Day 19 Jan 22 (Moorea)

At 5 AM the ship set sail for Moorea. We were scheduled to arrive by 8 AM because it is separated from Tahiti by about 10 miles of water. the distance between the ports is somewhat longer but still, after all those sea days we were glad to have back to back ports.

Unfortunately there was some problem with the trip and instead of our tenders starting to ferry passengers back and forth at 8 AM they didn't start until about 9:30 AM. We were supposed to meet the dive boat for our next SCUBA dive early and by the time we got there the boat was nowhere to be seen. We looked around for maybe a van or something from the dive shop but no luck. I checked with some of the Amsterdam personnel and they said there had been a dive boat there but it had left some time earlier. We considered waiting in case it would come back (Scott had no phone number to call to contact them - only an email and we didn't have email access on the pier so...). One of our group, Norrie, opted to sign-up for a snorkel tour. Jane, Scott and I were still trying to figure out a way to salvage the dive trip. After a few minutes of debating the possibilities - more time than was really justified by our lack of options - Jane and I decided to follow Norrie's lead and go snorkeling. By the time we returned to the area where the tour bus had been it was gone. We knew the name of the tour company was Hiro's and we asked people if there was another bus or something and were told that Hiro's was still there. In fact, Hiro himself was there! He put us in a cab (no charge) and only charged us about half of what the Amsterdam tour which did the same thing was costing other passengers. Apparently the cruise ship makes quite a bit of money on these excursions. So anyway, we hop in the cab and as I mentioned briefly we had a very exciting ride of about 7 miles and caught the snorkel boat.

The short version is that we had a blast!! We saw more fish and coral than we had the day before during the SCUBA dive, saw sharks and rays and had a tour supplied lunch that was typical polynesian chicken and fish barbequed and some fruit rum punch.

We had a couple of hours after the shark feeding and the Manta Ray kissing (well, a few people kissed them. I'm not so much a first date ray kisser. I did pet them a fair amount. Also, one black tipped reef shark swam right under me in about 4 feet of water while I was snorkeling!) We were told not to try to pet the sharks. I complied. We went to a Motu (I think that is what the call them - they're islets surrounding the main island) with beaches and picnic benches, etc. for the barbeque picnic. While there we could drift snorkel. That means you walk up the beach a bit, get in the water with your snorkel and drift back to where you started because of the current. We were warned not to lose track of where we were because the current would happily have carried us well beyond where the boat and picnic were. This tour director had advised us earlier before the shark feeding that they didn't count the number of people they had on board until after the shark feeding so we figured he might not miss a few of us if we were washed away so we were good little snorkelers.

All in all it was a great day and all the more so because we had to improvise! I had said to the group of SCUBA divers when we decided to snorkel that in my life some of the greatest adventures were when plans had to be changed and everyone just went with the flow and maintained a good attitude. This turned out to be one of those times. We all agreed that we probably had a better day than we would have diving.

Had some time to do a little souvenir shopping and stuff after returning from the snorkel trip. Discovered quite by accident that they will bargain on price just like the marketplace in Juarez. I was looking for some jewelry for two daughter's in law who will remain nameless but who are providing me with grandkids so I figured it was the least I could do. Don't tell them I got a good deal. I plan to make out like the gifts are very expensive. Ssshhh! Well, I was just checking the price on the items I had selected and the girl in the shop said she would give them to me at about a 25% discount for the two. I was feeling pretty good as I walked away until I realized that if I had actually been bargaining she would almost certainly have given me an even better price. One of my SCUBAmate's friend, Carol, was looking at the same jewelry earlier and I encouraged her to bargain. She had liked a piece which was carved in the shape of a Manta Ray with a pearl like object (many of these are actually just volcanic rock which has been polished and the prices weren't high enough to believe they are real pearls) mounted on it. She said she would like to try to get a better price but wanted me to go with her since I had been given a reduced price. The piece was marked $45 and when she did her little dance about me and bargains the girl asked her how much she would be willing to pay. Carol said $20 and the girl counter offered $25 and the deal was made. I felt pretty good about at least helping Carol get a good deal but on the way out the girl stopped me and explained she was able to give such good prices because she and her husband were the artists. Then she handed me a tie tack with some carving and another pearl like object on it and thanked me for bringing in Carol! The moral here is simple: Tahiti bad, Moorea good!

I think this is the best day so far on my journey.

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