The Cook Islands

French Polynesia and the Cook Islands are really far from everything, even eachother, but they’re the closest neighbours. Still, there’s only one (expensive) flight between them per week (Thursdays with Air Tahiti). I landed on the island of Rarotonga, a place I’d never heard of til now, and just started walking from the airport towards the bunches of hotels and hostels and resorts on the west coast. Its only 32km around, so you could almost walk around the whole thing in a day, but I was lucky enough to be picked up by a big Polynesian woman on her scooter, and we squished me and my backpack on behind her just in time for it to start POURING rain.

my only dry, visible sunset from Rarotonga backpackers' beach

my only dry, visible sunset from Rarotonga backpackers’ beach

She dropped me off at Rarotonga backpackers, one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed at. It had a pool, bungalows on the beach, and sea-view apartments where some crazy partying Kiwi birds (a.k.a. women form New Zealand) stayed. In my hostel was a mix of Americans, Kiwis, Brits, Canadians and Japanese, and we all became family after a few days, cooking dinner together, pairing up on our rental scooters and exploring the island and its nightlife together.

One night we creepily (and soberly) followed the Rarotonga party bus to 5 or 6 different night clubs, and I danced my hiny off with this British-Kiwi guy who you woulda thought was way to mature and serious to break out his moves like Jagger. He showed me up (and everyone else on the dance floor), and he instantly became my favourite person on the island.

The next day was pouring, thundering rain, all day long, and we ran around on the beach like crazies, wondering if the lightning could really electrocute us in the sea. We played games and cartwheeled around like noone was watching (noone was watching – the beach was empty for miles) and stayed soaked to the bone until finally the clouds broke and we could scooter down to a waterfall I wanted to see.

Muri beach

Muri beach

Polynesian dancers

Polynesian dancers

Wigmore’s waterfall is uusally a trickling stream with a wading pool below it, but now it was an angry, brown, rushing flood screaming its way down the hillside. Other highlights were watching little Polynesian girls dance in their grass skirts at the market, getting lost and then finding the start of the hiking trail through the middle of the island, and wading in waist deep water to islands off Muri beach while avoiding stepping on one of the gazillion sea cucumbers on the way. The local people eat their guts, which apparently grow back, so I guess if I did accidentally step on one, it would just gush out all its guts and then grow it all back.

We barely saw the sun in the few days I was there, but when it did come out, it was hot hot hot, so I didnt mind the shade and rain. On my last night there, the clouds finally parted a bit and I finally saw the sunset, but that just made it harder to pack my bags and leave for windy, rainy, 15 degree Auckland.

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