Taha’a in the Society Islands of French Polynesia is tucked inside a large barrier reef. Known as the “Vanilla Island” the 4,500 odd inhabitants make their living fishing, raising livestock, and yup, making vanilla. This little place epitomizes life in the slow lane. The very slow lane. The whole island is like a set for one of those Corona beer commercials.
Kongo spent his time here visiting another vanilla plantation, checking out a pearl farm, and cavorting on a private motu (little island) owned by Paul Gauguin cruises where he snorkeled, ate, drank, and laid in the sun. Slow lane stuff. Very slow lane.
Kongo rode around the island in a “bus.” It’s basically a wooden box on the back of a truck with wooden benches and a center bench that you straddle like a horse. When not shuttling tourists to the vanilla farm it ferries locals around the island.
Coconuts are a major source of income. The oil can be burned like gasoline or diesel fuel and used to make oil for exports to be used in beauty products or suntan lotion. Coconut water is now a widely used healthy drink and of course the meat of the nut is used in Almond Joy candy bars and other food stuff. Pretty versatile food. Oh, and when you’re through with eating the coconut you can use them to make bikini tops.
This is how coconuts get from one island to another. They float on the currents until they wash up on some sandy beach and then they start growing. Pretty soon you’ve got more coconuts than you can shake a grass skirt at.
At the pearl farm we learned how to “marry” an oyster to get the right kind of pearl and how to adjust the color by implanting it at different areas of the lip of the oyster. Mrs. Kongo, who appears never to be finished with her “Search for the Perfect Black Pearl,” walked away with a set of earrings. From her perspective I guess you just can’t have too many pearls.
From the water the pearl farm looks innocent enough but it has the ability to suck women into to sort of a trance where their eye blink rate goes very low and isn’t relieved until they part with Polynesian francs and get a pearl or two or a whole string.
This fetching beauty serenaded visitors to the cruise company’s private island.
Betty, Kongo’s good friend and travel agent somehow ended up with her flower crown a little later. This kind of think happens often with Betty. Here she poses with Mrs. Kongo for one of those motu moments.
Another very practical aspects of coconuts is that they make a perfect vessel for tropical drinks. Kongo sampled several of these husks filled with pina coladas. Hey, it’s vacation and the monkey wasn’t driving!
Next stop is Bora Bora.
Travel safe. Have fun.