We have had some glorious sun, but now the forecast is for a week of rain. That makes for dull photos, but it's still a warm 26C on this jungle island, so we will make the best of it. We'd be wet snorkeling anyway!
It looked like we had a chance for Gina to work on her scuba license this week, but timing is off with all the public holidays here. She can't dive to get certified within 24 hours of flying, so our trip to Aitutaki cuts short the week as well. She will have plenty of time near the ocean this year and so far, the snorkeling is keeping us all enthralled. D'arcy has taught us how to feed the reef fish frozen peas, which brings schools of colorful fish all around. Fun! Gina found it much better to snorkel than walk at Muri Beach two days ago. As she waded through a shallow channel, something bit her three times! She said it felt like mosquito bites underwater. Tiny bite marks were bleeding once she hopped out and vowed never to enter again! We asked at a nearby dive shop and they said it was the Picasso trigger fish, protecting the holes where they had laid eggs. Now she's no longer afraid. We snorkeled at our own beach yesterday and have now seen how the trigger fish come out of holes and scoot back in when we swim by. Who knew we were so threatening?
Market day was Saturday, when all the locals are out at stalls in Avarua, selling all kinds of delicious cooked foods, fruit smoothies, fresh produce and a multitude of island crafts. We enjoyed it a lot, but found it extremely hot. Taking the bus there was easy, but just not as much fun as scooter rentals, so D'arcy and Kees took their test for Cook Island driver's licenses and have been keen chauffeurs ever since! I had really hoped for a ride to the fireworks on New Year's Eve, but the guys started celebrating in mid afternoon, when the villa owners came by with champagne to toast our anniversary! That was very thoughtful! We enjoyed visiting with them for a couple of hours, then had a delicious fresh fish dinner here on our gorgeous deck, overlooking the beach. After that, there was no hope of anyone driving scooters anywhere! It was a lovely time just walking the beach in moonlight, anyway.
So much has happened since then, but our routines have become simple. We enjoy fresh coffee and fruit outside, then read or go beach combing, shop a bit, then maybe get out to see sights by scooter. We love to get back here to the villa and go for a swim, snorkel or kayak, then wash off the salt in the outdoor shower and sit under the shady palms to dry off. One never really dries off, with such high humidity. Love it!
I tried a Zumba class on Tuesday night and loved it! Although the humidity made me soaked by the second song, I somehow managed to complete the hour of exercise, which had many elements of Polynesian dance to it, much to my delight! I may try it again tonight, since it's full of amused locals and not tourists. The women are all shapes, sizes and ages, but have amazing gracefulness, strength and stamina. Nobody there will ever see me again, and so far, there have been no bad reviews of my less than graceful dance efforts reported in the local papers!
I must report on how friendly and kind all the neighbors around here are to us. Walking down the road one day, I was amazed to find a tree growing star fruit! The owner was very friendly and implored me to take a handful home. I returned with a small box of chocolates for her and we had a grand chat. Mary has recently retired after 40 years of teaching on this island! I plan to return for another visit today and see what general news she has for me.
Another neighbor we met while beach combing. She invited us to see her collection, then insisted on giving us about a dozen fine shells! It would have been rude not to accept, although we only wished to admire, not own. Such is the local tradition here, so one must not admire too enthusiastically, which is a skill I must learn!
We visited with a third neighbor for a lovely long chat yesterday, about her family and life on the islands. She lives a short walk down the beach and was enjoying the view from a lovely hammock, which I admired. She made sure we knew that we were very welcome to use it any time! (when will I ever learn!)