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Published: September 11th 2007
Our short Air Rarotonga flight touched down in the tropical island of Aitutaki following a stunning decent that gave us a jaw-dropping panorama of the collection of islands and atolls held within the large, turquiose lagoon. Since Aitutaki is an island held within a lagoon (just like Rarotonga) the water off the beeches are shallow, clear and still and if you stand at the shore, it won't be long before a shoal of small fish patrol past. The main island of Aitutaki is really small and it's a wonder how they managed to fit in a runway. The island has a proportionate population of some 2,000 welcoming and friendly souls.
We wanted to use our Cook Islands driver's licences again so we picked ourselves up another couple of mopeds. This let us explore the island's deserted beeches and venture inland, over rough farm tracks of roads, to the basic and simple villages of the natives. Everyone we met were nice people. If we passed someone in their garden while driving past on our mopeds, they would put down what they were doing to turn and smile and wave. When we encountered anyone driving in the opposite direction on the road,
they would smile and nod.
Our accommodation was very basic, a hostel called Tom's Beech Cottage on the western shore line. Tom showed Trung and I to our seperate rooms - the first time we've slept in private rooms for 6 weeks! In saying that, I didnt sleep entirely alone on that first night curtesy of the local lizards, insects and mice, who rustled around my poly bags lying on the floor. There were gekkos all over the hostel, bolting up and down the walls, behind electricity fittings and dusty picture frames holding faded old portraits of Tom's family. Poor 'Aitutaki George', the house cat who appeaered to have been involved in some sort of road accident seemed perpetually frustrated to have all these gekkos running riot around the house and not being able to do anything about it with what looked like an unfixed broken paw. Trung reckons the gekkos feed on the mozzies which makes them all good with me.
Tom's cottage was quite a surreal place, almost eerie. Along with Trung and I, there was only one other hosteler who stayed there with us, English Stu, who had arrived on the same flight. At night,
there were just the three of us in Tom's dark, old house. It used to be Tom's family home and the combination of old wedding shots, family memorabilia and the wildlife inside reminded me of a mini version of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
On one evening, we went to see another Island Night where the locals sang and danced to live music. At the end of the night, when we were finishing our drinks, some drunk, young local lass saddled up. I was doing all I could to be polite yet completely uninterested (an acceptable contradiction given the circumstances) while Trung and Stu enjoyed my discomfort. The final straw came when she suggested I come and live with her in Aitutaki and have children together! Time for a sharp exit lads!
On a beautiful and sunny August 14th, we hired kayaks from the pretty Samadi Resort. This area is the most picture postcard perfect place on Aitutaki's main land and it was wonderful to kayak out and bob up and down on the mint blue sea that stretched deep below. Trung was feeling more energetic and set off across the lagoon to one of the uninhabitited
atolls and back. I veered across to a closer beech to 'park up' and absorb the stunning surroundings.
The folllowing day, we went on the highlight of the Aitutaki stint by taking a day trip to some of the more remote and tiny islands. It was great fun racing out the lagoon in a rapid speedboat (check the movie clip at the top of the page) and stopping off at the idyllic One Foot Island (passport stamped!), Honeymoon Island, Maina Island and Moturuku Island, the majority of which could be walked around in times between 5 to 10 minutes. The latter is the one used in Shipwrecked on Channel 4 and we just got there in time, with it due to close to tourists to start another series next week.
After 5 days in Aitutaki, we flew back to Rarotonga, chilled out in town all day, then flew to Fiji to continue our South Pacific escapade.
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