Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Perks of the "Rich" in Bora Bora

Mark and I have a wealth, not of money – unfortunately – but of time and adventures, and until not too long ago, age and health. Most visitors coming to Bora Bora have the kind of wealth that comes to mind first when you talk about wealth: the money kind, the big bucks, the means to go on fancy vacations. All those pretty over-the-water bungalows, or villas as they call them here, look very attractive. Sure, you can see the neighboring huts, or the ones from the next resort over, but some sort of privacy is offered, the water underneath looks very appealing, the comfort level is very high end, and the view of the lagoon and Bora Bora’s mountain is suburb. All the resorts on the motus (outer islands) have upscale restaurants and “private” beaches, and offer all the luxury one can imagine. No wonder this place is a prime honeymoon destination.

But, what does all that cost? Mark and I were curious and went online to have a look. The average over-the-water accommodation costs about $1000 a night. That is without meals or even breakfast. Depending on the location and the size of the villa you prefer, costs go up to about $10,000 for one night. The resorts on the “mainland” of Bora Bora are generally cheaper – some even half price; wow, only $500 a night! - than the ones on the motus. We briefly played with the idea of going out for a meal or a drink in one of the places, since we have so many past occasions we never celebrated. We even went ashore at the St. Regis – one of the top resorts on Bora Bora – to get some information. The hostess was eager to get our business – despite our raggedy outfit (we really don’t fit in with the crowds here) – but didn’t have much useful information to tell us. “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it!”

Back online, the dinners ranged from about $40 to over $100 a piece, the sushi was outrageously priced. Bottles of wine started at $30, I believe, but the bigger selection was more in the $70 price range for one bottle. You could even buy a Cuban cigar for the same amount of money. The desserts were priced like a dinner in the more down-to-earth places of the western world. Fresh coconut water, straight out of the nut with a straw, went for $10, while on the street in Fare, such an ice cold and tasty local refreshment costs $1. And, that is probably about the going rate for everything at the resorts – ten to one. A bit disgusted by all this (they even charge $30 a day for WiFi if you stay there!), and not even feeling up for spending $8 a beer or $5 a soda, we stayed on Irie, made ourselves a drink and enjoyed the same marvelous view for free. I guess we are your typical kind of cruiser after all… :-)

With all the boutiques and souvenir stores for the hordes of honeymooners, Mark and I thought it might be a good idea to find a birthday gift in the otherwise shabby town of Vaitape. Once again, everything is so over-priced (and, granted, we are a bit spoiled having seen, and purchased, the pearls in the Gambier Islands) or of poor quality, that we went home empty handed. We’ll find something somewhere else. We are not in a rush; we have time, remember?

One afternoon, while we stayed on a mooring ball off the Mai Kai marina and yacht club, I took advantage of their pretty infinity pool. It had been many years, since I dipped my toes in some fresh water to cool off, and the feeling of just sliding in and having all the tiredness and hotness leave my weightless body was amazing. I met the (well-paid and hardworking) crew of the mega yacht Noble House (on which we received a tour by the departing captain later), which was docked at the marina. The friendly folks enriched me with stories of how the “other side” lives and offered me a delicious glass of white wine. In the evening, Mark and I joined them again for some social times and drank the happy hour beers and wine. Spending a reduced price of $12 for two glasses of fair tasting wine (beers are two for one during happy hour, wine is half price for the second glass) made me crave one of the glasses the mega yacht crew was drinking. While they drank, ate, and laughed the night away, fitting in with their nice clothes and chic demeanor, Mark and I walked back to our dinghy barefoot (the soles had come off my recently purchased flip flops) and went home to drink water and eat leftovers.

Nevertheless, despite all the boat wake and trash burning, and despite some tinges of jealousy of the happily spending and enjoying vacationers, we are fortunate and glad to be able to be here, rich in our own ways, and to combine our daily work schedule and boat chores with the beauty of these Society Islands, savoring (almost) everything they have to offer. Improving the performance of the wind meter: check. Cleaning Irie’s bottom and waterline: check. Sewing some ripping seams on the bimini: check. Cleaning the BBQ: check (no more grilling until we sell the boat!). Fixing the outboard engine: almost check! Writing articles and finishing up the new Wirie products: getting there… Busy times on Irie, as always. :-)

Replacing the bearings of our wind meter

Nothing broke during this tricky project - time to bring it back up!

Irie in the waters of Bora Bora

Monthly cleaning of Irie's bottom - it's not too bad yet

Irie's garden is growing again: basil, spinach, mint and an attempt for lettuce

We were allowed to walk on the southeastern motu, but only so far...

After a long workday, we stretched our legs around sunset

Sailing in Bora Bora's lagoon

Being passed by a charter captain, in a hurry...

Northern motus of Bora Bora

Va'a paddlers riding the wake of a charter boat near Vaitape

Trying to figure out how to make our engine run better

Tasty Thai curry dish on Irie

Anchorage off motu Toopua (western Bora), with motu Tapu (no going ashore here!) in the center

No comments: