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Published: November 24th 2009
The Cook Islands are a group of 15 islands or atolls stretched out across the South Pacific. We have spent the last ten days on the main island of Rarotonga, the largest of the group at 67 square kilometers. Arriving at 2:30 in the morning, we disembarked the airplane and walked across the tarmac to the smallest airport we've ever been in. We were greeted by a warm tropical breeze and a local playing the ukelele. Once through customs we were directed to Bill, the man from the hostel who was waiting to pick us up. "Welcome to Paradise!" he said as he loaded us up into the van. After a long sleep, we awoke to a beautiful tropical island surrounded by a white beach and aqua lagoon with a lush mountainous interior. We've spent most of our time here just relaxing and soaking up the sun - after a busy year of travelling it's been nice to be on "vacation". The main road that circles the island is only 32 kilometers so we rented bicycles to get ourselves around and we also rented a kayak to explore the lagoon. The water here is incredibly clear and we've done a lot
of snorkelling and we even got in a couple of dives. While snorkelling we were able to spot many tropical fish, including a triggerfish which charged at us when we accidentally got too close to her babies. The diving was through large coral gardens with a big old anchor, a giant moray eel, many sea cucumbers and sea urchins, and a variety of fish, with the best visibility we've dived in yet.
We were lucky enough to be here for two of the Saturday Punanganui Markets which are a celebration of the Cook Islands Maori culture. There were many cultural performances with Polynesian style dancing and music. In addition to all of the music and dancing, there were many stalls selling local food, clothes, and jewellery. The whole event had a great ambiance to it and the locals seemed to enjoy it as much as the tourists did. We also went to an "Island Night" at one of the bars in town. Again, it was a celebration of local music and dance. The entertainers are very talented and have done performances all over the world. After the performances had finished, a DJ began playing regular house music, but the
locals were still the best dancers!
After a year abroad, it's difficult to believe we're on our way back to North America! It's amazing how quickly a year can fly by! It's a bittersweet feeling - we're very excited to come home and see our families and friends and have "Canadian things" but it's been such an awesome adventure that we're sad to see it come to an end. But it's not quite over yet... we've got ten more days to check out LA and Las Vegas with Jess and Tyler!!
See you soon!
Cass & Andrew
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