Published: October 2nd 2010October 1st 2010
Table for Two at Vaima
During the following two weeks the weather on Rarotonga seemed to get better and better, so as you can imagine my tan was getting better and better whilst Cerri was getting redder and redder!
As the sun had its hat on, in true old fashioned British style we decided to tackle some gardening around the EHF clinic over the next couple of days. Turning into Alan Titchmarsh enthusiasts, weeding was first on the agenda followed by digging out a vegetable patch and planting an avocado tree. During one of the morning feeds Cerri’s butter fingers nearly lost a kitten which she spent the next hour or so searching in the nearby bushes for! Our days were taken up by teaching some of our fellow volunteers how to dehusk coconuts, sadly the bunch of coconuts I had chosen had gone off a bit and tasted nasty! We watched a cat have some teeth removed which was interesting. In the course of one of the afternoon feeds, Orlando (one of the house cats) was accidentally given another cat’s tablet, which needless to say made him high as a kite and a very paranoid cat! We also learnt how to tattoo a dog’s
Needle Couple Combo
ear, so that if EHF takes in any strays and we see a tattoo we know that they have already been desexed. A cat called Jasper was brought in with fish poisoning, so we are constantly having to syringe feed him, which is on the whole a very messy job and the food predominantly goes over either me or Cerri and not in Jasper’s mouth! In the evenings we formed two clubs, the first being dessert club, where we all headed down to the nearby Kikau Hut for something a bit sweet and the second being Disney club, as we watched the classic film “The Aristocats” since it was very fitting.
Feeling energetic on our day off (Cerri more so than myself as I was still aching from the “K9 9K” the previous week!), we came to the decision that we would attempt the Cross Island Trek. We packed our bags with plenty of water and provisions for the day and set about trying to hitch a ride into town. Walking along the roadside with our thumbs raised in true hitch hikers’ style, we managed to acquire a lift in the back of a police van! The friendly police
Its a Canvas!
were obviously having a quiet day and took us all the way to the start of the trail. Unfortunately for them it had rained quite hard during the previous evening, so the muddy road was proving difficult for the police van to make its way up and at one point it actually got stuck! After saying goodbye to the cops . . . and leaving them to push the van out of the mud we started on the upward trek towards the mountain called “The Needle”. As we mentioned earlier the track was muddy from the down pour the night before, so we had to take off the flip flops and put on some trainers for better grip. The track took us deep into the jungle; using the twisted and misshapen tree roots as steps to assist us in our ascent up to the Needle, which was the halfway point of the trek. After about 45 minutes we’d arrived, dripping in sweat and in need of a rest! The Needle itself rises 413 metres above sea level and offered spectacular views around the island. For braver people than ourselves you can climb further up the Needle and around the rock
Mama on the Beach
face but the “danger at your own risk” sign, a rusty chain to cling onto and the 400 metre sheer drop were enough to put us off! After a few pictures and a spot of lunch we followed the slippery track back down the other side of the island. This downwards trail saw us using ropes to aid us in our descent and plenty of grasping onto trees for balance, we meandered back and forth across the Papua stream before emerging into Fernland. The trail ended on the far side of the island with the pathway ending at Wigmores Waterfall. We dipped our aching feet in the cool fresh water pool collecting at the bottom of the waterfall before being attacked by the army of mosquito’s that called it their home. Tired we opted to cool down even more by taking a short stroll to the nearby supermarket which is renowned for its large ice cream portions; a double scoop was literally the same size as Cerri’s head! After an ice cream overload, a relaxing sunbathe on the nearby beach and a quick cool off dip in the sea we thought whilst we were on the other side of the
island we might as well stay for some dinner and treat ourselves after the solid 3 to 4 hour trek. We opted for the Vaimu restaurant which the Lonely Planet raved about. It wasn’t wrong as the food was just what the doctored ordered, some unusual Parrot Fish was on the menu so when in Rome as the say! And after mentioning that we were volunteering at EHF the owner brought us over some complimentary beers, the perfect way to end an exhausting day. With our bellies full we hitch hiked back to the clinic this time getting a lift with a crazy/lovely lady who proceeded to tell us the best places to drink every night of the week, we think she might have been an alcoholic!
While we were on our day off the pig farmer’s dog had given birth to six puppies, so that day Cerri became mum again to another batch of puppies and spent most the day looking after them and for the puppies was bath time as the poor pups we’re covered in fleas. Whilst Cerri was getting lathered up, Mama the house dog had eaten & rolled in something dead on the beach
so she literally stank and also needed a bath. It turned out that Mama is not a fan of water so we had to catch her first which we did by enticing her with dog biscuits (Mama loves her food!) then try and pour the water over her very carefully so she didn’t get too spooked, this resulted in me and Cerri mainly having the bath and Mama looking quite smug! After a long, wet day in the sun and the fact that it was American Kristin’s final day we were off out for a farewell dinner at Trader Jacks. We decided to hit the dance floor afterwards and go to “our new local” Hidies Bar, dancing with the locals “up by the speakers where it’s anything but too loud” and attracting attention from several rather drunk folk boogie time was over. We decided to head back to Trader Jacks for the live Band as we could hear them from the street and they were playing some absolute classics. Hour or so later we decided to hit the hay and head back home since there was a few of us we had to break up the group to try and
get a lift back home, me and Cerri waved off the girls as they jumped into the back of a car and then luckily we managed to hitch a lift as well; as me and Cerri got into the car we found ourselves squeezing in next to none other than two members from the band Alphabeat! . . . . . . . . Not really but they were the spitting image!
Another Saturday was upon us and back to the market we headed, obliviously after the usual weekend lie in! We are now becoming seasoned hitch hikers and managed to catch a lift in no time what so ever. We spent the morning wondering around the market with American Kristin (or Special K) as it was her final day in Rarotonga and she needed to get those last minute souvenirs. The last few times we had been to the market there was a guy playing the bongo’s and a lady playing a guitar whilst singing and every week I say “I’ll buy that CD next week”, the one week I bring some money to buy their CD and they’ve gone and left the island! After the market we
Hitching a Ride
left Kristin to pack her bags and popped to Cafe Salsa, which was recommended by Mims and Framey. With a light lunch in our stomachs we hitched a ride to Muri Lagoon, this time on the back of a truck with the wind in our hair and like German tourists laid down our towels in the best possible spot on the crisp white sand. Jordana Banana and Special K (sounds like a breakfast buffet!) joined us for the afternoon and we spent the rest of the day snorkelling and even managed to swim over to one of the islands in the lagoon where once again we saw numerous beautiful fish going about their day. Completely fried we caught a ride back to EHF Headquarters and made our way over to where German Kristin aka Frau Part - time has been staying for an evening around the pool and a nice BBQ whilst saying our farewells to Special K.
We worked the next couple of days, with nothing out of the unusual happening except Mims unfortunately forgetting about a puppy that had passed away four days previous and had been left in the x-ray room to decompose. This meant my
vegetable patch was now turned into a grave for the poor puppy; luckily we hadn’t planted any seeds yet! On a happier note, we did save a lizard that Orlando tried to catch and eat, although it’s now minus a tail! We spent afternoons taking some of the doggy patients for walks on the beach and enjoyed the beachside evening sunsets, it doesn’t matter how many you watch you’ll never get bored of them. Apart from a couple of RTA’s that’s “Road Traffic Accidents” for the non-vets among us it was a fairly quiet couple of days for us. Jordana Banana, Mims and Framey followed the example set by us and completed the cross island hike, also finishing it off with a Wigmores giant ice cream!
In keeping with our new fitness regime our next day off saw us tackle the challenge of cycling the 32km around the island. We had a slight lie in and decided to set off before the temperature got too hot. First stop on our round the island tour was “Cocoput”, as you are probably aware we are big fans of a crazy golf course and did not want to pass up an opportunity
to play golf at the only course in all of the Cook Islands and we both managed a hole in one during our round. . . . . oh and by the way I won not Cerri! Continuing on our bike ride, we made a brief stop to see the Queens Representatives home before making our way next to the Maire Nui Gardens for a spot of lunch and a wander round the botanical gardens enjoying the variety of flowers and plants whilst testing out the macro mode on the camera! We then moved on to a little spot called “Fruits of Rarotonga”, where opposite is a great beach and spot to go snorkelling. The man in the dive shop where we had bought our mask and snorkel set advised us to walk a hundred metres to the right where you could see a tree log embedded in the coral reef out to sea, he said this was one of the best places to snorkel on the island. It was a cracking spot to see the many different types of fish and we had it all to ourselves. We had purchased a water proof camera bag back in NZ and
Possible new employer!?
decided that we’d give it a go, praying that it wouldn’t leak and ruin our camera. After several hundred photos of the tropical fish we dried off, got back on the bikes heading back towards the EHF Clinic stopping enroute at an ancient Ceremonial Marae and the Cook Islands Football Association headquarters for an obligatory photo. With our bums starting to get a bit saddle sore we pulled over at our favourite bar Trader Jacks for a refreshment before getting back on the home stretch, taking a couple of comedy photo’s with the statue of the god “Tangaroa” who has a rather large manhood!
Over the coming days we treated a pig with Pneumonia originally called “Kermit” but we then changed it to “Houdini” after the amount of times it managed to escape from its pen! Cerri and I were offered the opportunity to assist in the castration some stray cats ourselves, and so we thought balls to it why not give it a go! Along with head vet for the day Mims we successfully castrated 3 cats between us. We both went out on visits with Jordana Banana, I went and visited a goat that had been attacked
Me & Houdini
by a pack of dogs whilst Cerri went to see a man whose bull had skin problems. To be able to drive over here you have to have a Cook Islands drivers Licence, so we headed down to the Police Station to pick up our new drivers licence which only cost us $20 and also makes a nice souvenir. Seeing as it was the Rarotonga Road Race week, I took part in the 5km fun run one night and once again we managed to get my mugshot in the newspaper! A major operation took place at EHF, with a dog that had swallowed several bones that had got stuck in its oesophagus so Jordana Banana, Framey and Beatriz had to get elbow deep inside the dog’s stomach to remove the bones. Also one of the Puppies managed to open its eyes and walk for the first time, which was a special moment for Cerri who had spent the majority of her time and effort trying to get the mum “Lucy” to take an interest in her litter of puppies.
During the evening we had a few drinks and a fire down on the beach, watched another beautiful sunset and
went to see the Highland Paradise show. We boarded the bus for the Highland Paradise and the driver set about asking who wanted to be the chief of tribe, the bus fell silent so muggings here decided to stick his hand up and volunteer. I was now the proud chief of Team “Yellow Waka” and my first task when we arrived at the event was to present a peace offering to the Head Chief of the Highland Paradise tribe along with the three other volunteers from the other buses. We were advised to what we had to say to the chief, but with me having a memory like a sieve I had already forgotten what I had to say but luckily I was last up so heard what everybody had said and just followed suit. From here the evening progressed nicely with the host entertaining the crowd with a mixture of comedy and history which was followed by some amazing traditional dancing. Little did I know that the dancing was leading up to something.... yes that’s right a dance competition between myself and the other 3 chiefs. Now everybody who knows me clearly knows that I cannot dance at the
best of times, let alone being stone cold sober with a crowd of about hundred or so watching! But with the crowd and Team EHF cheering me on I gave it a go, and the only way I can describe what happened up on stage was an kind of synergy between traditional pacific island dancing mixed with Peter Crouch’s robot moves in true Banjo style!!! We had to dance three times in total before they picked an unsuspecting judge from the crowd which happened to be Jordana Banana but before she even managed to get out of her seat another cuddly looking lady came hurtling towards the stage, making me think my chances of even placing were now well and truly out of the window! After much deliberation the lady came to her decision about who was going to be the dancing champion for the evening. She obviously knew a good dancer when she saw one as she picked yours truly and decided to give me an extra prize for winning with a giant bear hug and several kisses; resulting in her lifting me off the floor and throwing me around the room!!! We can’t complement the Highland Paradise experience
enough as it was a cracking evening with a buffet fit for a king, in the words of Mims it was “AMAZING!” We also headed out one evening to go and see “Raro Idol”, which as its name suggests is the same as the UK’s Pop Idol. The event was held at the Staircase and we managed to get a half decent spot in the TV audience. Some of the singers where really good and we were shocked to see a man we’d met the previous week in the Karaoke bar drunk as a skunk as contestant number nine! Our leaving do from EHF was held at the Sails Restaurant down at Muri Lagoon, where we enjoyed a few cocktails followed by some of the best food we’ve had during our stay on the island.
We enjoyed our last two days in the Cook Islands by doing some more snorkelling at our favourite spot Fruits of Rarotonga, also the opportunity for Cerri to get even more red and we also visited the Cooks Lager Brewery for a few free samples. Framey challenged me to a game of Tennis, so we held the EHF Rarotonga Open down at the Edgewater
Special & Cerri
resort and after a hard fought game in the blazing sunshine I managed to come away with the winner’s trophy. We also took a crazy dog called “Nuttsy” down to the beach as she loved to swim, it was another wet activity as she decided to leap on us after her dip in the sea and drenched us. We couldn’t leave the veterinary clinic without naming a couple of animals after our good selves, there is now a short, fat, stumpy, female dog called “Banjo” and what can only be described as an albino puppy called “Cezzla”. On our last evening we head to the Hash Harriers weekly race and with this week being their birthday fancy dress was on the cards. As many of you know fancy dress costumes are my forte but there was a limited supply of cardboard boxes to make anything out of, so we just opted for the easy outfit in the form of Toga’s! After the Hash Harriers Birthday BBQ we said teary goodbyes to the animals and fellow volunteers at EHF and reluctantly grabbed our back packs to make our way to the airport to catch a flight back to Auckland, New Zealand.
We Heart Rarotonga
We had an incredible 4 weeks enjoying the stunning island of Rarotonga and we were really sad to leave as we made some amazing friends during our stay at EHF. We even think we might have made the wrong career decisions, as everybody thought we would have made great vets!!!
Ben & Cerri’s Tip Of The Fortnight - For Island dancing lessons from the 2010 Highland Paradise Dance Champion please contact Ben ”Banjo” Field on 0800 DANCE-YOUR-ASS-OFF!!!
There are more photos below