Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our yellow Bubble car

While is Rarotonga we hired a small yellow bubble car a Toyota IQ.

 Just a wee 2 door car that got us around the island just fine. But bellied on many rough spots and almost vanished into major pot holes on some small roads, specially when we drove up to Wigmores Waterfall. Last time we were in Raro we came up here to enjov the cool on hot days, but now the road has deteriorated greatly and it was not easy to drive without going into the pot holes.
 There were quite a few others up here and one of them took our photo.
We stopped off at the old Sheraton buildings and were able to wander around and even go inside the old half finished buildings. I was impressed by the fact that most had an in-ground built in spa pool.  Also by how very extensive the building are. Apparently someone went bankrupt and the building had to be stopped, never to be re-continued. Now goats wander at will around the place to keep the grass down, and it seems that go-carts have a track around the grounds.

Maybe someone will restore the place sometime. Looks better than it is.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A small tsunami.

We slept in a while, after all we were on holiday,  We awoke to the loud roaring of a heavy sea running and smashing into the outer reef. When we went down to the beach to check out the noisy ocean, we were told oh you have missed all the excitement!
Apparently 8 people took out the big white out-rigger canoe, right out to the outer reef when the surf was pounding loudly. They got too close and the big waves turned them over and threw them all out into the sea. They all rushed to grab the out-rigger and clung to it. But the out-rigger was not meant to be clung to but 8 people and immediately snapped off. So the men of the resort all grabbed kayaks and paddled furiously  out and  rescued  them all and towed the pieces of the big out-rigger back into to the beach. Just as well we were not there as I have lifesaving medals and may well have considered going out rescuing too.
We were told there had been an earthquake near Tonga, not to far away from Rarotonga, and it had stirred up the ocean and the tides were likely to be much higher than usual with a possible small tsunami. It was true the tide was much higher than usual but not dangerous.
We spent the day reading our books and lounging around relaxing.  The sea remained very high, like high tide all day long crashing and banging and pounding onto the reef and the beach, no swimming for anyone today, far too dangerous.
We went out to dinner at the Muri Beach Market enjoyed another lovely meal and returned to the resort and so to bed without giving the high seas another thought, never thinking about the next high tide during the night.
We found out in the morning that the tide had risen much higher and in fact had rushed into and through all the beach front units to a height of 3 feet soaking all the guests luggage and gear. Staff had to evacuate everyone in middle of the night.
When we got up we found a large pond filling all the  garden area in found of our unit. We were three rows from the sea front, the sea had raced up the pathways between the blocks of units and come to a halt right outside our door. The Sea came to us, so we also had a sea frontage. lol.
The salt water soon soaked into the ground leaving behind masses of seaweed and small pieces of coral and rubbish. killing all the grass and some of the plants, but not the banana palms we had been enjoying.
The groundsmen worked hard sweeping up all the sand, coral and seaweed very quickly, and digging out the flooded units.
I did not take a photo, as I have this thing about not photographing other peoples misery if possible
All the people who had paid for the expensive waterfront units had to be resettled into the upstairs units in our block, the real cheap seats!  I felt sorry for them.and they did not get to go back to the unit they paid for because they were full of sand and soaking wet.
The big wave not only caused damage at our resort it also went right up and over the ring road round the Island in many places and probably went through plenty of houses.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Big Market day Raro

The big Market day with all the people from the outer Islands selling their wares as well as all the normal stalls with lots of interesting bargains for those that want them. With all the travel we do buying knick knacks  and curios to take home just doesn't happen much now days. But I did decide to buy a black pearl necklace for myself, not I might add an expensive one, not his was just small pearls with mixed colours which turned out to be river black pearls not sea ones. But its ok as far as I am concerned if I like it and want it doesn't matter what it costs; but I prefer a bargain. This bargain cost only $10.  I wore it all the rest of the holiday. This stall with all its interesting sea shell tempted me, it was the one i bought the necklace from. I also bought a nice bright sarong as we always do, not to wear but to take home for a tablecloth. We find the bright cheerful colours remind us of the  great times we enjoy while overseas. And they as so cheap we can get a nice new one every year.

Because it was a special market day there was a band entertaining everyone, not to my taste but I seemed to be in the minority so I imagine they were quire good.

We wandered around for ages buying up things like kebabs, churros and  choc cake to nibble as we went, before settling down to  tasty lunch eaten outdoors at the picnic tables we shared with several others, all washed down with a special island fruit smoothie which was delicious.

There was a big yacht moored just outside the reef one of those millionaires floating palaces, with small boats coming and going from it I guess they were also enjoying the market day. 
Later we visited the Deep Sea Fishing Club for a glass of wine as we wended our way home around the 'other' side of the island
this is the fish cooking caravan outside the Fishing Club building, its nice sitting out there watching the sunsetting. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Independence for Cook Islands.

The days celebrations with all 57 floats was so good we really wanted to join all the happy Islanders for the evening fun. We decided to start by going to the Islander Hotel to the outdoor Hula Bar right on the waters edge where the drinks, all of them are only $3.50 a glass, amazing bargain prices has loads of people turning up.
 Erle went to buy the drinks and I looked about for a table we could sit at. All of them were nearly full, but I found one with just 4 young Islander girls at,  all about  20 - 25 year olds,   and asked if they would mind us sharing the end of their table and I said we wouldn't bother them. They were all for us joining them and after just a few moments we were all like old friends laughing and chatting and having a good time.
After a while another lovely young lady joined the group wearing a most beautiful Ei ( head dress like a crown made of flowers and leaves, and long leafy scarf that we have seen a few Islanders wear.  After she had been introduced to us oldies she immediately took off her Ei and placed on Erle's head and said welcome to Rarotonga. He wasn't too sure about this and I took his photo.

Then she took off her long leafy scarf, there is a fancey name for this but I couldn't catch it they spoke it too quickly. She placed around my neck and said welcome to Rarotonga to me and gave me a kiss. Erle took off his Ei and placed it on my head said it was better suited there and took my photo all decked out beside a couple of the girls.I felt really honoured and admired it all greatly before returning the Ei which was very special all made of Gardenias that smelled deliciously. But I decided to keep the leafy scarf which I sort of assumed to be made from a vine of some sort.
 I was wrong!

After another drink together we said goodbye to the girls and headed off to Trader Jacks an iconic local restaurant and bar. As we walked eeryone was so nice to me smiling and saying Kia Orana the local greeting  which I said back to them hsppily. When we got to Trader Jacks everyone seemed to be looking at me and I was made very welcome and showed to one of the best waterfront tables by a, nice waitress. 
While we drank our glass of wine every waitress in the place came to our table asking where I had got the leafy scarf from as it was so unusual for white tourist lady to be wearing one, they said it was very rare and how lucky I was. Then one of them told me it was made from many little fine branches of a special tree all woven together and what an especially nice leafy one this was.
 Apparently the tree does not even grow on this Island it must of been brought in from one of the outer Islands, probably by the young lady who gave it to me.  Very special. The leaves all smelled beautifully of a sweet coconuty aroma, I liked the perfume.
Later we enjoyed our lovely gourmet Pizza with great big prawns all around it, then headed home taking the leafy scarf with me. When back to the resort I hung it up on a hook beside the bed and admired it some more, wishing I could of showed it off more.
The housemaids arrived to do our room next day and nearly fell over at the sight of it and wanted to know the story again. One of them told me she had been given one at a wedding, they had been ordered and brought in from the only island they grow on to give to the honoured guests.  I really felt bad about taking it home with me so casually, but she did seem to want me to have it and I did love it.
 God Bless her. 
I kept it hanging in our room the rest of our stay and it acted like a room refresher making it smell all lovely and coconuty.

Friday, August 07, 2015

50th Anniversary of Independence from New Zealand.

One of the main reasons to be visiting Rarotonga this year is because it is the 50th Anniversary of the Cook Islands gaining their Independence from New Zealand. They still use the NZ Dollar as their currency and New Zealand still maintain strong ties with the country, so much so that our Prime Minister John Key  will be attending some of the celebrations.
The Government chartered some ships to bring people in from all the outer Islands so they could attend and put floats in the parade.
We were here for the previous celebrations about 5 years ago and there was a great parade of Floats down the main St plus lots of small stalls selling yummy island food and dancing displays..
The celebrations for the 50th commemoration is going to be even bigger with more than 50 floats and the stalls but many other activities as well, many are formal but the dancing and drumming will be for all to enjoy, the locals are all being granted a public holiday to enjoy the day.
Led by the Brass Band we stood and watched 57 floats go past us.

 So much work had gone into making the floats interesting and entertaining, many had a theme of cannibals with tourists in cooking pots, which made us all laugh.

Very old costumes made of bark were brought out and other native costumes were on show too.
This one was made like a canoe and the men paddled it all the way along the street.

Best of all were the dancers from one of the outer Islands who joyfully  danced and sang while walking all the way down the street and all the way back , enjoying every moment of it, and it would have taken 2 and half hours at least.

Was a great parade of floats so many of them.The people waved their little Island flags and you can bet that we did too. I even brought home my little flag.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Rarotongan Umu Dinner 4th installment

The only meal we had in the Resort we were staying in was a special Native Umu Dinner which is cooked in the ground rather like the Maori Hangi is but slightly different.
As well as the Umu dinner there was a show of dancing girls and drumming by the men, not a cheap evening by any means at $55 per person, but as we had never tried this kind on meal it was worth it to us.
When all the guests had arrived we were asked to get up and go for a short walk to the site where the umu had been put down in the ground. The pit is apparently one that is used every week and had a roof build over it even and small shed fulled with dried coconut shells and palm fronds.

Two men came and dragged off the tarpolin covers from a mound then lifted off some banana leaves and some palm fronds, by now we were down to the embers and burnt coconut shells.

 These  were scrapped off the container that held the meats all wrapped up tightly in tin foil, not very authentic! but keeps the meat clean and nice.

We then all trooped back inside and waited while the chef prepared the food for us. There was Pork , Beef and Lamb cooked in the umu and lots of salads of the Island prepared indoors; special Potato and Egg salad and cooked Taro leaves and and   raw fish, plus chunks of Taro and sweet potatoes, This was my plate full, more than  I needed! The Island people eat large portions, very large and so they are quite chubby.
After a time the Island show started with a loud burst of drumming and dancing girls on the stage in front of us. It was far too loud for Erle, he leapt from his seat and left with his hands over his ears. I stayed and quite enjoyed seeing all the young people dancing and wiggling their hips, I find the sound of the drumming exhilerating and uplifting but it just hurts Erle's ears.
That was our big night out in Rarotonga, We went out to dinner every night but to much smaller cheaper places all around the Island, but mainly at the small markets held at Muri Beach or the big Market held once a week in the township.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

relaxing around the resort at Raro

We normally have quite adventurous holidays on the go racing around to see everything possible, but as we have been to Rarotonga twice before we decided to have a few days peaceful relaxation just lazing around the Resort. We have a lovely garden unit on ground floor with 2 sun loungers right outside the door; we made good use of them, lying in the sunshine reading our books, drinking coffee  and every now and again going for a nice walk along the sandy beach.

 We did plan to swim  frequently but the weather was not as warm as we expected so we only had a few swims. We also took the outrigger canoe out for a lovely paddle around the lagoon, slowly so we could watch the small fish playing around in the clear shallow water.

We lounged around the pool too, I did go in but the water was cooler than the ocean so mainly we swam there. I liked the beach cubanas nice to sit in a shady place when it got too hot on the beach under the Coconut palms.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Bananas at Rarotonga.

We love fresh fruit and eat heaps of it while we are in the tropics, so we were very pleased to discover the big Banana palm outside our apartment had 2 big bunches of ripe bananas on it and more coming along

. We were able to grab a quick snack every time we went out for a wander on the beach at Rarotonga.
The bunch on the right are the new flowers just setting out to be bananas. Apparently there are 19 varieties of banana, these ones were the small ladies Finger ones and they were really yummy.
There were plenty if other lots of banana growing around the resort so plenty for everyone to enjoy.
We were quite lucky cause the weather has been chilly for the tropics, ad fruit has not ripened as fast as usual, there were no papaya at all ripe, Star Fruit were available in small numbers too, even tomatoes were not ripening so were very expensive to buy.