Our tropical getaway feels like so long ago. Lucky then, that I’ve only just got around to going through our holiday photos! I took a lot less than I anticipated. Firstly, I didn’t bring my SLR (too bulky, though the images would have been amazing; also, I bought it secondhand, so if anything went wrong insurance would probably be a real hassle to deal with). And neither my iPhone nor point-and-shoot could quite measure up. Secondly, I wanted to really enjoy being in the moment. Something that’s easier said than done for me.
I still can’t quite believe we left the country and made it back without any major hassles. I mean, the landing at Rarotonga was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced; my head felt like it was in a vice of pins and needles and about to explode for about 15 minutes straight. I was literally frozen in place, tears running down my face, praying for it to stop. And the time difference had me a bit bamboozled – we could well have missed our return flight, were it not for T. But all in all, there were no major hiccups.
Stepping off the plane in Rarotonga, we were given bottled water and an ei (lei) of fresh flowers, before hopping onto the bus. My first thought was that surprisingly, the heat was comfortable – not oppressive! And that’s how it stayed for our entire trip. (Bear in mind I was born in the tropics, but I could never again live in 30-degree temperatures). It was bliss. I hate extreme weather, and I would really like to retire somewhere warm and mild; somewhere like Rarotonga, or at least Rarotonga in July. Actually, T and I talked a fair bit about that, but I think the plumbing and healthcare would be a bit of a concern.
Unbelievably, I was sitting on the beach with a cocktail on my birthday, followed by a languid swim. I could get used to summer born days. And a couple of days later, we were snorkelling in the bluest waters I’ve ever seen in my life. (Note to self: follow T in the future, because he always finds cool things that I don’t. Like blue starfish, and poo-ing sea cucumbers). Also, did you know squid ink looks like blood?
The Captain Tama’s crew also double as the local entertainment; we first saw the band at the Whatever bar, and they serenaded us again before we set out to the marine reserve…
THEN they whipped up the most delicious BBQ lunch of fish, fried bananas, fresh fruit and coconut, plus some potato salad, before demonstrating how to scale a coconut tree (upside down, no less).
Oh, the food! So fresh, so light. I had a tiny appetite while over there; I think letting go and not having my brain on full tilt for 8-10 hours a day was responsible for that. Instead, I did a pretty good job of embracing island time. Like everyone else, we hooned around on scooters, taking in the sights. We bought a beautiful ukulele from the prison craft shop (the place to go for ukes, we’re told) and saw countless amazing gravestones (it seems family members tend to be placed to rest out in the yard rather than a cemetery as we know it).
Leaving was definitely bittersweet, and it’s lucky we got out on time. People, check your dates and times carefully! I was so paranoid about making our flight out I didn’t think much about our return flight; luckily T got antsy about the time difference and upon digging out out itinerary I realised we had a full day less than I thought.
I prefer not to think too much about how boring waiting in airports is (travelling consultants, how do you do it?) or the surprisingly high departure tax (again, complacent about the NZ end, I didn’t think about leaving Raro) or how many forms there are to fill out (note to self, bring many pens when flying in future).
Instead, I’ll recall sitting in the outdoors restaurant watching the sun set, sipping on mocktails – we cut a bit loose that evening – and slowly savouring our last island dinner.