The title of this post is a reference to The Lord of the Rings. Yep. Let that sink in and read on.
John and I were lucky enough to be in French Polynesia during Hawaiki Nui Va’a, which is an international canoe race championship. It happens once per year, and is the biggest sporting event of the islands. It’s a three-day outrigger extravaganza; 80+ sponsored canoe teams of 6 men paddle between two islands each day. The longest race day is from Taha’a to Bora Bora, over 68 kilometers (which is probably a LOT of miles). The resort had all sorts of special things planned, from event-related excursions to a ridiculously extensive tiny-food lunch display to a fantastic dinner buffet, featuring cuisine from around the world. So fun!
We had planned on trying to paddle out in sea kayaks to see the canoes go by. We learned that there was an excursion available where we could board a motor boat and follow the race from start to finish on day two. That day’s race started on Raiatea and ended on Taha’a. We wanted to be a part of this special local event, so we signed up!
The morning we left was simply gorgeous. Though there had been sporadic rain showers in the week that we’d been there, it was a sunny, blue day. Perfect for being on the water!
As we approached Raiatea, I started to realize that this was a pretty big deal. We paused at a dock to stock up on water and beer, and everyone AND their grandmother seemed to be in a frenzy to board a boat and get out on the water before the race began. Music was pumping from giant yachts and tiny motorboats. You could feel the excitement in the air!
Suddenly, we were moving, and there were colorful canoes everywhere- 87 total. The race had begun! As we cruised along the shoreline, I was more intrigued by the local people lined up to see the boaters than the actual race. They’d come out in droves. This was a BIG deal. The further out into the sea we went, the more this became apparent.
The men in the canoes were paddling with all of their strength. And they were FAST. I wondered how they could keep up this degree of effort for the entire race- they had miles and miles to go!
Motorized boats were literally everywhere. HUGE catamarans and sailboats and jet-skis. There seemed to be no traffic rules on the sea- boats were weaving in and out of each other’s paths, creating waves from their wakes for the racers. It was madness! When our guide opened the cooler and offered us a Hinano (Tahitian beer), we accepted. Cheers! It was, after all, just like the Superbowl!
We cheered for random canoe teams and sipped our beers and laughed with the other people on our boat. It was really the best people-watching experience ever, seeing boats of all shapes and sizes cruise by carrying people of all shapes and sizes. It was a blast!
Toward the end of the race, we pulled away from the massive crowd of boats. Nature called for a few of us, and the only option was over the side! In we went, giggling away. What a day.
The guide helped me back onto the boat quickly- it wasn’t very safe to be in the water, even off to the side of the race. As I dried off with a towel, John boarded the boat with wide eyes and a pale face. He held up his left hand.
It was bare.
“It’s gone. My ring. It’s gone!” As he’d reached up to grip the hand of the guide and board the boat, he’d felt his wedding ring slip off and go flying into the sea. There was nothing to be done. It wasn’t safe to be swimming around, and the water there was over 100 feet deep.
He’d worn that ring proudly…for just a week and a half.
Sympathetic eyes surrounded us on the boat. A few people offered their own stories of lost wedding rings, in support. We were quiet on the way back to the resort, thinking about our wedding day. There was no point in being angry or upset. Despite the sentimental attachment to the actual ring, it could be replaced. John rubbed his ring finger repeatedly, and I could see the grief on his face.
We had an incredible meal when we returned to Le Taha’a. The chef had turned out a feast of tiny food, everything imaginable. We poured wine and toasted the lost ring, now a sparkly decoration on the ocean floor, our thank you gift to the island of Taha’a for such an amazing trip so far.
And with that, we headed into the spa. We had a unique couples’ treatment scheduled. A scalp, hand and foot treatment was followed by a massage under the warm rain-like sprinkles of a Vichy shower. AMAZING. We sat on a private patio after the massage, sipping lemon water and soaking in the scenery.
We’d had so much adventure on our trip so far, and it was only halfway through. Sure, his wedding ring was now Tahitian fish food. But we’re married. And we don’t need a ring to prove that.
And you know I love a good story.
Next up: New digs and the end of an unforgettable trip!
My mouth fell open when I saw the massage set up. OMG. That is pure bliss! Sorry about the ring:( Kinda a funny story though! xx
The massage zone was insane and the best experience ever! Spahhhhhhhh.
The ring story is one we’ll be telling for the rest of our marriage. I kind of love that.
Oh, my heart sank when I saw the heading, too. I’m so sorry about the ring, but I’m so happy that you have a love so wonderful and filled with happiness and adventure that you already know you don’t need it to prove something.
Ya, it was a big bummer at first and then we realized that we can order another one. It wasn’t my ring, which was his grandmother’s. It wasn’t HIM. So it’s ok. Good thing we took a lot of photos of our hands with our shiny new rings before that!
Oh no, I’m sorry about the ring, that’s such a bummer. I’m really glad that you had a good time though, that food looks amazing!
We are SO glad we experienced the event, and yes, the celebration food was totally amazing!
you take such great pictures of your vacations, it makes me wanna go everywhere. The food looks delicious and the event must have been fun [I love people watching, I get many ideas for characters by it] losing the wedding ring is bummer but like you said, the important thing is that you’re married, everything else can be replaced.
I feel like my point-and-shoot camera does pretty well – but it’s usually because I’m in a stunning location!!
I’m sorry to hear that the ring was lost. I hope you get to replace it soon! But those pictures look wonderful, and it seems like you’re having a great time, so that’s what counts. =D I especially love the pictures of food; it looks so delish!
The new ring was on order the day after we returned! John can’t wait to wear it again- he’s been wearing a blue plastic one instead!
Ugh! What a great story. You’re so right. A ring can be replaced — it’s what it symbolizes that can’t be. You still got that, AND you have a great story!
That race wasn’t LIKE the Superbowl, it was better than the Superbowl. If I had to choose tickets to one or the other, I’d pick that race. Too cool to enjoy on your honeymoon.
Amber, I just love your posts and photos! I hope to have some time to go backward and catch up this weekend.
Thank you so much for reading!! It means a lot to hear that my favorites still want to see what I have to say.
The canoe race was so cool- just a unique time to be in French Polynesia that made our trip different than the 100s of other honeymoons there. Love that!
Awww 😦 So sorry about the ring…but WOW, but a gift to the ocean floor of Taha’a! 🙂 That is one for the storybooks!
And seriously, 100 ft deep? I freak out easily in 8 feet of water! You are so brave!
It looks heavenly there…I’m dropping hints to my husband. Maybe I should just show him these photos!! 🙂
I hope a big old hermit crab snagged it and decorated the inside of his shell with the ring!
Still drooling over these ridiculous photos. Props for the Lord of the Rings reference, but I am quietly hoping you aren’t hunched over your camera, flicking through the replay setting and whispering sweet nothings to your photos. If you do find yourself in this situation, perhaps you should consider a future vacation to New Zealand to pay a trip to Mt. Doom…
HAHAHAH! I will pretend I did that if it means going to New Zealand…
It counts in my book!
Sounds like such a fun day!! Definitely on my bucket list now. Such a bummer about the ring, poor John!! The upside?? He only had it for a week. We’ve had ours for almost 12 years and I think they mean more now than they ever used to. I can’t imagine losing one now. But you’re right, it is just a “precious” ring and can be replaced!
It was SO cool to be a part of it and right there IN it. As for the ring, I know what you mean- wedding rings do take on more meaning as the years go by. John’s got his new one now and it makes me happy to see him wearing it! I wonder if a fish ate the other one…
What a great line “now a sparkly decoration on the ocean floor.” It seems as if you took it in good stride. And, how can you not? Just look at the beauty and tranquility surrounding you both. I’m sure there were plenty of good memories too. The photos are stunning!
There was nothing we could do, and the ring was replaceable. John was just so excited to be married- he wore a plastic ring until his replacement was ready. Swoon.