Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Beauty of Bora Bora

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After fighting the wind earlier this week, we made the call to pull up anchor and head for Bora Bora.  I mean, if we are going to endure some less than favorable weather, it might as well be in the number one honeymoon destination in the world!

The seas were ROCKY during our 20 mile passage.  In fact, they were rocking and rolling so much that we all started to feel its effects on us.  Poor little Bella may have suffered the most.
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Captain Dave doing far and above his call of duty.
When coming into the harbor of Bora Bora we were greeted by THREE whales just outside the atoll of the harbor's entrance.  We stayed there for an hour just watching as the whales played freely in the water, breeching and flipping their tails.  We finally had our chance to see whales and it was more than magical.
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Once we made it inside the big lagoon, we were finally able to enjoy Bora Bora.
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In one word, Bora Bora is beautiful.  It's definitely a destination resort kind of vacation, but the island itself has been pristine to wake up to each morning.

Yesterday, we discovered Hilton's private island just off of the main island and got permission to go over to it after 3:00.  A couple on their honeymoon had booked it until then and we were told it would be empty after that.  I think we were there at 3:01.  It was lovely and manicured and the kids loved playing in the turquoise water while snorkeling.
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My sister, Courtney, and her husband, Trent, enjoying our own little "private island" experience.
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Lily took advantage of the cabana's where she was able to strike her all too familiar pose.  We like to call it, "The Supermodel."
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Lily also loved playing at the water's edge in the sand with her dad.
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Today, we plan to do a few dives to see more sharks and then maybe take a walk around the island and try and discover some new adventure for the kids.  It really has been so fun looking at all of this through the eyes of the kids.  I am going to be more than truthful here; having six kids on board has proved to be a challenge only in that I want to keep them entertained at all times.  Having less than ideal conditions up until two days ago has upped that challenge.  However, after the past few days, the water has been calm, the sun has been shining and the temperature has been a cool 90 degrees.  I can't ask for a better setting for these kids.  Each day I arise early in the morning anticipating the days events with my family.  I have sure enjoyed this time with them and already miss my sister even though she still has 5 more days on AMARA with us.  It's been that fun with all of them.

More to come now that I have found wi-fi… All is good.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Times, Bad Weather

Beautiful Moorea.
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How the kids spend their time when not in the water.
What laundry for 11 looks like.
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Enjoying our time under the sun in Moorea. 
On Sunday, we got up early and joined the Huahine branch at the local Mormon church. Martin even helped teach Sunday School.

When we got back to the boat, Sue had laid out a spread.  It's amazing what it takes to feed a brood like us on a Sunday afternoon.

Again, I am being a bit overly dramatic.  We didn't eat ALL of that in one sitting, but we were close.

On Monday, we decided to climb to a beautiful lookout high up in the mountains of Huahine.  The guidebook made it sound so easy to get to, so we jumped off our dinghy and started the hike trying to find the trailhead.  It was a little more difficult than we first thought with 7 kids in tow and we soon realized that the hike was going to be a little more lengthy than we anticipated.  Knowing the kids weren't going to last, we decided to hitchhike to get to the mouth of the trail. After a few failed attempts, this lovely family saw us in peril (they mainly saw all the children) and pulled over and offered a ride to the start of the hike.

Once we got to the mouth of the canyon, we quickly realized that this wasn't going to be an easy hike, yet we knew we were now invested.  "Maima and Frederick" soon became our very best friends because there was no way that Maima was going to just drop us off seeing our situation.  Instead, what was just supposed to be a trip for them to the grocery store to buy a local newspaper, turned into a trip up the mountain to let us take in the view.  We all laughed because there was no way that we would have made it to the top since it was a good 4 kilometers up, and our small children were already getting tired.
The next day proved to be fun because Sue issued an invitation for "Island Night" on Amara.  That was enough to get the kids more than excited.  Their costumes went on for hours before the official night began... because who can resist a little island wear?

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Lily all decked out for Island Night.
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This special night calls for pulling out the fine china.
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There is always a kids table for the littles.
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The next day, we went on a hike to see the three waterfalls that was a "must see" in our guide books.  Instead, we found ourselves halfway up the mountain, stuck in a bamboo forest and it was getting dark quick.

We never saw those waterfalls, but it did make for a good memory in trying to get there and getting lost while realizing we had gone off the path somehow.  Of course, when that happens in my family, instead of us getting scared, the jokes start to come out.  I never get too nervous about getting lost because Martin has an impeccable sense of direction and truthfully, he knew where we were the entire time.  The problem is, we left the map to the waterfalls on the table back on Amara, so it had turned into a guessing game.  So, instead of finding the waterfalls, we chalked it all up to making a fun memory.

Monday, July 22, 2013

All is Not Calm

I can't help but think that my blog today is going to be similar to other cruisers blogs because we are all experiencing a lot of the same weather.  It's a cool 80 degrees.  That would seem idyllic to most, but add in 25-28 knot winds, some pretty good rainfall and then, to me, it doesn't seem so paradisiacal.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is winter time in the southern hemisphere.  The days are the shorter and the winds are at their strongest outside of typhoon season.
Amara has done an amazing job in shielding us from the cold, rain and wind.
I couldn't help but think of the story of the Odyssey and how it relates to Amara as of late.  Like Odysseus, I feel like we are getting blown across the sea, with Poseidon on our tail.  Although we never actually received a leather bag full of all the winds from Aeolus, it does feel like someone has opened the bag prematurely and we are stuck in a windstorm that we'd like to break free from.  Then throw in a few showers here and there.  I have yet to hear the sirens calling and there are no Trojans in sight… thank heavens!  All I can think is, "Hold on until Thursday" since the weather report says the worst is over by then.

Unlike Odysseus, we are still on course and it won't take us ten years to get to our destination (unless we choose for it to).  It's hardly fair to compare our "waiting out the storm" to Odysseus' Odyssey, but I can say that I understand Homer and his story a bit more as each day unfolds on this big blue sea. It really is about the journey and joy of discovery.  Even better, I have been able to enjoy it all with my family.
Monday, we ended up in Ta'ha' in hopes to wait out a few windstorms. Even in unfavorable weather, it really hasn't reduced our desire in having fun.  We are still able to go snorkeling or diving everyday.  We are just making the best of it and hope the sun will show her face soon enough and blow out that pesky old wind.
This past week, we also stopped in Huahine and took some time out to enjoy the beach for a few days.
The sun was out all day.  It was just those gusts of wind, mixed with pelting sand that cut our stay at the beach short.  Luckily, the beach was right in front of a lovely new resort and we decided to seek refuge in the restaurant where we enjoyed a great lunch as a family.
In fact, it was so good, and well, let's face it, I love a nice resort, that we took Sue and David out that evening for dinner there as well.

After a day on the beach, we went to go see the famous stingrays.  We were a little caught off guard by how quickly they come up to you.  They are just like little kitty cats coming up to you for a nuzzle.  The little kids were a little caught off guard at first, but they quickly jumped in to give it a try.
If anyone ever makes it to Huahine, this is a definite must.  Luckily, since we had our own dinghy, we just drove out to where all the paying customers were.  Again, another advantage to having your own boat.  It really was something that we'll talk about for years to come.

Like Odysseus, our journey continues...

The Kimballs Arrive in Papeete

On Monday, I was so excited that my family would be there that evening, that I decided that Martin and I should go and greet them at the airport.  We hadn't plan to see them until the next day (after they got settled), but I thought it was silly since the marina was so close to the airport and I was just dying to see my sister sooner rather than later.  So, I insisted that we go and surprise them the traditional Tahitian way… with leis and lots of hugs and kisses.
The entire gang all together ready for our next adventure.
Bella, their youngest, was too tired and decided to find a snooze on the closest flat surface.
The next day, we all took off and drove around the island to take in the sights and stop at a few beaches along the way.
Our first stop was at a Mara's grotto just outside of Papeete.  Colton, the oldest of my sister's brood, took Lily around in her backpack.
Lily was a little more than excited to be riding on her cousin's back.
Next, we went to the botanical gardens (Jardines Botaniques) and even got the chance to take home a few coconuts.

After a quick picnic at the ocean we took the kids to the Arahoho Blowhole and pretended that we didn't know that the "blow" would be so forceful when standing close to it.  Our first two victims were my nephews, Colton and Clay.
After a days full of activities, we headed to Louis' brother's home (Jeff) where we met up with him and his family. Jeff was so kind to take us up to the top of Mount Aorai. (Just an FYI, the pearl crop that we saw being harvested in Takaroa was just sold by Jeff.)  We were so excited to hear that news.  Amazing!

Jeff took us on a jeep ride that I don't think that we'll ever forget.  We got in the truck thinking it would be an hour or so, but instead, it turned into a four and a half hour adventure up into the canyon.  We saw ancient burial sights, climbed up to a natural waterfall and slide and drove around and saw all the other spectacular waterfalls.  It was a beautiful drive in spite of it being a bit bumpy…. okay, really bumpy.  Which simply added to the fun we were having.
Little did we know at the time, this jeep ride was going to be the highlight of the day.  The kids loved riding in the back of the jeep as we rode up the mountain.  Jeff's boys, who didn't know we were Mormon yet started singing Primary songs.  The boys were astonished that we were singing songs that they knew so well and quickly joined in singing the Primary songs in French.  It was great to see barriers quickly fall away as they joined in with us in song.
After a little hike and playing in a natural water slide for an hour, we took a little rest high in the mountain on Jeff's Land Rover.  We couldn't believe how beautiful it was up in the mountains of Tahiti.
The kids loved every minute of the adventure.
After about four hours of riding up in the mountains, we figured that the kids would be good and tired by the time we got to dinner.  We were right.  By the time we did get to the restaurant, jet lag and a full day of activities had done the kids in and they could barely hold their heads up to eat.
We leave for Moorea tomorrow where we plan to do more scuba diving and snorkeling.  I can't wait to just spend time with my sister, her husband and their kids.  We have two weeks chalk full of activities and we hope to keep the kids good and busy.  There is so much to do when you live on a boat, and we are hoping they get caught up in the island life like Martin and I have already done.  There really is no adventure close to this, especially for kids.  We want them to have this memory of visiting us in the South Pacific for the rest of their lives.  I think that we are doing a pretty good job!