The day dawned breezy and warm, with plenty of sun promised. We were certainly not hungry after the island feast of delicious traditional foods last night at Highland Paradise. I'll post the movie some day, highlighting the Polynesian history of Rarotonga, from the tribal days of human sacrifice and cannibalism, to the introduction of Christianity in 1840. We were all suitably impressed with the whole evening, from the shuttle service at 5 pm to the informative tours of the original ancient maraes, introduction to native herbal uses and traditional ceremonial offerings. They use fruit now, not maidens! The guides, master of ceremonies and serving staff were all humorous and happy, genuinely proud of their heritage. Fabulous drummers, talented singers and beautiful dancers kept us entertained until we were dropped at our doorstep at 10 pm.
This morning we packed up and cleared out of the Absolute Beachfront Villa, leaving D'arcy to move into the "shack" for a week while we investigate Aitutaki. He'll manage fine, with an ample beer supply and many variations of BBQed meat on a stick to keep him happy, plus gorgeous sunshine on a tropical island!
He was kind to help us move bags to the airport, where we checked them in early and then took the bus into town.
Saturday market is not to be missed! We picked up green leafy veggies to
take out to Aitutaki and enjoyed fresh young coconuts for a cool drink. Cafe Salsa, with the only free wifi on the island, was a cool spot to spend an hour at before we boarded Air Raro to my dream island.
Ocean of periwinkle and lagoons of turquoise are even more enchanting than all the pictures promise. Miles of coral strewn beaches, bleached a blinding white in the sun, contrast with the warm tropical waters and lush emerald greens of mangrove, palms and jungle. If this sounds like a travel brochure that is hard to believe, in truth, it's more gorgeous!
David and Tutapu meet us at the airport with Cook Island hugs, kisses on one cheek and sumptuous garlands of gardenia, frangipani and blossoming island basil. My delight is hard to contain!
Our rental house is spartan and functional, but very clean. We all wish it had the spectacular oceanfront views of our villa in Rarotonga that we've been so spoiled by. Now it's time to appreciate the basics of island life: learn how to ride a scooter and explore this island!
First stop is the beach, a short walk across the road and down a sandy lane. Blistering midday sun scorches our skin and only allows for a short look at the ocean before we return home for a drink, sunscreen, t-shirts and bathing suits. After a short but glorious dip to cool off, we headed home to avoid the intense sunshine and rest up before dinner.
Sunset views on the beach in front of Puffy's Cafe is beautiful, with a full
moon rising behind us. Priceless.