After three hours in the heavy Polynesian sun I knew it was time to start heading home. I was on an outer reef named Motu Piti Aau two miles east of Bora Bora. I had walked several miles down the beach exploring the coast, and now with water running low and the sun extracting my perspiration at a high rate, I wanted to get back. Quickly.
I was told when I started I could take an alternate route that would cut my return in half but was warned to be careful of dogs. Supposedly there were many on the trail and some had the reputation for liking the taste of humans. But I needed to get out of the sun and it seemed worth the risk. With a stick in hand for protection, I made my way down the palm tree shoreline.
A mile into my return I encountered five pit bulls tied to trees and beams supporting a small beach home. With every ounce of energy they tried to break free. I had never seen a group of more muscular and determined animals, and I thanked God for the ropes that kept the dogs from dining on me. As I moved down the trail the barks of the pit bulls died down behind me. A few minutes later I saw another pack of dogs down the beach and they were beginning to move towards me. These dogs were not restrained. I froze in my tracks.
At that moment I noticed that a small, sleek motorboat had come near the shore. Aboard were a tourist couple basking in the beauty of Bora Bora. They drank beers and laughed while they anchored near the shore and took pictures of one another wading in the fabulous turquoise waters. They were in paradise. I had to laugh. From just a stone's throw away I tried to determine which pack of dogs I dared cross.
I regained my focus and decided that the strength of the ropes holding the pit bulls was not to be tested again. I walked toward the pack of dogs ahead. To my relief I realized they were docile companions of a nice Tahitian couple who smiled at me and called for their dogs to settle down. I waved, said "bon jour" and continued on towards home.
As I walked I thought about the couple on the motorboat, and how the same moment could be so different for people within 100 meters of each other and realized again that paradise is a relative term.
– Ari Lurie
If you liked this story, check out Ari's previous post "Sitting on the Shoulder."