Dec/09
30

That’s me. In 1994. I was 23.

It was about 120 degrees outside when this picture was taken and I was having a huge fight with my Mom who was standing right behind the photographer. Later, I tried to pose in my dress with the family cat, who had been driven across town in a cat carrier to my Grandmother’s house for the photoshoot. Upon being sprung from the carrier, he freaked out and clawed his way up the torso of my dress and my chest, ruining my dress and leaving a deep scratch that turned into a permanent scar below one collar bone. I wore the dress anyway. I covered the gashes with extra large flowers. No one noticed.

Anyway, four years after this picture was taken, my cousin proposed to a lovely girl whose family was going through a hard time financially and I gave the dress to her. She has crafty sisters who cut off the sleeves, fixed the snags, and made it new for her. She looked beautiful. I don’t know where it is today. It certainly got me off to a good start. I feel a little gratitude to The Dress.

This is relevant because I’m getting married again tomorrow night. On the beach. Polynesian style. No cats involved, much as I love them. No fancy gowns either.

Look, this is so unlike me but I am so freaking excited. We only have shorts so it will be pretty casual but….Jeff and D come up to the beach in a canoe, we crown each other and the children with these Polynesian flower crowns, and there’s a Polynesian flower/hula type dance and for the big finale…FIREDANCERS!

Awesomeness.

Until tomorrow, I remain your faithful correspondent from the tropics,

Annie

Dec/09
29

Shark Fest 2009 was so unbelievable amazing that we decided to do it a second time, except this time we would go and dive with the large lemon sharks that live in the deeper open water outside the lagoon.

It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day.

Boats make Baby J sleepy so he snuggled in for a nap on Daddy.

Daddy was grumpy because the burst eardrum meant he didn’t get to see the lemon sharks.

I started to get nervous as we headed out into open water. It just feels menacing, like you are hearing the JAWS theme in your head…DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh.

D and I were the first ones in the water….but we were clinging to each other, one hand on the ladder.

The water was cooler and a deep blue, with lots of colorful fish. The camera had a hard time with the colors so not all the pictures are great.

All you need to know is that there were sharks swimming, in open water, less than 12 inches from my plump snackrel of an arm. 12 inches!

Close to us, we saw only our friendly variety of black tipped reef sharks. We relaxed.

The Polynesians joke that sharks “don’t like white meat”.

Here’s M.

As we began to relax, we noticed the bigger sharks, the lemon sharks near the ocean floor. They were beautiful. Nine feet plus, with a pretty light grey color.

Sadly, I could not get good pictures of them. The damn black tipped sharks kept swimming in the way and the autofocus would go wild and then focus on the reef tip shark. It was like being with a cousin with bad self esteem who has to jump in every single picture.

LOOOK ATTTT MEEEEE! I’M A BLACK TIPPED REEEEEF SHAAAAARK!

Yep. It’s Babysitter K. Beautiful, sweet, adventurous, ambitious, and very, very brainy too. Anyone have a fabulous son, nephew, or family friend in the 24-28 year old range?

Here’s a cluster of black tipped near the surface. It’s dark but you can imagine the adrenaline being 3 feet away from them. At one point, one turned and just started swimming straight for me.

It wasn’t like an attack thing because it was lazy slow swimming but it was too close for comfort.

I flipped on my back and started kicking my flippers like crazy at him. He swerved and swam away.

Once safely back on the boat, Baby J tried to suit up to be like us.

The cuteness. It kills sometimes.

We decided to head into the shallow water for some ray watching.

Annnnnnnnnd….what do you think we found there?

Uh huh.

Low self esteem shark. ME ME ME ME ME ME.

After a while, a few rays flew by and I spent half an hour trying to chase one down to touch it.

Note to self: even with flippers, a ray will be faster. Always.

I finally stopped trying to chase one and instead floated on the top and waited for them to glide under me.

As soon as I adopted that strategy, M, D, babysitter K, and I all spent the next 30 minutes petting the beautiful rays as they passed.

Two more days of paradise.

Sincerely, making the most of things,

Annie

Dec/09
29

Yesterday Jeff and D went out seeking father-son bonding time and decided to take a hike up the steep mountain in the center of Bora-Bora to the Valley of the Kings.

It was insanely hot and humid.

At the time, it seemed like a great idea to lounge around the pool and order ginger ales and play with baby J, who is just learning to blow bubbles and other pre-swimming type stuff. I was thinking;

Man, I am so glad I don’t have to hike up some hillside to prove my manhood. Jesus. I sure got the better end of the deal today.. heh heh. I think I’ll have another ginger ale.

Then they came back, all covered with sweat and absolutely brimming with great stories. Jeff said:

It was so Indiana Jones. We hacked our way through the jungle with a machete to get to the temples. You would have loved it.

I’m really jealous.

Their guide was a French-Moroccan archeologist who has made the study of early Polynesians and their culture his life’s work.

Needless to say it was fascinating, although a bit sad once you got to the part where the French Catholic missionaries landed, gave the native population smallpox, killed two-thirds of them, and then forced the rest to adopt Christianity, stop eating the local food, and wear western style clothing.

This kneeling stature may look simple but it was a stature well-known in legend and archeologists have been searching for it for decades, across many different islands of French Polynesia. This guy found it after searching for it for 10 years.

It will soon be moved to a museum home in the capitol of French Polynesia, Papeete. Jeff and D were some of the last people to see it in the original location.

This is the position the stature is holding. Kneeling with arms in front, hands in a cupping position.

Anyway, when the boys got home, they stripped off their muddy shoes and shirts and started doing cannonballs into the lagoon. After his third jump, Jeff surfaced and crawled up the ladder, dizzy with pain. I rushed over to him because he was staggering on the dock. I thought he was having a heart attack or something. It was really scary.

We’re almost positive he held his nose and hit the water at an angle and burst his eardrum.

We hit the web for information & it looks like the incredible, sudden pain is a textbook case. It will heal without treatment but it’s no fun, no fun at all.

He’s managing the pain with a combination of local beer and Advil but the real bummer is that he cannot get water in his ear or submerge his ear at all for the rest of the trip…and tomorrow is our big trip out to swim with the large lemon sharks.

Poor guy. Lemon sharks rock.

Attentively yours,

Annie