What are the elements of a perfect day on a Lindblad expedition? Strikingly beautiful location? Check. Engaging cultural interactions? Check. Up-close encounters with wildlife? Check. Scrumptious food? Check. Gorgeous weather? Check. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Check. Okay, there were no dramatic icebergs or penguin sightings, but Polynesia can’t have everything, now can it?
If one were to look up “paradise” in the dictionary, I wouldn’t be surprised to find “Fakarava” in the second or perhaps third definition. We spent the morning exploring the main village of Roatava, where we shopped for black pearls, took a quick bike ride, or just relaxed and listened to the excellent local band that performed traditional songs at the harbor.
After yet another delicious lunch (today’s theme was Greek food, with moussaka, souvlaki, and a feta-tomato-olive leaf salad), National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez gave a thought-provoking presentation on the roots of humanity’s artistic nature and his own work documenting prehistoric cave paintings.
Many of our group then headed to the snorkel platform, where we enjoyed the best reef of the trip so far. As dozens of black-tipped sharks swam calmly around us, we were treated to an explosion of color and movement provided by swarms of exotic tropical fish. It was a like swimming in a pet-store aquarium (yet a bit more grand). I personally was entranced by a rich yellow trumpet fish.
Our day ended with a stimulating presentation by Poemoana, a world-renowned Tahitian dancer. Joined by her creative partner Mareikura Brightwell, Poemoana demonstrated the poetic nature of this ancient art form, which uses hand gestures and body movements to tell stories and legends. Banned for many years by Christian missionaries and oppressive French colonial authorities, Tahitian traditional dance has experienced a revival in recent years as young people have sought to renew their unique cultural expressions. Today was certainly a full one, and the kind that stay in one’s memories for some time.