We’ve had an absolute blast in Bora Bora. What made it so special?
(1) I learned an interesting lesson in US History – As a result of the stories the boys told back ‘home’ after “Operation Bobcat”, Bora Bora holds a special place in the US imagination.
In early 1942, the US military established a key strategic presence in Bora Bora deploying over 5000 military personnel, more than the entire population of Bora Bora at the time.
It is said that when the American ships landed, the locals came out to greet them in their outrigger canoes. Given how friendly the people of Bora Bora are, I believe it.
The military built out this Pacific supply base with roads and an airstrip (French Polynesia’s only airport until 1960) and placed seven artillery guns around the island to thwart enemy attack of the base. The attack never happened. The US closed the base in 1946. The road, airport, and (disarmed) guns still remain.
(2) The People – The people of Bora Bora are incredibly beautiful regardless of whether they are working, competing, performing, playing or celebrating.
Friendly and welcoming, they will invite you into their home to watch the World Cup and give you the shirt off their back if you ask (read more in the ‘Friends’ section of this post)
I enjoyed photographing them both in their daily life and during the opening days of the “Heiva i Bora Bora”, the annual singing, dancing and traditional sports competition.
**Update 1 July 2014 – Added this brief video Young Heiva Dancers to Amandla’s YouTube Channel**
(3) The Sea – We enjoyed some great snorkeling with sting rays and black tip sharks. The Captain captured these moments with his Go Pro. You can see the wonderful films he created, ‘Sting Ray City‘ and ‘Shark Alley‘, on our YouTube channel.
Now that The Captain has a Go Pro, I get to play with his underwater camera when we snorkel.
(4) The View – The colors in Bora Bora are so vivid that the place doesn’t seem real. I’ve tried to capture the beauty of Bora Bora in a couple of photos below, but highly recommend you look at Margo and Steve Kelley’s blog as Margo took the most beautiful pictures of Mount Otemanu that I have ever seen.
(5) Old Friends and New – The thing we enjoyed most about Bora Bora was spending time with friends.
We were sorry to see Steve and Margo Kelley depart after spending our last two days together in Bora Bora. We are continuing to try to convince them to join us again in Tonga or New Zealand!
After their departure, we were able to reconnect with two friends that we met in Toau last season, Rene and Cheryl Tuerlings from SY Gypsy Blues.
And it just kept getting better when my friends Jean and Dan Thompson arrived for a five day visit from Chicago. We laughed a lot, enjoyed many dinners on and off Amandla, and toured the island with a wonderful guide named Rapa.
We initially hired Rapa to take us on a 4×4 tour of the island. The tour so entertaining that we decided to book a second tour snorkeling by the sea. When Rapa dropped Jean and Dan off at the conclusion of the second tour, my friend Dan asked him where he could buy a t-shirt like the one Rapa was wearing (Rugby Haka). According to Jean, Rapa took the shirt right off his back and gave it to Dan, then Rapa gave Dan the necklace he was wearing all week and then he gave Jean his flowered crown/hat. Rapa drove off wearing Dan’s shirt………
Their time with us was too short, but luckily, we were still had the company of Rene and Cheryl from SY Gypsy Blues for a few days before they sailed north to Hawaii. We enjoyed many happy hours together and Rene’s yummy bagels. And I was incredibly touched when Cheryl gave me a lovely gift of Ahe Pearls before departing.
We weren’t alone for long. Our friends John, Ivy and John from SY Ruby Slippers arrived right after Gypsy Blues departed and we got to enjoy dinner and the second night of the Heiva together. We hope to see them again in Moorea.
We are heading out tomorrow to Taha’a with our new friends Pierre and Ann from SY Iatiiti. Then its off to Tahiti where we hope to reconnect with more sailors that we met last year.
Come visit us!