Another bittersweet aspect of this leg of the journey: leaving the Tuamotus. I love the Tuamotus. They are wild. They are pristine. They are remote. They are uninhabited for the most part, but the places that are inhabited are so by the most friendly people in the world. They are the quintessential "getaway" spot, but are not touristy at all. So it is sad to leave them. Who knows if I will ever return? I would like to think I will, but therein lies the traveler's dilemma: To return to places one knows and loves, or venture somewhere new and unknown with the hopes of finding another special place. For now I have chosen the latter, and thus am on my way to Tahiti.
Don't get me wrong. I am really stoked to get to Tahiti. To me Tahiti means civilization - grocery stores well stocked with vegetables, reliable internet so that maaybe I can post pictures of the past 2 months, laundry facilities so that I can have clean clothes, and (most importantly) surf shops and tours so that somebody can give me some local knowledge about how to score some waves around here! Really, Tahiti is a pretty big milestone for us. Papeete (prounced "Pah-pae-et-tae", not "Pah-peet") is the first major city we will arrive in since Mexico. It feels like we have been in the outback; the rugged wilderness of Polynesia (of course with the civilized air of the French). Now back to real "civilization" with cars and traffic and a huge tourist industry, along with all the aforementioned commodities. (I feel another bittersweet theme coming on here. Ha.)
Back to the last few days in Toau - we were moored in a very cool little cove that was actually on the outside of the lagoon. Hard to explain, but worthwhile to visit if you are ever in the area. The snorkeling was great, especially outside the pass (which wasn't really a pass, but a potential surf spot with the right swell). The coral shelf stretched out past the atoll about 100 meters and then dropped sheer off into the deep blue abyss. Swimming above it right on the edge of the drop off was eerie, especially when a reef shark would emerge out of the blue and swim around us curiously. In the coral shelf there were also huge grottos or pits in the reef, which were cool to dive down into to check out all the little (and not so little) creatures in the nooks of the coral. The visibility was about 80 feet. Will I ever see something like this again? I hope so.
A brief summary of the Tuamotus (all my personal opinion, of course):
Favorite overall place: Tetamanu Village, South Fakarava
Best snorkeling: West pass, Makemo
Best wave: N/A :(
Sharkiest Spot: Tahanea
Best Poisson Cru: Valentin's house, Toau
Ok, enough of that. We now have 113.0 nautical miles to go (out of 225) to get to Tahiti. We should arrive with the sunrise tomorrow.
At 5/31/2011 7:32 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°36.27'S 147°39.64'W
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