Monday, March 30, 2009

Afternoon around the island...

Once we left the roadside beach, we continued our drive around the island and stopped at the Toatea Overlook. The view was gorgeous. We could see the island of Tahiti rising magnificently on the horizon and it just looked monstrous.

Directly below were the overwater bungalows of the Sofitel Moorea Beach Resort, as well the as the beautiful green-blue lagoon speckled with brown from the coral.

Watching the waves crash from above, Nate snapped a picture of me in all the windy glory. It was always windy!

From the Toatea Overlook, we traveled back down the hill and turned onto a windy dirt road surrounded by a coconut grove, which took us to the Temae Plague Publique, Moorea's finest stretch of public beach. The beach is an extention of the Sofitel Resort beach. One of the nice things about sticking to the resort beaches is that the staff rakes the coral and driftwood from the sand. So at this public beach, it took us a bit to find a "smooth" spot to lay down our towels.

It was nice seeing a few locals in their element, especially for Nate. A couple of topless ladies strolled by in the surf--back and forth a couple of times. There were also a couple of families out enjoying the beach. We only layed out about an hour. It was HOT and we (well, probably me mostly wink) were getting hungry and needed to find some lunch.

I had noticed a restaurant called Maria Tapas in our guide book. We had already eaten so much French food at that point, we were looking for something different. What better than Tex-Mex! The restaurants there typically had an outdoor element and this one was no exception. It was entirely outside, with a teeny tiny kitchen and just a handful of tables.

We both ordered a beer, Our first experience with Tabu beer and it was the beer we ended up drinking the majority of the trip. It was similar to a Corona and tasted fabulous after time in the sun.. Ahh! cool The waiter was nice enough to snap a picture of us with our lunch. Can you tell I'm a little red?

The food was quite tasty and the fresh taste we were looking for. After lunch, we made stops at several gift shops like this one.

The shops sold a variety of merchandise. Every shop had pareos, which were cloth wraps in vibrant colors. The shops also had jewelry, knick knacks, other clothing, lotions and soaps, etc. It was fun tooling around and looking at souvenirs. We also picked up some groceries at the supermarket while we were out. Definitely the way to go to save some money.

We were able to circle the island and see some residences and Moorea's one golf course. One thing I was bummed about was that my travel book talked about a waterfall, but come to find out the waterfall had dried up about a year before, so no waterfall viewing for us. Oh well. sad When we got back to the resort, we were there just in time to catch the sunset...

and I got to finish the day off just as I would have hoped...curled up in a lounge chair with my book!

We took a shuttle to dinner that evening at Coco d'lle and had our first pizza on Moorea. The restaurant had some different ambiance with it's sand floors and casual atmosphere.

It was a nice ending to our day of exploration.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The way down...

On our way down from Belvedere Lookout, we made a stop at the Titiroa Marae.

A marae is a temple in the times before Christianity was introduced to the island. Accoriding to my travel book, Titiroa Marae had supposedly been restored. However, all we were really able to see were a few old walls and general foundations. The towering chestnut trees had grown right up through some of the rocky foundations.

According to the history we read about on this informational display, apparently human sacrifices were made here and Polynesian Chiefs also used to practice their archery here as well.

Shortly after we turned off of the road leading from Belvedere Lookout, we spotted this beautiful beach area along the road. Of course, we had to stop!

I never got over the beauty of the bright blue water the whole time we were there. Also, the water was pretty warm...I waded in a bit to give it a test...

While we were admiring the beach front view, we met a couple from New York, also on their honeymoon. Imagine that! We got to chatting about things to do around the island and how they were enjoying their trip so far. They were off to Bora Bora next, just like us. If I haven't mentioned it previously, it seemed like everyone we met was from the East Coast. We certainly never ran into anyone from the middle of the USA. The couple was nice enough to snap this picture of us...

And I snapped one of Nate checking out the view.

Up next, lunch and the rest of our afternoon...


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Review: Escape

One of my friends just started a book club that I am now a part of and I just finished our assigned book for this month. Escape by Carolyn Jessop is a story of the life Jessop led in the cult-like Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) with her 8 children--and her eventual escape from FLDS and her polygamous marriage.

This was one of those books that was so horrifying, I couldn't stop reading it. Here are just a few tidbits that I found unbelievable:

  • FLDS members are brainwashed from birth with the fundamental belief that they are saints and everyone else is evil
  • Girls as young as fourteen were married to 86 year old men.
  • Women and children are constantly physically and emotionally abused and manipulated
  • Wives are not allowed to travel without their husband's permission, drive a car, make any decision about medical care for their children, get an education or keep their own paychecks
  • Small children were forced to watch and listen to animals screaming as they’re tortured and killed to teach them that anyone who feels compassion for animals is evil.
  • A teenage wife was dragged into an assembly of boys and tortured to show them how to treat their (future) wives.
  • “Favored” wives were given full reign to torture younger wives and their children: Jessop's sister wife Barbara spanked an INFANT so hard he turned blue from screaming.
  • Men withheld critical medical care for small children because it was proof that their mothers were disobedient.
  • And the list goes on and on...
Jessop was so beaten and worn down 17 years into her marriage, I'm not sure how she found the strength to escape. Her abusive husband and the corruptive leadership in the FLDS made her life living hell. Her courage to save herself and her children regardless of the consequences was beyond heroic.

There was a little retribution as the leader of the FLDS, Warren Jeffs, was sent to prision in 2007. But those poor women and children. It is truly shocking to know that things like this go on in America.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adventures in Red Velvet

Among the many gifts I received over the Christmas holiday, my friend Lisa got me a red velvet cupcake mix. And not just any cupcake mix, but a mix from none other than the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes in CA! Lisa has told me about this place and we've always talked about going there when I'm out for a visit, but we have yet to make it. So instead of tasting one of their yummy cupcake flavors in person, I was able to make my own at home. Now if only I could charge $3.25 a cupcake... razz

I'll let you be the judge, but I think I came pretty close to their decorating style. Not bad for the first time, anyway...

I started by whipping up the batter in my good ol' KitchenAid stand mixer. The good thing about having the red velvet as a mix is that the food coloring was already in the boxed mix, meaning no playing around with red food coloring and turning my fingers red.

Once the batter was ready to go, I transferred the batter to my paper cups in my cupcake pan and put them in the oven. They came out very even and springy.

I got my mixer going again for the best part...the cream cheese frosting!

Once that was ready to go and my cupcakes were cooled, I got out my flat frosting knife and slathered on the frosting. The directions were very specific that to get the Sprinkles signature look, to use the frosting knife to flatten the outside edge of icing.

Pretty snazzy, eh? As you can see, the kit also came with decorative candy pieces for the middle of the cakes...very mod. And from the Sprinkles website, it looks like they decorate each different cupcake flavor with a different colored candy decoration.

Here are my dozen in all their glory!

I took them to a trivia night fundraiser and shared them with my "trivia team." Each person had one and I got a couple of compliments, so all's well that ends well. I had one too and they were quite yummy...and quite rich!

Still one of my favorite cake flavors...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cook's Bay & Belvedere Lookout

We had a rental car for an entire day while we were in Moorea. And since the road around the island is a mere 60 km (36 miles) long, we had plenty of time to see all the sites....and circle the island multiple times! smile

That morning, we packed our beach towels, sunscreen and fresh french baguette and were on our way in our little Peugeot. Isn't it cute?

I seriously felt bigger than the car! Lucky for me it was a stick, so Nate had to drive. The driving in Moorea is just like in the U.S. - drivers and cars on the sides we're used to, so it felt like we were right at home. Well, except for the bright blue water, mountains, gorgeous scenery... Okay, so maybe it wasn't much like home after all. wink

We pulled over at Cook's Bay and snapped some shots of the towering mountains and the anchored boats.

Cook's Bay was virtually surrounded on three sides by jagged peaks, so it was quite peaceful. Driving farther along the bay, we saw Mount Mauaroa, Moorea's famous "shark tooth" mountain. I can understand the comparison...

Leaving Cook's Bay, we began making our way up to Belvedere Lookout. It was just so gorgeous and sunny that morning--a telltale sign that it was going to be HOT--but a perfect day to be out driving around, the breeze whipping through your hair.

According to my travel book, the pasture land in this central valley is where Annette Benning and Warren Beatty strolled in their flop movie, Love Affair. Too bad about the movie, but I can understand why it was shot there. Amazing!

Once we arrived at the top, we saw some interesting sights. Some off-roading, dune buggy type vehicles...

The ever present rooster (they were running around EVERYwhere) and would even wake us up in the mornings...

And, of course, the awesome panorama of the bays on either side of the mountain (the other bay is called Opunohu Bay and is now where all the major cruise ships dock).

It really was a beautiful site. Just look how the colors pop...everything is so green and blue!

And yes, the always necessary self portrait!

While up there, we noticed a couple of different paths leading off into the woods and we decided to take a little hike and see where the path would lead.

It was nice to get out of the sun for a bit and exercise our legs. It was a short little path that lead to an alternate view of the bays.

While walking, we kept coming across this same type of tree with exposed roots. We certainly don't have anything like this where I come from...

Kind of wicked looking.

As we descended the mountain from the lookout, I was certainly thinking it was one of the most beautiful things I had seen yet.


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