25th February 2011
Our penultimate morning in the Cook Islands started overcast, and was threatening rain, not a promising start. We had decided that we would attempt to go to the cultural market, that we knew takes place on a Saturday morning, a day early as we thought being a market it may be on everyday. So getting on the bike off we headed at the early hour of 8am. We arrived in town not much later to an almost deserted market place, with only a few stalls being set up. Maybe we were too early, everybody works on “island time” after all.
So we headed further into town to grab something for breakfast and to give the place a chance to liven up whilst we did. We even asked in the supermarket whilst buying said breakfast (a cheese pastry) if the market was open today, and were told it was.
So after breakfast taken sat on a bench in the middle of the town, we headed back in the direction of the market. There was no more life on our return than there had been on our arrival, so we abandoned that and decided that
Coconuts start life on the tree
note they are yellow so nearly ready to drop.
we would return tomorrow on the allotted day.
We drove back to the hostel, with the compulsory diet coke stop for Lou, and swiftly applied some sunscreen as the early morning’s rain laden clouds had passed to reveal bright sunshine.
It was however very windy and the decent sized swell pounding the reefs around the island was giving off a fair bit of spray and making this yet another day when surfing wouldn’t occur. These dream surf destinations have been somewhat unkind to me on this trip. Maybe I’m getting too fussy in my old age?
Anyway with that out of the window there was little to do other than relax the day away. A few hours of hard relaxing and I decided a trip to the brewery for a top up of the coke bottle was in order, for the last couple of days, so onto the scooter we hopped and off we went.
10km down the road (anticlockwise) we arrived at our destination to find nobody at home. Oh well its not meant to be I guess, so we returned to some hard relaxing at the hostel.
There is only so much relaxing
This one is sprouting
which means no water inside
one can do before it truly tires you out and you need a break, so at about 14:30 I decided that it was time to check the brewery again. Off we went and this time we were in luck. Eric was there with his little boy, who was 5, who had just finished school for the week and was proudly showing us his “Star of the Week” award for reading. I got some more beer and once again we headed back to the hostel.
It had always been our plan to eat out tonight so after a bit more tough work relaxing I headed out to check out a variety of potential dinner destinations. Although all in walking distance so I could have a beer, it clearly made sense to check them out on the bike!
Anyway after I had viewed three places I came back to report. Option one, pricey but classy, 1km away. Option 2, cheap pub grub 1km away in the other direction. Option 3, all you can eat pizza, accompanied by all you can drink beer between 16:30 and 19:30, 500m away.
No huge prizes for guessing where we went! The pizza was
decent, although no doubt not made on site, and the beer wasn’t bad either. We got chatting whilst there to “Nan” the large bar lady who had a pretty wicked sense of humour, and a couple of Kiwi guys who were using this as the launch pad for a night of pub crawl antics. We were invited but that was a pass I was not going to manage to get! The Kiwi boys may have had almost 45 minutes head start but I managed to finish the evening level pegging on drinks drunk, not bad in my view. We headed home full and slightly tipsy in my case. Lou then fell asleep after a bit more intensive reading whilst I stayed up chatting to a few guys in the hostel including a medical student who had just finished 2 months on Aitutaki working in the hospital there. 26th February 2011
Today was destined to be a long day as we had to check out at 11am but our ride to the airport wouldn’t pick us up until 10pm. So when we started the day at 7:25am so that we could visit the Cultural Market in town
Cracked sprouting coconut
No fluid, but a tasty foam that is known as Marshmallow
and Lou having packed her bag couldn’t find her phone, the day wasn’t shaping up well. The number of times Lou loses things and I find them I can count on one hand so when I found it in her washbag in her backpack, bragging rights were most certainly mine for the day - I wasn’t going to let it pass without some fanfare after all.
With this minor delay sorted we headed to the market. It was interesting but curry for breakfast wasn’t floating our boat, and we weren’t really in the market for carved wooden sculptures to take home. Lou was however adamant that we needed a souvenir of some sort and we eventually came away with some new napkins for the dining room.
On our return to the hostel we had to check out so all the bags bar a few items for the day were put into the office under lock and key and I then left Lou behind with the remains of the stuff whilst I returned the bike to the rental place. This involved one last petrol fill up, whilst paying for the petrol the heavens opened which was the last thing
The remnants of the husks
easy to do when you know how, if not really hard work.
I needed, but by the time I had driven 1km in the other direction it stopped and the sun returned.
The bike returned safely, I walked back to the hostel in the heat, arriving back at the hostel for our last day of Cook Island lazing. The day consisted of eating a few coconuts, teaching a few people how to open coconuts, eating noodles, and blogging. That was really that until we were finally showered and changed into our clothes for the flight and picked up for our lift at 10pm to the airport.
I had expected the blog to end there, but Air New Zealand had a different idea. After we were dropped off we got in the long queue to check in the bags. This was a bit tedious but we got there eventually and we were given our boarding passes.
Moving on to the next stop on our way to depart we had to queue to pay the departure tax (only $110 for the pair of us!) From here we queued to go through the scanners at immigration (why is it you emigrate when you leave, and you go through immigration on the way
The birds eating any leftovers
not my coconut I would like to point out!
into a country, but you also go through immigration on the way out? Surely it should be emmigration control?) This was a slow and tedious process as we are flying to the states and so they scan everything and pat down everybody more thoroughly than anywhere else we have ever been.
We get through this and get into the departure lounge only about 20 minutes before the plane was due to depart and we were far from near the end of the queue. This flight was clearly going to be late!
About 10 minutes late we started boarding, and when we got to the desk to show our boarding cards there was a problem. The person who was checking our boarding passes was the woman who had issued them, yet suddenly we weren’t sat together. She didn’t understand it and neither did we. The was some confusion at which point we were told that somebody else had reserved those seats online so we had been moved. This was not good so they started trying to re-arrange things so we would be together, yet the plane was full, so they eventually said we should just go to the seats
we had originally been allotted and deal with it later.
So we got on the plane and sure enough the other people that had been given the seats were already on board and sat in our seats, so we returned to the front of the plane and spoke to the head of the cabin staff. He was very apologetic and tried to sort it out whilst we stood by the door as the other passengers boarded. Soon enough we were the only people left standing up and despite asking if people would move the best they could manage was to get us seats in front of each other. An improvement on the 12 row gap we had had earlier but still not ideal.
Eventually we went and sat down, on the walk to the seats a fare few people were glaring at us thinking that we were the reason for the delay in take off, as of course the minute we sat down we started to move! The crew did however treat us like we were in business class (which they couldn’t upgrade us to because it was also full) so we got champagne before we took off,
and they kept checking if everything was ok. A minor bonus for the inconvenience that we had been through. A few films later and we finally got to sleep, by now it was nearly 4am local time and probably closer to 6am LA time. Its going to be a long day tomorrow.
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