Day 126: Black Pearl Day

Mon. 17th December 2012

Necklace for 7,000 eurosIt is our last full day in Rangiroa and we still have not cycled, kayaked or snorkelled off the hotel jetty, so with regimented precision we plan our day.

First off is bike hire and as the road is only 12 km long two hours should cover it. We debate over whether the bikes here are worse than Moorea. I say yes as I do not like bikes where the brakes are applied by pedalling backwards, but Dave says no as at least his handlebars are fixed. Also there is no problem with the gears here – there are none.

Fishing off the pierOur hotel is at the midpoint of the road and the plan is to cycle away from the airport, as we drove that way for the drift pass excursion. We head for Village d’Avatoru and before we know it we are applying the dubious brakes to avoid cycling off the end of the road into the sea. The village comprises of a bank, a supermarket, a souvenir shop, a marina and two churches. However we do stay a while watching the locals fishing at the end of the road/pier.

Our rusty bikes and OllyWe return the bikes well before our two hours are up, especially as Dave’s chain came off when the road got bumpy! Also we wanted to get to the supermarket before it shut at lunchtime for 2 1/2 hours.

Boats in the harbourIn view of weather forecast and the timings for a tour to a local Pearl farm I decide to squeeze this in after lunch rather than tomorrow morning, and I go on the 1:45 tour. A very smart minivan picks five of us up from the hotel (Dave opts out) – is this an indication of the markup on the pearls?!? It was interesting to see how the pearls are made and the spacious lagoon allows for quite a large “farm” – well area of lagoon for the oysters to cultivate their pearls. It takes two years foe an oyster to be old enough  to grow a pearl and each oyster can produce three pearls in its lifetime, the third pearl is so big that the oyster has to be opened so wide to extract it that the oyster dies. The rate at which the guy implants a small round bead made from a shell from America (as they are thicker), into the small opening is so quick he implants a tray full of oysters in no time.

Inserting pearl beadNext is the trip into the showroom full of Tahitian pearls of all shapes and sizes, only the smooth round ones with minimal imperfections are grade A.  I was disappointed that most of them were a dull grey colour and being more a shiny gold kind of girl was not inspired to buy anything. A few had a shiny blue or green tint which occurs naturally, as they are not polished to make them shine. My credit card stayed securely in my pocket – maybe in Papeete, I may be inspired but doubt it as grey is just not my colour!

Next up is the two man kayak and snorkelling. It could have been divorce time as it is difficult to get the timing right with two people at the oars. Luckily(?) for us torrential rain came from nowhere so it was a quick U-turn and back to the beach. As we were already wet through we thought we may as well go snorkelling which we had been told was good off the hotel pier.  It is a weird sensation snorkelling with rain hitting your bum but the fish were still around the coral for us to watch. I was even stalked by two angel fish who insisted on coming within touching range and swam around me causing me to swim in circles.

Wait for meThe lagoon water was so warm that it was the cold rain that brought us in and back to the bungalow for a hot shower (not too hot as it stung on my sunburned thighs from yesterday’s boat trip home).

For our last night  in Rangiroa we opted to eat out at “Restaurant Le Dauphin Gourmand” which is recommended in Frommers as the best in the Island. The restaurant collected us from the Hotel along with Scott and Raquel in the pouring rain and the four of us squeeze into the back seat of a big pickup truck as there was another couple to pick up.

Our research was not good as we did not realise it was a set menu, which did not come cheap. If the food had been as good as the hype we would not have minded, but it was not. Also we were unable to take advantage of the good views out to sea as the canvas shutters were pulled down to keep the rain out. A bit disappointing but you cannot get it right every time.

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