Fifty Shades of Blue, Part II: Bora Bora

March 1, 2019


​February 27, 2019, Bora Bora, French Polynesia — We say Bora Bora, they say Pora Pora, which means ‘first born.’ There is no B in their language... it’s just another indigenous name that explorers got wrong. However you pronounce it, James Michener called this island ‘the South Pacific at its unforgettable best.’  


Shortly after we anchored, I shot this from my veranda... 

​That’s a pretty good indication of the ‘development’ on the island, whose population is around 10,600. Bora Bora is one of the Leeward Islands, Tahiti is one of the Windward islands — both groups are in the Society Islands. 


Speaking of  Michener and Tales of the South Pacific the book and South Pacific the musical, I was on a catamaran day before yesterday when the captain pointed on shore and said, ‘That’s the most famous bar on Bora Bora: Bloody Mary’s.’  Since there was a momentary lull in the boom box Polynesian music, I thought I could incite a singalong, so I piped up with  


‘Bloody Mary is the... girl I love’ (clap clap clap clap)

‘Bloody Mary is the... girl I love’ (clap clap clap clap)

‘Bloody Mary is the... girl I love now ain’t that too damn bad!’


One voice on the other side of the boat sang along and clap clap clap clapped at the end. The other 21 people stared at me like I had two heads. Appalled, I asked, ‘What century were you all born in? You don’t know South Pacific?’ Blank stares. I have since met the other voice, Hannah from Colorado by way of Wales. She was equally appalled. Oh well, we tried.


If you remember the movie — and I know my readers are much smarter than the rest of the people on the catamaran — you’ll know that it’s not all fiction. Wiki: ‘In World War II the United States chose Bora Bora as a South Pacific military supply base, and an oil depot, airstrip, seaplane base, and defensive fortifications were constructed. Known as “Operation Bobcat”, it maintained a supply force of nine ships, 20,000 tons of equipment and nearly 7,000 men.’


It was some of those 7,000 men who sang ‘There is nothing like a dame!’ in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. One in particular, Luther Billis, sang ‘Bloody Mary’s chewin’ betel nuts / And she don’t use Pepsodent.’ 


There wasn’t much info imparted on this cruise since we were really there for a fun outing, not an education.


‘Tiki’ huts at the Conrad Resort... I was told that the only vegetation on the island when the first settlers arrived were ferns and orchids. Every other plant you see here was brought on the settlers’ huge outrigger canoes.

 Our onboard naturalist, Robin (a whale and dolphin expert) doing what he always does — scan the sky and the water with some optical or photographic device in his hand. Note the colors of the water!

An anvil cloud... officially it’s a Cumulonimbus incus

We motored around awhile then anchored and swam for an hour. Though masks and snorkels were provided, there wasn’t much coral where we were anchored so there weren’t as many fish as there had been the day before in Tahiti. But two diligent divers saw a sting ray and a red octopus! 


Gauguin, Gauguin, Gauguin. Unfortunately, the Paul Gauguin Museum on the island closed several years ago. 


The cruise ended with a Polynesian dance... 

... and a quick spin through the market set up at the tender landing... 

​Need a hat for church? Speaking of church: Our Tahiti guide had told us that the majority of church goers are Protestant, then Catholic, then other religions including ‘Seventh Day Advantage.’ 

I shall miss my Passepartout Polynesia Bureau break room...​ 

​Distance traveled since Miami: 14,746 nautical miles = 16,969 statute miles. #



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