Bora Bora

You don’t make a casual, spontaneous visit to Bora Bora. If your goal is to spend some time there at a luxury resort, you have to fly to Tahiti International, take a domestic flight to Bora Bora’s tiny airport, then get a boat ride to the Motu (outer island) where your resort is located. After all that you are rewarded with the best snorkeling and diving in French Polynesia. The lagoon teams with millions of fish and other aquatic life. Originally the luxury resorts were on the mainland but most have now migrated to the Motus.

If you plan on a land tour the ship’s tender boat lands you in the village of Vaitape. Public transit is non-existent so you need to rent a car or a bike or take one of the “Le Truck” bus tours.

Really luxurious, eh? No A/C but the sea breezes keep you cool enough. The road around the island and the airport are courtesy of the US Military – who used Bora Bora as a supply base in World War II.

The remains of a long dormant volcano. According to our guide you can try to climb up to the caves in the rock, but the mosquitos will likely carry you away before you get there.

Not a bad view from the back garden.

One of the nicest souvenirs you can get is this hand colored Pareo wrap – a versatile beach accessory. All kinds of designs are available and quite inexpensive if you buy at the source. The tour stops right at a little shop where they make them.

It’s pretty difficult to take a bad photo in Bora Bora.

One of the public beaches. Note the white sand from the coral reef here. None of that volcanic black stuff. You can swim with the rays here if that’s your bag.

On the way back we stopped at the best bar on the island. Bloody Mary’s has hosted a lot of famous people over the years.

Recognize anybody on the list?

Tour’s over and it’s time to head back to the ship.

On the way out, this fellow did some tender surfing on the wake of our boat in his outrigger canoe. Scary.

Back aboard. Our final look back at Bora Bora as we get ready to sail to Hawaii.

 

 

Mr. Oates Settles In

 

It’s been a week since I met Mr. Oates at the Humane Society shelter in Arnprior, and he’s had an eventful time.  He’s experienced a couple of stressful car rides in a carrier, a visit to the vet, two new people to get used to, and a whole house to explore and feel safe in.

He’s doing pretty well, all things considered. No more slinking around with his tail between his legs, that is for sure. He’s eating well, and using the litterbox perfectly.

Although 33 years of cat experience has meant we have few surprises in store for us, every cat is different and Mr. Oates is no exception.

  • He has boundless energy – especially early in the morning. He loves cat wand toys. After looking after an old sick tired 16 year old, this has come as quite a pleasant revelation to me. Not so much for Maria when he goes after her toes under the sheets at 6 AM.
  • He’s far more talkative than Sammy – who was mostly silent for many years – only his thyroid issues made Sam more vocal, and then only at mealtime. In this respect Oates is more like our Siamese Brio, although no normal domestic cat could out talk a Siamese.
  • He’s a bed guy for sure, again more like Brio. Our old Siamese buddy wanted to push you off the pillow, and ended up being banished to the rec room at night. Oates is more circumspect and sleeps at the foot of the bed. This morning I woke up with a furry hot pack right behind the curve of my knees.
  • We had two plus years of Sammy’s thyroid problem which we kept under control to some extent. This meant that Sam was always a restless sleeper and short napper. Mr. Oates takes those long luxurious naps of a contented cat. He curls up and looks totally secure. This is a good thing if you’re a cat.
  • I’ve been playing with him and giving him a treat or two afterward. This looks like it’ll become a tradition. It only takes a couple of days and a cat precedent will be set.

He’ll be keeping me company tomorrow as Maria is off to help my daughter with the grandkids. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to have him here. It was a lonely place without a furry pal, even for a month. Now all is right with Oates’s world…and mine.

 

Moorea

Moorea was the second of the French Polynesian Islands we visited. It’s only a short sail from the main island of Tahiti, but it seems a world away. Moorea is not pronounced Moo-ree-ah but Moe-oh-ray-ah (you pronounce all the vowels separately.) It was by far our favorite of the islands for its rugged beauty and friendly people.

If you are a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” you might try humming “Bali Hai” as you gaze at the tall peak with the greenery on its nearly vertical slopes. That is the famous mountain from the song.

Our tour of Moorea took us to a Marae – an ancient Polynesian temple. Only the foundation stones remain now, but the Tahitians still regard the site as sacred ground. This Marae was one of the larger and more imposing ones. They probably made some human sacrifices here, but our guide said they only do that on Saturday now, so because we visited on Sunday we were safe. 🙂

We also went to a cultural center where we had a good introduction to the old school Moorean way of life. We even saw how the Tahitians go about making a pig roast luau.

Here’s the view of the beach at the cultural center. Not too shabby.

And when our tour finished we returned to the ship to watch the afternoon shadows play over this most beautiful island. Well worth the visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Mojo

Cat behaviorist and musician Jackson Galaxy refers to “Cat Mojo” a lot. Basically it’s having the feline confidence to be a cat in the present moment.

According to J.G. all cats follow pretty much the same daily cycle – whether feral or domestic:

  • Wake up
  • Hunt for food
  • Eat
  • Groom
  • Nap
  • Rinse and Repeat

Now our cherished pets don’t have to actually kill something to eat but the prey drive is there, so it’s best to channel it into some sort of constructive playtime. Our first cat Brio (shown above) liked to chase rolled up balls of paper – or socks. Sammy was a small plastic mouse fanatic, or he liked to “kill” a long furry cord with a Velcro spider on the end. Mr Oates has a stuffed Grumpy Cat toy he likes to wreak havoc with.

When we got Brio (Lord, that was over 33 years ago now) I didn’t know as much about cats as I do today. As a result I played rough with him – sometimes bowled him across the floor. I probably encouraged him to be more aggressive (and got scratched) as a result. Fortunately he had a kind and loving heart so he forgave and forgot. I learned soon enough to treat him like a cat, not a spaniel.

Sammy was big and strong even as a kitten, so I would never have tumbled him around, and I knew better than to try. Cat play is best done at arm’s length if you value your skin. So I toss Grumpy Cat for Mr. Oates to chase, or I use a bamboo pole with a nylon rope on the end to get him jumping and pouncing. I shall have to try a laser pointer if I’m feeling particularly sadistic some day.

Jackson Galaxy deals a lot with troubled cats who are causing problems for the owner. If you watch his show “My Cat from Hell” on YouTube you’ll see what I mean.

Most of the problems boil down to Fear (no Mojo.) The cat just lacks confidence to get out there and be a cat. There can be a number of reasons for this:

  • Fear of Change. All cats hate change and depending on the individual this can be devastating to the point it’ll weaken feline confidence for quite a while. Brio came from a multi-cat home to our place when he was only 12 weeks old. He was so freaked out he stopped eating for a week, and only a can of chopped chicken broke the spell for him.
    Sammy exuded confidence and it took about two hours for him to take over the place in 1999. However he had big time problems when we boarded him briefly in a kennel environment a few months later.
    Mr. Oates has had his world rocked this month – and not in a good way. First he lost his home and family, then he spent some time in a shelter with 50 other cats all competing for food and litter box time. After that he was caged in a carrier, had a noisy car ride and then was let loose in another totally unfamiliar environment with two strangers. He’s done remarkably well in just a couple of days.
  • Fear of other animals. Some cats just don’t do well with other cats (not to mention dogs.) Brio hated dogs. Sammy got along well with the big ones, but the sight of a Jack Russell turned him into mush. Mr. Oates did OK other with cats in the shelter but he tended to hang back and be a wallflower.
  • Fear of other household members. We are all clueless bumbling giants as far as a cat is concerned, and some people never learn how to communicate. A cat who hides away under the bed and bites or scratches particular people in the house might have a failure to communicate problem. It’s really up to the owner to fix this, not the cat.
  • Fear of the environment. A cat coming into any new environment for the first time will likely hide out in one area and slowly emerge as confidence grows that there are no perils lurking round the next corner. We are watching Mr. Oates slowly get his Mojo back but it’s only been a couple of days. He’s still a bit edgy.

I have a lot of hope for Mr. Oates though. He’s young, but he’s been well socialized and he’s got a lot of affection in him. I can speak his language well enough after many years of “catification.” Although we have once more rocked his world, he should soon conclude that it has been in a far more positive and Mojo inducing way.

 

 

Mr. Oates

He arrived yesterday.

He’s a white and marmalade tabby with copper eyes. He’s only about 8 months old – kinda young for two old folks, but he seems quite dignified for his age. He’s a little nervous exploring the whole house, but he’s a cuddle bug so it shouldn’t take him long to come around.

He’s used to kids so the grandkids won’t totally freak him out when they visit. He’s never been an outdoor cat so we won’t have that problem.

We got him from the Arnprior Humane Society and I took the advice of the staff there as to which possible cat would be suitable. They have over 100 cats so it’s heart breaking and overwhelming to pick one on your own. I probably would not have given this fellow a chance without some coaching, as he wasn’t as aggressively friendly as some others.

So many cats arrive in a shelter through no fault of their own. This little guy was collateral damage in a marriage breakdown – nobody wanted the responsibility to care for him so he was surrendered to the custody of the shelter.

Oh yes – his name was Oats. We thought it fits him, but we added an “e” so he now is more famous I guess. His moniker is possibly reminiscent of:

  • John Oates – blue eyed soul artist, guitarist and singer.
  • Johnny Oates – legendary baseball manager.
  • Adam Oates – hockey player.
  • Warren Oates – actor in Sam Peckinpah movies.
  • Capt. Lawrence Oates – tragic hero of the Scott South Pole expedition in 1912.

We’ll probably call him “Oatesy” – just sayin’.

I am grateful to Maria’s kindness in getting a new guy so soon after Sammy left us. Mr. Oates is too – he slept at her feet last night. He’s working hard to get a place in her heart. As for me – he had me at “Meow.”

James Norman Hall

One of the highlights of our visit to Papeete, Tahiti was a tour of the home of one of my favorite boyhood authors, James Norman Hall. Mr. Hall – along with Charles Nordhoff – wrote “Mutiny on the Bounty” , “Men Against the Sea” and “Pitcairn’s Island.” Cracking good reads, all of them.

James Norman Hall was also a World War 1 flying ace and a veteran of the trenches before that – although he was an American he initially enlisted in the British army posing as a Canadian. Later on he joined the Lafayette Escadrille and flew with Eddie Rickenbacker. Quite a guy.

Mr. Hall lived in Tahiti from 1920 until his death in 1951. His son Conrad Hall was a famous Hollywood cinematographer who won three Academy Awards.

Hall’s former home is still decorated as he would have liked it, although the display of all his medals and uniforms probably wouldn’t have met with his approval. There are also copies of the screenplays for the Bounty novels. He worked on those as well in the 1930s.

On our tour we visited Point Venus on Matavai Bay where Captain Cook and later the Bounty’s crew landed on Tahiti. Here is some of the black volcanic sand you see on the island beaches. Lots of land crabs around here as well.

And here is a view of Matavai Bay looking back toward Papeete.

French Polynesia being what it is, all the shops closed at noon on Saturday – in spite of the fact there was a whole cruise ship full of possible customers. The pearl stores stayed open for a while, as did this market near the ship. But that was it as far as shopping went. I guess they don’t need the business.

 

cww trust seal