ON MY WAY TO TAHITI - Just writing that phrase puts a smile on my face.
I'm lucky enough to have been to Hawaii many times, and a couple times to the Caribbean. But I've always dreamt of Tahiti and her islands; Bora Bora, Moorea, Taha'a, and others.
The names alone seem magical and foreign; conjuring up images of Captain Cook and Mutiny on the Bounty and fierce, noble locals who pretty much invented the tattoo. Not to mention smooth, exotic, hula-dancing women and the flowers and the lagoons and the green mountain spires and the towering palms and the endless skies and maybe the odd beach.
I've been fascinated by Polynesian culture since first reading the James Michener book Hawaii back when I was 16 or so. The story of the settlement of these islands by small bands of folks braving weeks on open water in tiny boats send shivers up my spine; all their earthly possessions and their pigs and taro root and breadfruit plants bundled up with them as they sailed to almost unknown lands over acres and acres and acres of water, relying on the stars and the shape of the seas and similar factors to guide their way over thousands of miles.
Okay, it's also pretty warm and there's awesome snorkeling and, I'm guessing, a solid bit of joie de vivre in French Polynesia, too.
Anyway, that's where I'm headed over the next 24 hours or so; going via LA and arriving at midnight or so in Papeete (early morning Sunday Toronto time). I'm checking out Moorea first and one of the original South Pacific resorts, then taking in the real reason for my visit; the Hawaiki Nui Va'a canoe race that's been called the Super Bowl of canoeing. It's a huge deal that sees teams from all over race between islands over three gruelling days, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.
I'll be filing every day, Internet connections willing. And I'll be sure to post some pictures. I probably won't have much to work with, but I'll try to make the place look decent....
COSTUME PARTY AT LAX
Pretty funny. I walk from the terminal where my Air Canada flight landed and get to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, and almost all the workers behind the counter at Japan Air Lines and Air Tahiti Nui are in costume. The Japanese workers seem dressed mostly as witches, with tall, pointy hats, but the Tahiti Nui girls are dressed like everything from Cleopatra to an angel to a Bollywood star. There are pumpkins and skeletons and such hanging from the rafters above their computers.
It's all in good fun. And it's interesting to see nobody at Pearson, at least not at Air Canada, was dressing any differently than normal. Perhaps West Jet or Porter? Or maybe it's American versus button-down Canada?
Anyway, I didn't mind. But I was happy to see the TSA safety screeners dressed in uniform and not looking like a pirate or Captain Kirk.
It was mostly my own fault. On the way to LA from Toronto today, I had a half glass of water resting on the arm of seat. I was in the bulkhead row and it was a little hard to get at the table, which didn't fold down from in front of me but was stowed in the arm rest. I had the water sitting on the arm rest when the guy came by to sell sandwiches or maybe pick up garbage. Anyway, airplane aisles being narrow and all he bumped the glass and the water went all over my lap.
He was quick to get a napkin for me to dry myself, but an apology was never offered. Like I said, it was stupid of me to put the water there. But you'd think you'd get a profuse apology no matter whose fault it was.
I usually find Air Canada service to be just fine, but I gotta say I didn't see much good cheer from this crew. Guess they're not all reading the "let's compete with West Jet and actually smile at people" memos from management.
STUPID CANADIAN TRAVEL QUESTIONS
In case you missed it, check my post from Friday, Oct. 30 for some of the DUMBEST questions you've ever heard about Canada. Pretty good stuff, I gotta say.