(Opunohu Bay, Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia)
Happy Birthday to Me!
Although a lady never tells her age I will say this is the first year I’ve been a little unsettled about my new number. Boo-hoo. Poor me. I know. Though I feel it’s a point worth noting – at least as something to look back and laugh at myself over – and now that will be the end of that.
I started my day off with a run. An activity I sincerely enjoy and one, thanks to the Society Islands’ well established infrastructure, I’ve been able to routinely do for the last month. I’m not out there breaking any records, but man I feel good and it’s a great way to take in all the different islands.
Following a lovely breakfast back on Oceanna we packed up our bag and headed out for a hike. I should note that the packing included the regular things like water, sunscreen, and granola bars, but today there was one item added of a more celebratory nature. A cooler bag with a ice-chilled bottle of champagne! You see, the game plan was to hike on up to this stunning lookout point where we would toast to my increasing age on top of the world. Things did not go exactly according to plan.
First we made an irrational, and truly out of character, decision to opt for the short dinghy ride and long walk to start of our hike. 45 minutes later our adventure was beginning and my sweaty, nonwalker partner was attempting to put on his best I-don’t-entirely-hate-this face. As we passed the shrimp farm and ventured up the pasture-lined road, our thumbs were out in hopes for a quick ride to Belvedere. Ambling along, we were just beginning to dread the unmistakable increase in gradient when a kind and friendly women, with her daughter, pulled over to offer us a ride.
At the Belvedere lookout point we took the requisite picture, said Chao to our car-driving friend, and set out on the mossy path towards Three Palms lookout. The planned locale for our pinnacle champagne moment. We had read about Three Palms in many guide books and even discussed it with the boys on Kuhela, who had completed it a couple of days before.
Long story short, we did not find the three palms.
Ten minutes into our trek we ran into a family returning from their successful hike. Everyone was chipper and full of energy as the Dad informed us we had about 45 minutes to go. Bolstered by this concrete information Gregory and I continued on with a skip in our step. I noted my watch, mentally calculating that we had an easy 30, maybe 35 minutes until the bubbly graced my lips.
An hour and a half later I was cursing that upbeat Dad.
Admittedly there were a couple of forks in the path where we could have gone astray. Though we tried our best to take the ones MOST travelled by and even doubled back once when we doubted we’d made the correct decision. That, and we passed two other groups of hikers both destined for the infamous Three Palms.
When the trail dumped us out onto an overgrown forest road we knew we were never going to find those stupid palms. As we weighed our options the two other groups of lost hikers were also unceremoniously deposited at the end of the line. The way we saw it, it was a ruddy hour and a half back through everything we’d just done, or we could break trail ahead and see what the forest had in store for us.
We struck out into the unknown.
With new hiking partners the mood was light and optimistic. The road had to lead somewhere. At one point we came across a large sign posted on a tree. Luckily our new friends spoke French and translated for us. It was a map and information explaining the boundaries and seasons for wild pig hunting in the area. Graciously, we were outside of the permitted timeframe.
We continued on our way making game-time decisions at continued forks in the road. When the trail began to markedly shift downhill we rejoiced that we must be going in some sort of a right direction, and before long we found ourselves back down on the road where Greg and I had earlier willed a car to pull over for us.
What’s that saying it’s not about the destination but the getting there? Well it must be true because we never did get to our destination and the adventure NOT getting there was a fantastic time nonetheless. And because we never made it to the planned lookout point (or any other point that could pass as a notable locale to stop and toast), we never popped that top on the birthday champagne. So, as not to simply take a chilled bottle for a nice afternoon walk, just to return it to the confines of the fridge, we plunked down on a waterside bench and shot the cork skywards.
We finished the bottle with the help of Angie who we flagged down riding by on her bicycle, then returned home for a veritable feast of fresh seared prawns and bowties.
Now I didn’t get to spend today with my Birthday Sister Maria – like we did last year in the San Blas – though she was definitely on my mind as I blew out the candles on my pile of cookies cake and shared them with our new friends Ryan, Angie, and Dane from the rad Oregon boat, Soul Rebel.