A Travellerspoint blog

Cook Islands

Rarotonga

February 4 to 8

We had an easy flight to Rarotonga and a very expensive cab ride($80) to our accommodation, which is on the other side of the island from the airport. It was a rainy, drizzly day so we didn't do much. Went out for lunch and the guys went and rented a car. The next day it poured rain all day, very windy and amazing amounts of rain. We did a little exploring and shopping with the car. Even visited a local craft brewery to taste their wares. Finally on Wednesday, the sun came out and the guys went snorkeling. I walked a long way down the beach and back and then cooled off with a dip in the ocean. The old lady, Annie, who lives by us was in the water picking seaweed. I went over and was standing talking to her when an eel came straight at me. I yelped and jumped (I hadn’t seen any fish at all in this lagoon up to then). Annie asked what and I told her an eel, it started swimming toward her and she beat the top of the water with her hands to scare it off. That worked and it went back into the coral knob I guess it came out of. I must have been too close or something. So that got me out of the water pretty quick!! We went out for supper at a nice restaurant and had a lovely meal, but I can't believe the prices here. I guess I'm just a small town girl. Thursday was another good day with beach walking and snorkeling in the morning and then after lunch it was time to take the rental car back and go to the airport. We had a good flight to NZ and spent the night in an airport hotel. We are now at the Auckland airport awaiting our flight to Nelson.
Rarotongan dog fishing

Rarotongan dog fishing

Posted by katdill 13:52 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

Church and Eco-tour

Sunday, February 3

Today we went to church. The first Sunday of the month, everyone was dressed in white and they were having communion, which we didn’t stay for. The Cook Islands Church, where the service is mostly in Maori, has the most wonderful singing. They sing in Maori, acapella, with no direction. Apparently, different villages are responsible for different songs each week. So they know ahead of time, but I guess they all know them by heart, anyway. Just wonderful harmonies and great acoustics. It felt like the sound was all around and thru me. I think they are all such nice people because they sing like that every week!!
After we got back home, Don and Rob went down to the tumana, a kind of men's club in the bush, where they drink home brewed beer that hasn’t fermented long enough to be very powerful.
Rob with homemade beer

Rob with homemade beer


Then we got picked up by Birdman George and his assistant, Tony. We climbed in the back of his truck and away we went on an eco-tour. He showed us different birds and plants and told us the uses for them.
Weaving my own plate

Weaving my own plate


After several hours we went down to the beach and he fed us a picnic. We had woven palm leaf supports for our banana leaf plates. We had fresh coconut and passionfruit that they picked on the way. They also cut the palm and banana leaves and showed us how to weave them. Good food and a very interesting afternoon.
Don with his beach picnic

Don with his beach picnic

Posted by katdill 21:34 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

Coffee, Art and Caving

Saturday, February 2

We started the day, after a great breakfast, with Jurgen picking us up for a tour of his coffee plantation. This trip was in the back of his truck on wooden benches, hanging on for dear life as we bounced over the pot holes and ducked the hanging tree branches. We visited the coffee plants, and he showed us the building where the husking, drying, sorting, roasting, and bagging go on. It was very interesting, even to the non-coffee drinkers in the crowd. Then we went to the Atiu Fibre Arts Studio,www.cookislandsartlink.com/andreaeimke, which is run by Jurgen’s wife, Andrea, for a coffee tasting and a chance to view her artworks. Great coffee and wonderful fibre arts.
Andrea Eimke's art

Andrea Eimke's art


She makes her own tapa cloth, which is a lot of hard work, and then incorporates it into her artwork. She does appliqué, similar to Hawaiian quilting, but with no batting, just two layers of cloth. She also has some wonderful machine lace effects. We had a great visit, but I didn’t buy anything there. Mani bought 2 pareo (wraps) and a glasses case. After Jurgen dropped us off at home, we went back to the same spot for a repeat of yesterday’s lunch.
Marshall picked us up for a bird cave tour. We were joined on this tour by Dominique, the French Canadian man, and the Dutch couple. We hiked over the makatea, which is a fossilized coral area that has been pushed up out of the ocean by the movement of the tectonic plates. Extremely rough country, we used walking sticks and had to watch where we put our feet every step. We had frequent stops so Marshall could show us different plants or interesting items. When we reached the cave, he handed out headlights and we climbed down a ladder to reach the cave.
Caving

Caving


Then duck, watch your step, duck, etc. into the cave and found the Atiu Swiftlet, which Marshall says is misnamed, but a very interesting bird, which echo locates to find its nest in the pitch black of the cave. He then took us down to a little pool in the cave that we all had a swim in – very refreshing, but of course, we got all dirty and sweaty on the return trip as well. We came home and showered and went over to the Atiu Villas for supper. Another wonderful meal with bananas in brandy with ice cream for desert.

Posted by katdill 14:07 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

Travel to Atiu

Friday, February 1

Up early to get ready to leave. Mama drove us to the airport. They told us our flight left at 7:30, but really it didn’t go until after 8:00. I talked to a young French Canadian man at the airport because Teking had told me a single fellow was flying out with us. (Dominique was his name). There was also a young couple from Holland. Only 7 of us on the plane. It was about a 45 minute flight to Atiu. We were met by Marshall at the airport with eis, the Cook Island version of leis. We arrived at his place and got settled in. At lunchtime, we borrowed one of his trucks and drove into the village to have burgers at the food/convenience store. Don and I had egg burger without the meat patty (or mince, as they say down here) with lettuce, onion, and beetroot. Yum! We ate on a covered deck overlooking the sports field. I always forget how delicious canned (not pickled) beets are in a sandwich until I come back down under. After lunch, Marshall took us on a tour of the island and gave us a history, sociology, and nature lesson at the same time. We had new coconuts with a straw to suck the milk out, while walking on a beach to see where the turtle nest is – all you see is the flipper markings on the sand, showing the path of the turtle and where it stopped – interesting because apparently turtles haven’t used this beach previously.
Don with fresh coconut drink

Don with fresh coconut drink


Then Marshall showed us how to crack open the nut and get the fresh coconut meat out. I even managed to do it myself. There aren’t many beaches here, it’s a volcanic island on a coral shelf that is being pushed up out of the ocean at the rate of a centimeter a year. So the coral reef is rising as well. The beach is lovely and you can swim out a little way before reaching the edge of the reef and then the drop is immense! No swimming for us, the ocean is wild after the storms and wind that has been happening. We had a picnic on another beach – fruit salad, fresh shredded coconut, and banana muffins. Yum! After we returned to his house, we had a bit of a rest while Marshall made us a delicious supper. He’s a really good cook, only he gave Mani and I such large amounts we couldn’t finish it. He had also made mango ice cream custard for desert and I managed to eat all of it!!!

Posted by katdill 14:04 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

A Lagoon Cruise and Island Night

Thursday, January 31

Woke up to sunshine and a clear sky. And now the wind is down, the mosquitoes can come out to play! Don, Rob and Mani went to take the scooters back and get their Cook Islands drivers license. Then we were picked up and taken to the dock to join the cruise. We went in a little boat, luckily with a shade canopy, and an entertaining captain, Teking. It is his cruise business and he takes it seriously, but provides lots of humour throughout the day. There were two snorkeling stops before lunch and then a wonderful yellowfin tuna Bar-be-que with many different veggies and salads and fruits to eat.
Wonderful lunch

Wonderful lunch


Then a longer snorkeling opportunity and a visit to another island to walk about and swim if you wanted to. All in all, a great day on the water(except for the sunburn I got even tho I had 60SPF on!). Just a few little rain showers that hardly had any impact at all. Then home to clean up, pack up to leave tomorrow, and get ready for the “island night” we have booked just down the beach. We walked down to the Tamanu Resort for the buffet supper and dance show. It is a pretty classy place, a wonderful buffet with so many choices. They were going to have the dance outside, but it started to rain so they moved inside, which made it a little more cramped but still amazing. Very athletic with wonderful muscle control! Then we all moved outside for the fire dance (the rain had stopped for awhile).
Fire Dance

Fire Dance


That was also spectacular although not very different from what we had seen previously. We waited for a break in the rain and we walked home along the beach. Of course, it started raining while we were walking, my headlight didn’t seem very bright, and Don and I were in the lead and walked right past our place because it was so dark we couldn’t tell when we had made it! However, we didn’t go to far before Don realized we had to turn around and go back. By then, Rob and Mani had made it inside and turned the lights on so it was easier for us. A very full day!

Posted by katdill 14:00 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

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