Originally, this post started off being titled "Bora Bora ≠ Bore Bore", but somewhere in the middle, I completely forgot what my original point was because of all the rabbit trails. Hence, Rabbit Trails. I eventually got back to my first thought...it just took awhile, as most of my stories do.
As you know, Sara and Bryan got engaged the weekend before Christmas. I don't think I ever told you how they met. Well, for starters, Bryan's nickname in our family is Match.com. Aaaaaaaand that's the story of how they met. Two seconds later and we knew they were a match.com made in heaven. They were 100% .com-mitted to each other. (Bwahah, knee slapper, I could do this all day.) No, for real. They are so perfect for each other. When David and I met Bryan, we said to each other afterwards, "He's like a guy Sara." They're both obsessed with Chaco's and wear them with weird things. They both like the outdoors. They both like to do stupid stuff, like sky dive. They both like each other, which is a HUGE plus. (It's hard to find someone to like Sara...you know, because of her face.)
Ackgh! Shield your eyes!They're just the sweetest thing you ever did see. They're getting married in May and like I told you earlier, they asked me to plan their honeymoon! That's like telling my Dad that Star Trek is real.
Well, I immediately got out my notebook and started perusing every travel website the internet has to offer. Seriously, I know them all. They wanted to go somewhere exotic and tropical, so I put together a Cabo San Lucas honeymoon and a Bora Bora honeymoon. Squee!!! David and I went to Bora Bora three years ago on a South Pacific cruise to French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. We spent two days in Bora Bora.
Now, David and I have been very blessed to be able to travel to some amazing places. You all know my teensy tiny obsession with the British Isles, mainly Scotland. We traveled there four years ago on another cruise. Now, it's not like I'm one of those people that has a million Celtic tattoos (I just have one, geez) or tries to speak Gaelic (I can only say "Hello", "How are you?", and "Very good") or tears up a little bit when she hears bagpipes playing or stalk Scottish actors like Sean Connery or Gerard Butler (GERARD BUTLER!!!!!!!). And it's not like I ever went to Celtic Fests or the Highland Games in college. That's not me. I just think Celtic history is completely fascinating and it's part of my family's history, so it's really cool to me and David and I had always wanted to go.
And everything they've ever said about the British Isles is true. It's full of legend and myth and it's just swarming with ghosts of the past (not like it's haunted...but there are castles and ruins everywhere). England and Wales look like paintings. The buildings and people are so quaint and fun. Little white puffs of sheep dotting the countryside. Ireland is called the Emerald Isle for a reason. It is unrealistically green. It's like someone took a photo and maxed out the saturation. Northern Ireland is green, too, but a little more rugged and worn from the wind and waves. The Giant's Causeway was breathtaking. But, Scotland, holy monkey, Scotland...it was honestly like stepping into a Stephen Lawhead novel (my favorite author). It was other-worldy. Soft rolling hills giving way to rocky outcroppings. Mist creeping over every rise and filling the loch-sprinkled valleys. Purple heather and yellow gorse painting the countryside with an impressionistic touch. It, and I'm not ashamed to say, made my eyes get a little watery when our boat made its way to Queensferry near Inverness. It was beautiful. I wanted to snatch it up and wrap it in a box just for myself. It was a really special place. And don't even get me started on Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands. I could have stood on the shoals of that island for days. As cheesy as it sounds, time stood still there. I'm sure it doesn't for the locals who have to deal with emotional tourists like myself, but I really enjoyed myself, thankyouverymuch. (I'll tell you some Scotland stories sometimes...like the time our tour guide left us and some locals at Edinburgh helped us get to our destination and I couldn't understand anybody because of they're fabulously wonderful accents.)
Back to the original story... Of all the places that we've visited, and as fantastic as Scotland was to me, THE SINGLE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE I've ever been in my entire life, was Bora Bora. The only thing I can say is that the most picturesque postcard doesn't come close to doing that place justice. It was unreal. Watch Couples Retreat and then multiply times a million. So, when Bryan and Sara said that was an option, I kind of peed my pants. I was afraid I couldn't keep Bora Bora under my price limit, so I had Cabo as a back-up. But, I knew they really wanted to go to BB (that's getting annoying to type out), so I kept at it.
I'm not great at a lot of things. I think I'm an okay designer. I can bake cookies alright. I am exceptional at spotting toupees, a skill I learned from my father. I can change a mean diaper. But one thing I KNOW that I'm good at is travel agenting. I can find you an amazing deal on any vacation. Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com and Priceline had some BB packages for WAY more than I knew they should be. I was determined to find them a better deal and I DID. AND I ROCKED THE FACE OFF OF TRAVEL EVERYWHERE! Anyways. I found them some great flights with very few stops and layovers. And they'll be staying half their honeymoon in a beach bungalow in a 4-star resort and the other half in an over-the-water bungalow on a private island. BOO-YAH!
Sara came over yesterday morning and we booked that sucker. That was a lot of fun. And I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for them! I'm also excited that I booked a room for David and me on one side of their bungalow, a room for my parents on the other side, and a room for Bryan's parents right across the lagoon, complete with binoculars. Family vacay!
Here are some pictures from mine and David's excursion to the South Pacific. They're all kind of mixed up.
When we were docked in Tahiti, this boat was beside us. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It's the Maltese Falcon yacht (Google the full sail pictures).
We stayed for a few nights before our cruise in Papeete, Tahiti. This was the infinity swimming pool at the hotel and that's Moorea in the distance.
At the top of One Tree Hill, supposedly where Captain Cook landed.
David and I walked along the beach for awhile in Huahine and on our way back, we stopped for a second to admire the beautiful water. In the corner of my eye, I noticed it looked like the ground was moving. I turned and it WAS. There were hermit crabs everywhere. We hadn't noticed them before and then I felt bad because we had walked pretty quickly on the beach. Heading back, though, we took our time so we'd miss the little guys. See the one in the foreground?
Moorea on horizon
At (I think) the oldest marae in the South Pacific on Raiatea. This island was the original Hawaii...called "Havai'i"...which is how you're really supposed to pronounce Hawaii apparently. When Pacific Islanders came to French Polynesia wanting to be a part of the community, the king would stand everyone next to that stone behind me in the distance. If you were taller than the stone, you were sent back home. Sad, right?
At a vanilla plantation.
Where it is suitable to make vanilla mustaches.
It smelled like heaven. After hearing the process for fertilizing, tending, and harvesting the vanilla beans (all by hand), I now understand why each bean cost $5.
A pearl farm.
The black-lipped oyster...famous for the Black Pearl. No, not the pirate ship, the jewelry.
Our guide in Moorea
Our own private island
In Bora Bora, we did an excursions called helmet diving. It was definitely an adventure. You put on this super heavy helmet and climb down about 10 feet on a ladder into the water and drop another 15 to 20 feet into a coral reef. It's not for the claustrophobic. A few people on our trip changed their minds. I almost did myself. Our guide said we "might" see a few sting rays. Yeah, a few. More like a whole pack. They were everywhere. I wasn't too excited about this...you remember Steve Irwin, right? And it's not like you could move very fast. The helmets were immensely heavy. Oh, and they failed to mention this to me as I was stepping into the water. They attached mesh bags filled with bread to everyone's helmet so you could feed the fish. Well, nobody told me! So, I had this mass of brightly colored fish hovering near my head the entire time. And some would swim closer and suck your shoulder or your hand as if to say "hello!" I like to say hello to marine life from a distance. Which is why I was nervous about the flock of sting rays I saw swimming towards us from beyond the reef, out of the deep blue nothing...bum bum buuuuum. I was okay at first, because they kind of just scurried around on the floor and over the coral gardens, keeping their distance. But, eventually, as soon as I let down my guard, I turned and saw a huge one swimming right at me. He went lower and lower, aiming for my belly. I knew he was going to eat me. He went a little lower. Brilliant me thought, "Well, shoot, I'll jump over him." I leapt into the air...uh, water...and jumped up about 1". Blasted helmet! Sting ray was still coming. I pushed off the sandy bottom harder. I floated for a few seconds and looked down, not able to find the ray. I was quickly heading back to the ocean floor. Where was he?! I knew I didn't jump very high. I did a split...well, as much of one as I can do. I was going to give him as much time as I could to pass under me. I could just picture myself coming back down too early, stepping right on his wing and him shooting his barb right into my face. Inside the helmet, your oxygen pumps only as much as you breathe. If you stop breathing, it stops pumping. If you breathe like a maniac, it spurts oxygen in constantly. And bubbles spew out from behind your back. And it's all very loud and distracting. So, I'm, of course, breathing like a maniac, oxygen is going SSSSSPPPP SSSSSPPPP SSSSSPPPP SSSSPPP all around my head. Bubbles are blrrrbblrrrrbllrruruublrurblrurr behind me and all around the sides of my helmet (it was like a panoramic helmet). A swarm of zebra fish is standing around laughing at me. Sting ray is no where in sight. Finally, one of the French guides in scuba gear comes up and gives me a thumbs up, asking, "You okay?" I made the motion for "sting ray" and he looks around and says "no." I think I absorbed him. Anyways. It ended up being one of the most fun things I've ever done, as terrifying as it was. We saw all sorts of fish and eels and sea anemone and Nemo.
Look how grouchy he looks.
Sara and Bryan, y'all are going to have the most amazing time! And thanks for letting me have a ball planning the honerymooney pie!