Sunday, February 04, 2007

And It's Time, Time, Time

In a very weird way—sometime in the next day and a half (I'm not really clear how this happens) we're going to cross the International Date Line!

I've never understood the International Date Line. Time zones are whacked out enough—I barely have any idea what time it is at home right now—but why do we need the International Date Line in addition? What does it do?

Either way. As far as we're concerned, Monday, February 5 is not going to exist. Curiouser and curiouser. I'll turn 25 a whole day faster than I thought.

Papeete surprised me in its utter cosmopolitanism, though I know I shouldn't be surprised at that at all. I've lived and spent time in enough cities that I can deduce more subtle cultural differences, but nevertheless I feel more and more that all cities are alike. It's a teeming metropolis—okay, not *teeming*, there are about 130,000 residents and then tons of tourists, but still'n'all, it's always moving, always active, like any city I've ever been in. Simply the look of the South Pacific is enough to keep me happy forever, though. We visited Le Marche, Papeete's daily market, which had a stunning array of fruits and vegetables, among other exciting things. I loaded up on vanilla beans (they're so much cheaper here!) to take home with me. One thing I'm really missing on this cruise is baking. I know it's weird, but I am. When I get home, I'll be delighted to see my oven.

About the most exciting thing that's happened to me all week was when Tali, Sumara and I were on the deck as we sailed into Mo'orea (our body clocks are so ridiculously awry that we've all been running into one another at odd hours) and found that a school of dolphins was only feet away from the boat. We watched them silently for about twenty minutes, and then started trying to give names to individual dolphins based on their behavior. (The leading dolphin was Queen Elizabeth.) Mo'orea is also itself too beautiful for words. I mean, Hawai'i was lovely enough, but this . . . You hear what they say about volcanic islands, and now I'll tell you: IT'S TRUE. It's an incredibly lush natural place, but the formation of its mountains and craters feels a bit outrageous at the same time. I know mountains are formed as a result of volcanic activity or glaciers, but still. For a New Yorker and Midwesterner, it boggles the mind.

For some reason, no one else was up for an inland hiking tour, so I spent most of the day without the group. Though my favorite mountain in the world is still Table Mountain in Cape Town, several of the mountains in Mo'orea give it a run for its money. There were other people on the hiking tour, a few of whom I knew by face from the boat, but Garrett and Malcolm were out on their own, and I think Susan and her husband and kids were with Sumara and family, and Julie was desperate to scuba-dive (she's licensed), so none of my more serious acquaintances were even around. I liked the privacy of it, experiencing this new place without anyone truly familiar. My legs are killing me, but it was so many miles of worth it. By the time I met up with the crew for a quick drink and snack at Le Plantation de Mo'orea (the utter weirdness of colonialism is another discussion for another day—the place was truly delicious and a puzzling combination of Western and non), I was pretty much dead on my feet. Just the exposure to the sun tired me tremendously. I fell asleep the instant we got back on the boat and I'm up now, consuming more water than I thought possible. I think the others are asleep, but what do I know.

All right. It's been an incredibly long day and I'm tired. I have somewhere between two and three days to chill before we arrive in Tonga.


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