Tonga

Greetings from the future! We crossed the big speed bump they call the international date line and completely skipped the 27th of November, so now we are 20 hours ahead of Calgary time. Because of the direction we are travelling we have to set the clocks back an hour nearly every second night. So I guess by the end we will make up that day lost in gaining extra hours of sleep here and there. The downside is that we have now caught up on our sleep and we now go to bed super early and wake up at sunrise. We are acting like a couple of old farts! LOL! That plus we play crib like there’s no tomorrow. For those of you keeping track, the score is now Bryan 34 – Char 24. (I have to let Bryan win because he throws tantrums when he loses) 😉

Anywho, we stopped in Nuku’alofa Tonga on Nov 28th, and it was not what we were expecting at all. It was very tropical, but the economy was so so poor. People were driving vehicles that were barely running, the town was incredibly run down, garbage everywhere. And I’m not sure if it was just because we arrived on the cruise ship, but it seemed people were all trying to sell whatever they could for a buck. The people, man were they incredibly sweet though! It’s really too bad they don’t clean the place up because they would attract way more tourists then which would help their economy so much.

Anyways, we arranged to scuba dive again, and I think we saw the best part of the island. We dove on two reefs with the most B-E-A-Utiful corals we have ever seen. So vibrant, huge and still alive! It seemed almost untouched over hundreds and hundreds of years, like a coral rainforest. It’s too bad our camera flooded so I didn’t get any pictures. Tonga is also famous for swimming with humpback whales. We were too late, the best season is from July to October, so we may find our way back here someday for more diving and to swim with the whales.

Hope everyone is doing well at home! We love reading your comments, we have poor internet reception though so it takes too long to respond to each one, but we love to hear what’s going on at home! Oh! On our way back to the ship in Tonga they had a horn band that played “Jingle bell rock” which seemed so funny to hear Christmas carols with no snow! They also played “Thriller”. I’m not even kidding. That song follows us everywhere!

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Bora Bora

We stopped in Bora Bora on Nov 23rd for the day. Again we got picked up right away for scuba diving once we got off the ship. Bora Bora has a chain of small islands surrounding it so inside the lagoon the waters are so clear and the colours were amazing! It was so beautiful! We drove on the boat through the lagoon to the opposite side of the island for our first dive. The waters were so warm and so clear! But the most amazing part – we saw GIANT Manta Rays! They were at least 8 feet long by 10 feet wide and that’s not including their tail! We swam right up next to them and the big one turned and came straight for me, then swam right overtop of me! I could have probably touched it! It was so amazing watching them fly through the water! It was unreal! One of our top dive experiences! Then for our second dive we went just outside the reef and the water was so clear we could see the bottom from 50 feet above! There were tons of fish here and a bunch of lemon sharks. Big ones! One that was at least 7 feet long swam up right next to Bryan, it was so cool! These were probably two of the best dives we have had to date yet, but unfortunately our underwater camera flooded on the second dive so I couldn’t get any pictures of the sharks… Big time bummer. Luckily I had a waterproof SD card so we didn’t lose our pictures of the rays!

After diving we had an amazing scallop lunch and then we went to the main beach. We saw a guy with a catamaran sailboat giving tours so we got a ride inside the lagoon. It was so much fun and the guy was a little bit crazy too which made it more entertaining! Then we wandered into the Intercontinental Bora Bora hotel to look around and saw some other people from the cruise ship there using the Infiniti pool. So we figured why not? We jumped in and hung out at this gorgeous $1000/night resort for the afternoon. It was so beautiful! We didn’t want to leave, but we couldn’t afford to stay either! I don’t think we were supposed to be there but the resort was empty so no one really cared. It was paradise! Bora Bora has the feel of a small town, but still has lots of amenities which is nice. But the hotels are ridiculously expensive. We would love to go back someday but would probably do so on our own sailboat. Or after winning the lottery. Then we could bring everyone with us too!

We are back at sea now. We’ve been gone almost three weeks and we are still crossing the Pacific. But we are having an awesome time! So glad we did this!

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Moorea

Ok, so we thought Tahiti was nice. The next two days in Moorea and Bora Bora were unbelievable! Definitely two of the best days of our lives. We are cloud nine happy people now! I’ll post the Bora Bora pictures in a separate post so they don’t get mixed up.

We stopped first in Moorea on Nov 22nd. The ship parked in this gorgeous bay (Cook Bay) and we were picked up at the dock right away to go scuba diving. Our first dive was just outside the bay and was called Lemon shark valley. There were tons of sharks! Little 3-4 foot black tip sharks were circling our boat before we even got in and they swam around us for nearly the entire dive. They were very friendly and not threatening at all. We also saw a larger lemon shark, they swim along the bottom and are a bit bigger. Again, not threatening at all. I also got close up with a turtle which I was super excited about! Then at our surface stop they took us to this bay with waist deep crystal blue water that was full of black tip sharks and sting rays, you could swim with them and they would come right up to you! It was so cool! They also fed us fresh pineapple on the boat which they grow on the island. It was amazingly good! Our second dive we saw more sharks and lots of fish. The scuba diving was just amazing! We would definitely go again if we were ever back here again and recommend Top Dive to anybody!

After that was all done we headed back to the ship and saw a booth for a scooter rental. We were told in Tahiti they don’t rent out scooters anymore because too many people had accidents so we were stoked that we could rent one here! They had one scooter left, and it was Ducati red. It was obviously meant to be! So we both squeezed on this little scooter and drove around the entire island for about 3 hours. It was a blast! The highlight however was when we were pulled over on some gravel so Bryan got me to walk up to the road to pick me up. He then pulls up next to me on the scooter and says “There’s room for one more if you still want to go to Aspen”. LOL! I nearly died laughing! My very own Lloyd Christmas! That little scooter burned pretty good too, we got up to 60 km/hr on it and we even drove up this mountain to a lookout point. At the top it got really steep, we had it pinned and were just barely moving. There was a couple waiting at the top in a jeep, so we did what any Canadian redneck would do and pretended to row the poor little scooter to the top. They were killing themselves laughing! It was such a great day. Moorea is so beautiful. To think I’ve never even heard of this little paradise before!

Oh! And a fun fact! Tahiti/Moorea/Bora Bora are in French Polynesia, which is actually a part of France. And aside from the French language, there were French baguettes everywhere. Nearly every person we saw was carrying a baguette. So very French of them! Oui oui! 20131125-151236.jpg20131125-151306.jpg20131125-151324.jpg20131125-151349.jpg

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Tahiti

We’ve been hearing a lot about the -20C weather at home so let me tell you a bit about what we’ve been dealing with here. It’s freaking hot here. Sweaty hot. Sunburn while wearing SPF 50 hot. The weather report says it was only a high of 26C so I can only assume that their weather station is up on the top of the mountain under a shady tree with a nice cool breeze. And we had to stop at three different supermarkets to find one that actually sells cold beer… Things aren’t always perfect in paradise.
Speaking of paradise, Tahiti is b-e-a-utiful! We have been here for two days and we already wish we had more time. (And money. It is not cheap here.) We went scuba diving yesterday, surfing today, and did a small tour of the island with a hired cab driver who told us some great stories about the island and living here, the topless golf course, and picking up girls and making boom boom in the jungle. He was awesome, especially once we found a cold 6 pack!
We also saw some whales! It was really sweet, there was a mother and a baby and they were playing just off shore. The baby kept slapping its tail on the water. And they would both raise their pectoral fins out together. It was really cool!
So we will have to come back to Tahiti someday. We hear the golfing is great.

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Whole lotta nothing

Holy crap the Pacific Ocean is big. We drove 2300 miles from Chile to Easter Island, and now are on another 2500 miles to Tahiti. Lots of days at sea. We haven’t seen one other boat, any planes, only a few birds. There is nothing out here but us. The internet has sucked for the last few days too. Nothing left to do but read books and gamble at the casino. Tomorrow we hit Tahiti though!
We also stopped quick at Pitcairn island. They are 48 people living on a small island in the middle of nowhere and 20 of them came out and boarded the ship for a ceremony. It was kind of neat. Google Pitcairn. It has an interesting history.
Also, in rather unfortunate news, the crib wars tally now stands at Bryan 26 – Char 18.
We miss everyone at home! Hope to catch up soon!

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The Big Giant Heads

Well we made it to Easter Island! It was unbelievably chaotic because there is only one town (Hanga Roa) where we were supposed to anchor at, but due to large swells they decided instead to anchor on the completely opposite side of the island. And we were on our own to get to town 18km away. Us and 1200 other people! The bad news is that we missed our scuba diving appointment (which fortunately wasn’t pre-paid), but the good news is that we managed to meet Joy from Australia. She had pre-booked a car rental but had too many people to share with her, so long story short, I had my drivers licence with me so we got to rent a second car to split the group up, and we got a free ride to town and back. Win-Win!
The landscape of Easter Island felt like being on the moon. But the Moai (aka big giant heads) were amazing! They were everywhere all over the island which is even more impressive once you learn that they were all formed from the rock on one central mountain and moved to their locations. Their hair-pieces were still from another part of the island and were used to keep the Moai balanced (most of them have fallen over now though). It’s unbelievable how they managed to do that. Some of the Moai were over 50 feet tall. And the hair was a separate rock to balance on top. Obviously they were a “head” of their time. Also, this was probably not a good time to lose ones “head”. But really, these guys knew how to get a”head” in life. They were probably very “head”strong. They seemed to know where they were “head”ing… Ok that’s enough.20131116-040552.jpg20131116-040653.jpg20131116-040720.jpg20131116-040749.jpg20131116-040817.jpg20131116-040908.jpg

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I saw a bird!

Some thoughts on the ship so far… It has a very nice interior, the rooms are very comfortable, the food is excellent, but unlike what we have heard of other cruises, you cannot eat your meals at anytime you like. There are specific hours when breakfast and lunch are served 8-10 and 12-2, and you must go to your assigned reservation for dinner. If you miss it, it’s not that easy to get any food unless you go to the restaurants that charge you extra. But let’s be honest, it’s probably a good thing for us in the long run if we miss a few meals! The gym is really nice, but it’s such a weird feeling running on the treadmill while going over big waves.
Also, I saw a bird yesterday. First sign of life in 3 days. We think we might have spotted some whales in the distance, we could see the spray going up, but we’re not sure.
Anyways, the crib tally is now Bryan 13 – Char 9.

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Another day

I think we are on day 4 now? I’m not even sure anymore! The waters have been really nice the past couple of days. They had forecasted rough water but it has been really calm and beautiful.
Our crib tournament has begun, Bryan took an early 4-0 lead, but after a few good rounds yesterday for Char the tally now stands at Bryan 8 – Char 6. We also discovered happy hour at the casino, they have $1 blackjack in the afternoon so we have been playing that each day too. It’s funny because the dealers speak 5 or 6 different languages so we are going to learn our numbers up to 21. The only problem is we don’t know which language is which!

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Valparaiso Chile

Yesterday we got a personal tour of Chile from Lorena, (she is cousins with Marcy, who works with my sister Jo and Bryan’s cousin Shirley). She took us around Santiago and then we drove out to the coast through Vina del Mar, and Concon, we stopped for an amazing seafood lunch on the beach and we had our first pisco sours. It’s like a tequila margarita…but stronger. They hit you so fast but are so good! Then she brought us to Valparaiso, and we checked into the floating retirement centre! Just kidding…well kind of. We are not the youngest here, but apparently this trip was set us to be a VIP tour for people with over 50 to 100 cruises in their life, so there are a LOT of Q-tips aboard! Some people had this trip booked over 2 years ago which is crazy to think we got a spot less than a month ago. Anyways, after a big party night yesterday we slept until 4 today which was awesome. Then we had our emergency drill at 5:30 and finally set out on the big blue ocean! So far so good. We are about 6 hours out at sea right now. Only feeling a little queasy from the rocking. Hope that passes soon! It’s 5 days until we hit land again. So far we are loving the boat, the rooms are gorgeous, the bed is really comfy, and the people are really nice. We are seated with a really fun couple from South Africa (and Canada/US) for dinner and so far we have shut down the restaurant each night! They also booked their trip last minute like us and we seem to have a lot in common with them.

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