January 16 2013
We were drinking too much. Napping too much. Watching too much Lost. Eating too much. Feeding the fish too much bread.
I had renamed our island ‘Monsoon Island’ because winds howled all night long. We couldn’t believe in the sleepiest place in the world– we couldn’t even sleep.
One night at 3AM I grabbed my iphone and opened the sliding glass door to record what it sounded like at night. Here’s what our hut sounded like inside then outside:
It actually got to the point where it was scary. We were alone in this hut over the water with winds were so strong it sounded like sky monsters whirling.
By morning day three, things started getting surreal. Groundhogs Day-ish. Same breakfast in the same place. Same waitress. Same vanilla songs. Same other couple who weirdly never acknowledged us. Same little bird with a mangled foot begging us for crusts. (‘Crutchie’) Same rain pattern. Same clothes.
We started to take note of the fact that this seemed like an island mental institution. It was all about remaining calm. No shake-ups with the menu. No new people. No new waitress. Same bland music. same table. We talked about how weird it all was and kept watch to avoid succumbing to the noticeable drag of mental undertowing.
Although we were still having fun with the disaster of our trip. Laughing about it. Our outbursts of laughter soon made me realize something about our laughter. I never heard it from anyone but us. None of the other couples ever laughed. Neither did the staff. Once I had flagged the fact that I never heard laughter beyond our own– it got a little weird. I started listening for it. There was none to be heard.
One afternoon while the wife napped. I wandered away to sit at the pool bar under a thatch roof in the pouring rain and drink Tahitian beer.
The bartender (mid-20’s) had never traveled into the world beyond the island of Tahiti. His english was about as good as my french. He spoke a mixture of broken english and french at me. I spoke a mixture of broken french and english back at him.
Our conversations were like this:
Me: You voire movies? Hollywood? Cinema?
Bartender: Oui. Movies. Oui.
Me: Tom Cruise.
Bartender: Ah! Oui. Tom Cruise!
Bartender: Oui. Avengers. Cap-ee-tan America. Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Me: Oui. Arnuld.
Bartender: Ils famoos?
Me: They famous?
Bartender: Oui. Fam-ous.
Me; Oui. Famous.
Me: Televis-ee-on? Le Tele? Tu voire?
Me: Uhh… Le Simp-see-ons? Tele?
(I humm the Simpsons theme in a french accent)
Bartender: Simp-see-ons? No.
Me: No? Homer? Simp-see-ons?
Bartender: No Simp-see-ons?
Bartender: Oui! Spidermon!
As our conversation waned– another staffer stopped by and we started talking. She spoke english. I asked her if there were any other alternatives nearby to go eat. Lunch? Dinner? Could we travel by boat anywhere? The staffer told me we could order pizza. (Pizza?) You order it and they deliver by boat!
Considering it’s coming from another island. By boat. And it’s ‘pizza’ from beyond Bora Bora. It would probably be soggy and awful but still in the running for a better average dinner at the resort. She got me a pizza menu. It was amazing to see regular prices. A pizza was 1500. Salad 800.
She also told me about a restaurant across the way called. Restaurant Chez Louise. Quick boat ride over to Taha’a. She said the food was very good and Louise is a famous local chef.
I headed back to the room feeling like I’d made amazing progress. I had options for the wife! I burst in the hut door (three beers in) and announced we could stay inside and order pizza and watch Lost! OR take a boat ride at night to another island to eat at ‘Restaurant Chez Louise.’ It sounded fancy.
The wife said pizza and Lost was a dark road on vacation. We decided to go Chez Louise. Both of us got dressed. Restaurant Chez Louise! Right on the water.
I imagined a hidden bistro. Perhaps a well-worn gem hidden in the South Pacific. Filled with international spies and mustachioed jewel thieves. We had the hotel arrange for a boat taxi and headed across the water in the pouring rain.
Restaurant Chez Louise ended up being easily one of the top three most memorable dinners of my entire life.