Day 287, Year 1: The Road Less Traveled
Date: Monday, July 31, 2006
Weather: Beautiful Blue Skies with Rain Showers Here and There
Location: Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The weather has definitely improved, but those north winds are still blowing into the anchorage and making it very lumpy in here. Getting on and off the dinghy is a challenge for those with two legs, so I am just barely hanging in there. But I am hanging in there. New boats have come in, so the tiny harbor is full. Early tomorrow morning the big square rigger, the Soren Larson from New Zealand will be leaving and that means that about five of us have to pull up anchor to let the boat out. It is currently tied to the concrete quay behind us, so the boats on either side of us and the two boats in front of us will move temporarily to let them out. If the harbor is still bouncy, that should be fun!

Early this morning Mark and Mike went into town to buy tickets for the dance competition and they rented the only car available.. It is a turquoise blue Cabriolet convertible. The five of us barely fit, but riding around the island with bright blue sunny skies after days of rain was just wonderful. Linda actually sat on the top of the back seat most of the day to make more room for Garrett and me and we teased her about looking like a beauty queen waving to all of her subjects. This island has a road that goes all the way around hugging the shore and then it has an inner road that weaves through the countryside. We decided to take the inner road which is less traveled. We barely got out of town when we took a little detour to check out what looked like an incredible tree. It turned out to be many trees with a vine draping over and around. When we started back down the road, we had a breathtaking view of the ocean. Then we looked to our right and saw a little house with an incredible flower and fruit garden. While we were admiring the garden, a man who was on his deck overlooking the garden called to us and invited us to come visit. His name was Harold, and he and his wife Joyce (originally from Rarotonga) moved here from New Zealand four years ago. They keep their year and a half old grandson, Alexius, during the day, so we visited with the three of them and ate the fantastic passion fruit and banana that Joyce served us. Harold is very proud of his garden and took everyone for a guided tour. It was a wonderful visit and we even learned about the Mile-a-Minute Vine that covers the trees and drapes gracefully to the ground.

We then continued on the inner road around the island. This road was built a thousand years ago with oyster shells and has the distinction of being the oldest road in Polynesia. It was paved during World War II and has remained that way since. It is a charming country road with incredible scenery. We exited the road at the southeastern end of the island and slowly made our way to our favorite snorkeling spot. We stopped at local art galleries and took side roads to look for great viewpoints. At one stop we met Piri. We have read signs about his afternoon shows since we arrived here. He climbs straight up coconut trees and does a demonstration of how his ancestors made fire from the coconut. I thought he would be a young man, but he is actually about our age. Once again, he reinforced the impression of the friendliness of people here. It is truly heartwarming.

The day was moving right along, so we finally headed straight to the snorkeling spot. All of the wind and heavy seas have caused the visibility in the lagoon to be less than stellar, so I decided not to try my first snorkeling event after breaking my leg. I sat on the beach in the sun and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Mark gave up sooner than usual and joined me. Mike, Linda, and Garrett stayed out but they didn’t see much today and they had to fight a wicked current on the way back to the beach. As we walked back to the car, we spotted a heron sitting on a rock overlooking the lagoon. It was a Kodak moment, but no one had a camera. By the time the cameras were located, the heron flew away, but we have beautiful memories of the moment, with or without the perfect photograph.

We ended the day by attending the first night of Te Maeva Nui dance competition. We so enjoyed the dancing in Bora Bora, but I think the Cook Islanders live up to their reputation as the best dancers in the South Pacific. We might not attend tomorrow night as Rick, Robin, and John on Endangered Species have invited everyone in the anchorage over for an early evening get-together, but we will definitely go back on Wednesday evening. The singing, drumming, and dancing was spectacular and we still just don’t understand how people can move the way they do. The female dancers here very good, but I must say that I have been most impressed with the enthusiastic knee-slapping male dancing. It is incredible!

060731 Day 287 Cook Islands, Rarotonga–Island Explorations