the moment of realization on our faces, like a light bulb clicking over our heads. Laura and I turned to look at them, fear and terror draped across our faces. We were envious of them and wondered why they didn’t save us, too. The rest of the site inspection was a big game to see who didn’t wind up in Smem’s cart – I lost every. freaking. time. When Smem drove us back to our rooms, unlucky Emma, Andrew and I were crying we were laughing so hard, but we were also legitimately gagging the whole way back. On top of being a smelly human being, Smemily really had no idea what she was doing driving a golf cart. She would break every few minutes and we recalled how our tour guide had made the comment, “Emily usually doesn’t drive, but she’ll be taking you today.” I think she meant, “Emily has never driven any sort of vehicle in her life, but she’ll be driving your butts around this hilly landscape today.” A bumpy ride and smelly driver are enough to make anyone feel queasy. I seriously felt like I needed to take a shower after this site inspection.
The remainder of the trip, those of us who experienced this would refer to each other with the combined smelly + name. “I feel like such a Smellaura right now,” Laura would say after a long day. Our names were as follows: Smemma, Smandrew, Smellaura, and Smehuahua.