We arrived back in Papeete after our whirlwind tour of Ra’iatea to find Abraham waiting for us at the airport. I wasn’t at all convinced that the rendezvous would come off, but there he was, just outside the domestic arrival area, bedraggled and a little edgy (as who would not be after nearly 25 hours?). He’d flown direct from Boston: 6 hours to LA, a 4-hour layover, 8.5 hours to Tahiti, and another 5 hours in the airport at Papeete waiting for us to turn up. And we still had to catch the ferry to Mo’orea, get a car, and drive to someplace called Fare Hamara, which was where I had arranged for us to stay.
For those of you who don’t know Abraham, here is a picture of him (after a shower and some sleep):
Fare Hamara was another of my gambles. It’s hard to find anywhere to stay with 5 people, and back when I starting making the arrangements for this trip, the first challenge was our comparatively long (6 days) stay on Mo’orea. In part I wanted to get this right because Abraham is only joining us for 2 weeks (he has to work the rest of the summer) and I wanted us all to be comfortable. I did a lot of looking around on the internet and was just beginning to despair when, late one night, I came across a link to this house you could rent in the ’Opunohu Valley. I fired off an email inquiry, not expecting very much, and fifteen minutes later I got a phone call from a guy named Bob Hammar in Seattle.
I told him a little about my project and it turned out that he was friends with Robert Suggs, one of the foremost archaeologists in French Polynesia, that the house was not far from the richest archaeological site on Mo’orea, that he had a huge and interesting library of books on the South Pacific (a catalogue of which he sent me, including a recommendation for a book which is NOT in Widener Library — imagine that!). He proved not only a fount of information but an extremely nice and generous guy. There was a touch of kismet to the whole encounter and it had a decidedly calming effect on me during a period of steadily building pre-departure anxiety.
So, we got the ferry to Mo’orea, picked up our rental car, and drove past the Sofitel and the Hilton and on around the island, with the kids gradually uniting in a chorus of mistrust, until we finally arrived at a steep, narrow, rather unprepossessing driveway. I was really holding my breath at this point; two kids in revolt are hard to handle, but three is a serious problem.
Here, then, is what we encountered: a fabulous two-bedroom cedar house built in the round with an open ceiling in the main room, an encircling deck, and a freestanding bathhouse with a sunken tiled double shower. Like the very best of Northern California transplanted to French Polynesia (minus the hot tub; which is fine by me). None of the pictures do it justice, but this should give you an idea.
This is from the outside:
this is the view up the valley from the deck:
and out to the reef:
Needless to say we are all completely happy, as you can see from this photo (shot through the screen door) of us playing Scrabble…