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Old 03-25-2008, 09:52 AM
Location: SE Arizona - FINALLY! :D
18,632 posts, read 21,374,238 times
Reputation: 6370


A friend of mine recently wrote to me and commented on how much he enjoyed an online posting I made many years back (2001) and after re-reading it myself, I thought maybe some of the travel junkies here might get a kick out of it.

Take note that it's just SLIGHTLY exaggerated:

My name is Ken and I am an addict.
I am addicted to Polynesia.
Like most of you poor pathetic souls out there, my addictions began innocently enough - I went on vacation.

It began with a few days in Hawaii. I told myself "it's just for a few days, I can handle it" - but the fact is: I LIKED it. Oahu was nice. The water was warm and the breezes balmy. I decided Hawaiian shirts were not so gaudy after all and bought myself a couple. "They're just shirts" I told myself, "and I'll only wear them in the islands. They're just for recreational use."
I tried shave ice. It was good.
Oh yes, Polynesia had begun its subtle seduction. Little did I know the road I was headed down. Little did I know the doom that awaited me. Yes, the water was warm and the breezes balmy - but it was nothing I couldn't control (at least that's what I told myself) - after all, I didn't even like SPAM.

I moved on to a little harder stuff: Kauai. This was nicer yet, the beaches were empty and the lifestyle more relaxed. I started "dressing down" and decided that "I could live here". I began checking the "Homes for Sale" sections of the local newspaper as I finished my breakfast of pineapple, banana, and coconut shavings in our rented condo on the beach. Soon I graduated to the innocent looking local "Homes and Land for Sale" magazines given away free (how insidious) in the local grocery stores. Oh yes, they had me hook, line and sinker - I just didn't know it yet. I told myself "I'm just on vacation. I'll go back to wearing socks when I get back to Seattle."
I was kidding myself.

Then came the big leap: we flew to Tahiti. At the time it seemed like no big deal to graduate to French Polynesia - after all, everyone else on the plane was doing it. I never noticed the silly-assed grin on the faces of the repeat travelers or the crazed look in their eyes. I never even noticed that nearly every shirt bore a bold floral print and that there was not a sock to be seen. Oh yes, this was a vessel of the damned - and I was going along for the ride - soon to be damned like the rest of them. From the moment we arrived it should have been obvious to me, but I was in denial. I was on vacation. I could do what I wanted. I could eat what I wanted. I could feel what I wanted. When I returned home all would return to normal. Oh, the air was luxuriously warm and moist when we arrived (even though it was midnight), and scented sweetly with the heady aroma of beautiful floral leis - but we were only staying for 7 days.
It was only 7 days.
I could handle it.
I was a big boy.
I could take care of myself.

The next morning we awakened to air that was thick and rich with the smell of green. The sky was robins-egg blue, the Sea of the Moon was smooth as a sheet of glass, and the lovely island of Moorea gleamed in the morning sun. "I could get used to this" I thought idly. At breakfast I tried Tahitian pineapple. It was sweet and crunchy, not at all like the stringy, slightly sour stuff I'd eaten all my life. I went back for seconds and tried some delicious French pastries. WOW! This food was GOOD! I went back for thirds. Later, we waddled back to our room, changed into our swimsuits and lounged around the pool until it was noon and time to leave for Bora Bora.
Oh yes, I REALLY liked this place.

At the airport we sweltered in line. It was hot and humid and airless but I didn't care. I was intoxicated with the tropics. Listening to a Tahitian tune on someone's boom box, I began to think that island music wasn't so corny after all. In fact, I was thinking I could grow to like it. Finally the time came to board the plane and I was off like a shot. I really didn't mean to trample that gray-haired old lady - but dang it, that walker should have been motorized. Personally, I think my dirty footprint looked pretty good against the dark green of the back of her blouse - and those scrapes and bruises were nothing that a little heavy makeup couldn't hide. It's not my fault all the best seats were taken by the time she struggled to her feet and hobbled to the plane. Besides, this way she didn't have to deal with the always difficult choice of choosing which side of the plane to sit on to get the best view - and that windowless seat in the back of the plane would be conveniently close to the door when we landed.

Too bad she was so slow trying to get off the plane with that bent-up walker - but hey, at least the footprints matched.

Now we were there at last: Bora Bora!
Could any place ever have a more exotic sounding name? Could any place ever look more beautiful? We were mesmerized by the color of the water. How could water be this color? It didn't look real - even in person! I was so happy, my grin must have gone around my head 2 1/2 times. I'm sure the top of my head was bouncing up and down like a Slinky. This was it - addict heaven. Waiting for our bags to be unloaded, I zipped from here to there, all over the dock, snapping pictures of the boats, the water, the main island off in the distance. I was a photographing fool - drunk on the South Pacific. I take no responsibility for my actions that day. It wasn't my fault. I couldn't really see where I was going through the camera viewfinder - besides, that old lady shouldn't have been standing that close to the edge of the dock anyway.

Good thing somebody there could swim. Too bad her walker went so deep. Oh well, it was kind of bent-up anyway.

Before long we were on a boat scooting across the lagoon to our hotel. Spray started flying up and into our faces and the Pearl Beach Resort folks who picked us up made to lower the plastic screens - but we would have none of it. We were reveling in the experience and loving every minute of it. Soon we saw them - our overwater bungalows, standing serenely in the turquoise waters of a vast sand bar. We pulled up to the dock and scrambled into the lobby where we were offered cool tropical drinks and invited to sit for a moment while our paperwork was dealt with. A few short yards away, the water of the lagoon beckoned - and I thought I'd pee my pants I was so excited to see what the swimming would be like. Fortunately, the wait was short and we were soon making our way along the overwater walkways to our bungalow. Along the way we ooohed and aaaahed at the colors of the fish swimming unconcernedly in the water below us. By now I was manic. I had to get into that water NOW! Once we had our Bungalow, we changed into our swimming suits in record time and climbed down the ladder from our back deck. I didn't even care that I'd gotten into the wrong suitcase and was wearing the bottoms of my wife's thong bikini. Actually, I thought I looked rather good in hot pink.

Oh my God!
The water was as warm as bathwater! We couldn't believe how terrific it was: the amazing colors of the lagoon, the beauty of the main island across the way, the warmth of the water, the absolute and total silence. It was heaven and I never wanted to leave. I was home! They would drag me from this place when they pried the wooden railings from my cold, dead hand. I was high on the South Pacific and lost in the rapture of sensory overload.

Alas, we were indeed forced to leave and now I sit here in cold gray Seattle and dream of it every day. I tried to quit "cold turkey" but couldn't do it so I started writing travel reviews and posting advice on Polynesian bulletin boards (full of other poor lost souls like myself). People wrote to me for pictures and words of wisdom and I admit (God help me) that I directed others into addiction too. They in turn were smitten and returned to do the same to others as well. It was evil, I know, but I couldn't help myself. It's an illness. And now, like a modern-day Nosferatu, I sit in the middle of my electronic web and watch my former minions post their subtle suggestions and direct others into minionhood themselves. Now I have my photos on-line and they are continuing to lure in hundreds of foolish victims each and every day. Literally thousands have read my reviews and tens of thousands have seen my photos. One of my early minions wrote to me that she'd recommended my reviews to someone in a far distant city and the person had already heard of me. I suppose in some weird way, I have become a minor (very minor) celebrity of sorts.
The electronic age is proving to be a strange time.

Yes - I have postings all over - and yet still it is not enough. I wear my Hawaiian shirts every other day and people are beginning to talk about me behind my back. I've developed a strange mango fetish and am thinking of taking up Hula lessons. I watch the Travel Channel incessantly seeking any little video snippet on the islands of Polynesia. Unfortunately, there is very little - but I can now recite each episode of "Beach Bikini Babes in Miami" word for word - hey, it's not Polynesia, but at least it's tropical.

This spring my wife joined a 12-step program called PAREO (Polynesian Addiction REcovery Organization), but programs like that are just not for me. So, I sit and I dream as my life just passes by. In desperation we decided to book a trip to lovely Puerto Vallarta, in hopes that it would lessen our need somehow. Sadly it didn't work. Oh PV was terrific and we had a good time. But somehow it just wasn't Polynesia. Finally we broke down and gave in to our primal urges - next year we are planning a trip to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. We are hoping to purge our demons there once and for all.

I really hope it works. SPAM is starting to look good (Yuck!).*


PS: If you'd like to see my photos, you might want to copy and paste the following URL to a new window and take a look:

lordbalfor's photos and albums on webshots

* For those of you who wonder what I'm referencing here, SPAM is extremely popular throughout the Pacific region - a legacy from World War II when American G.I.s brought in what was (at the time) the only source of meat available to many islanders. Hawaiians consume more SPAM per capita than any other group of Americans. They love that stuff in the islands.
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Old 03-27-2008, 09:37 AM
Location: Texas
690 posts, read 2,315,248 times
Reputation: 446

That was great! LOL! I know your addiction well - I started developing it on our first trip to Hawaii. I have to pace myself now or it'll get uncontrollable. Right now, I'm still able to cope.

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