A Run in the Sun


If you’ve ever been to the South Pacific, you know that in addition to beautiful blue skies and crystal clear water, temperatures (to say nothing of the humidity) can hit unbelievable, record-breaking highs – especially around noon.

On this particular day, a lady friend and I had just arrived on the island of Morea, a short flight from Tahiti. After a short trip by tuk-tuk (a form of glamorized golf cart) from the airport to our lovely, but rustic resort, we unpacked in our waterfront hut and decided that a swim was definitely in order.

We quickly donned our swimwear and spotted an outrigger canoe that the resort had thoughtfully provided for guest-use. We made our way to a rather secluded part of the lagoon, beached our outrigger and plunged into the wonderfully warm water.

After swimming round for a bit, we decided that since there was no one in sight, this was an excellent opportunity to swim au naturale.  We slipped out of our suits and dropped them on the lagoon floor. I took a careful sighting on the suits’ location using two distant palm trees to the right and left as points of reference.

That done; we swam a bit more, but then I began to notice that the sun was beating down mercilessly on our totally unprotected skin. I thought, sunburn is just minutes away, and headed back to the drop zone to pick up our suits and get into some shade.

When I reached the spot where I had carefully placed the suits, I made an unpleasant discovery. There were no suits to be had. We searched the area carefully, but with no results. The suits had vanished as quickly as our rapidly reddening skin was warming up.

What to do? Frankly, I panicked, told my friend to stay just where she was, and made my way to shore as quickly as I could. I now complicated our situation even further by making a bad decision. Instead of getting in the outrigger and paddling back around the pier to our hut, I decided to run back to it via the beach.

Now, it is common knowledge that the only people who run in Polynesia are those who are in serious training for an Iron Man competition or are really nutty North Americans.

Picture the scene: I’m stark naked and running along the beach back to the resort. The sun is beating down and my passage is being observed by several incredibly tanned women who are lounging in deck chairs at the water’s edge.

Since the women are French and apparently cosmopolitan, my passage elicits virtually no response from them – barely a raised eyebrow acknowledges my presence, but I do detect some wonderment about all this activity in the blazing heat.

Nothing deterred, I race past them to our hut, where I discover another piece of bad news. Since I’m coming from New England, I’ve done what every resident of that august area does when leaving home – I’ve locked the door and the key is somewhere at the bottom of the lagoon.

Now what? Do I venture out in my birthday suit to the front office on the rickety pier? Could be problematic! But, by luck, I discover that one of the windows (there is no glass, just a thatched trap door covering the opening) is ajar.

Aha! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I run up on the front porch, lift the flap, clamber inside and retrieve our spare swimsuits. As I’m in the middle of crawling through the opening, I realize I must present quite a sight for those on the beach!

Once inside, I pull my suit on, unlock the door and race back to the outrigger. This time, my passage is duly noted by the lounging women whose heads turn in wave-like motion as I pass. My actions so far may be somewhat difficult to explain to management since the women have observed me naked as a jaybird breaking into one of the huts and emerging in a swimsuit.

After what seems like ages, I reach the outrigger pulled up on the beach and look out to sea. Scanning the lagoon, I see a surprising sight; my companion has her original suit on and is holding mine up in the air – clearly a flag to foolishness.  But, how can that be?

It turns out that our suits were precisely where I had left them; I had just looked in the wrong spot. So much for my careful triangular positioning!

The resort management viewed us with some suspicion when we arrived later that day for lunch. Clearly, the ladies on the beach had expressed some concern. But no questions were asked and they did return our passports when we left a few days later. To this day, I continue to wonder what they must have made of all of this.  I have to wonder myself.

(Swimsuit photo courtesy of Suat Eman/Freedigitalphotos.net, beach photo courtesy of Rqs/Dreamstime.com)