August 11

Wow, he's gone. The quiet is strange. Not that he is a loud person, far from it, Danny is a very quiet individual, most of the time. Its 4:10pm and a few minutes ago a water taxi pulled up to the boat and took him off. He's on the way to the airport at Raiatea right now. It seems he was never here. He arrived a week ago in Huahine and we had a really nice time the last week. We swam and did some scuba diving, we ate some good food, drank a bit too much, had a great time.

Jonah started crying the minute he was in the taxi. The boat had barely pulled away when he started crying that he didn't get a goodbye kiss. He had several about 5 minutes before. He cried over and over. We told him to throw magic kisses and Kate did the kiss with the palm of the hand thing. Jonah said "I don't believe in any of that magic kiss stuff". He is sooo cute. As I watched the taxi recede I felt the quietness envelop us. Though he was only here a week, our memories of his visit will last a long time.

One of the topics of discussion while he was here was how come we didn't have more visitors! Strangely, we anticipated this lack of guests. At first we thought we would have a stream of friends and family visiting us. Everyone we told about our plans screamed they wanted to come sail with us in some idyllic tropical paradise (like where we are now). After a while we began to realized very few people were even remotely serious, and most of those would end up not showing either due to scheduling difficulties, the intrusions of "real life" which we don't have to face of course, or other factors. By the last year ashore getting ready to leave we began inviting everyone we knew, everyone we met, strangers on the street in the secret knowledge that it would make them feel good to be invited yet we knew none would ever actually show. Of course I invited my brother early on to come spend some time with us and I really didn't think he would come. But so far, he is one of the few and has actually visited us twice. The first time in Mexico in January.

But it will be hard to top our current location; when Danny comes next to visit us (who knows where) he will inevitably compare it to this spot we are anchored at now. I have to say it is truly the most beautiful place we have been to date. Without comparison. Its not the Tuomotus, with uninhabited atolls, clear water and the best diving in Eastern Polynesia. But it has a view that cannot be compared with Huahine to the East and Bora-Bora to the West, a string of sandy motus stretching along the outside of the lagoon, the main island of Taha'a in the center, and a shelf of clear shallow water stretching as far as you can see. Its hard to describe of course, but trust me, it is an amazing spot. We are anchored right in front of a little resort with only 3 over-water bungalows and a half dozen others on shore. A small restaurant and bar, really nice grounds, and a great beach. No pool, but they don't have the water resources to maintain it - the hotel is on a small motu on the edge of the reef!

On the motu next door (about 2 miles) is a restaurant called "Taha'a Grill" where we had lunch today (the hotel said their lunch service is fully booked). The Taha'a Grill is on a tiny motu rented by a French couple who run the restaurant and live there with the 4 year old daughter. The husband (also Head Cook and Bottle Washer) also has a speed boat which he drives around the island selling pastries, bread, fruit and drinks to all the cruising sailboats and charter sailboats anchored around the island. We actually met him 4 days ago when he pulled up to our boat at anchor at another location on Taha'a. We bought a half dozen Pain du Chocolate and they were amazing. Turns out he bakes them himself each morning before he makes the rounds. We made him promise to come to our boat first tomorrow morning!

Taha'a is by far our favorite island in the Society group and in French Polynesia overall in my opinion, with the slight reservation that the diving in the Tuomotus was so amazing and the atolls so beautiful that it does come in a close second. If I had a second chance I would skip the Marquesas (ok, skim through them in 2 weeks) and spend all my time in Tuomotus and Huahine and Taha'a.

Raiatea, the sister island (larger by 2 to 3 times) and just to the South, is well developed and lacks that pristine, empty look that Taha'a has, at least the Northern part we visited, the Southern part of Raiatea is nicer I have heard. But it has good stores. You could spend months visiting all the anchorages in the two islands and never leave the protection of the lagoon! No wonder the charter companies all have bases here!