Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rarotonga - Avarua

February 15

Kia orana! What a gorgeous day, cooler and less humid. There were a couple of rain showers, but it was mostly sunny with clouds covering sometimes. A very pleasant day.

If you feel a couple of rain drops, look out! Get the chair pads in the house and yourself under shelter quick, because, within seconds, it begins to pour buckets. And I mean a torrential downpour. Those first few drops that spit from the clouds are a warning. Heed it. But if you happen to be in the water already, who cares?

This morning, the water was calm and clear by the house. The folks in the next villa said the snorkeling was awesome, but Karen and Jo needed to go to town (Avarua) to get their driver's licenses. They cost $10NZ and are kind of a souvenir item. But they're real driver's licenses, and you do have to have one of them to drive here. If you're planning to ride a scooter or motorcycle, they will road test your skills in a little area next to the building. Otherwise, they just accept your driver's license from home.
Just stick your camera out the window and click. You can't go wrong!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

Anyway, we all went to Avarua, which is the main village on the island. The airport is there, and the large grocery store (CITC Supermarket), Pananga Nui Market (most vendors only there on Saturdays), Avatiu Harbor, and some shops and restaurants. But it's just a few blocks by a few blocks. It's at the opposite side of the island from where our house is (Titikaveka), and it takes maybe 20 minutes to get there. Seriously. What traffic there is runs smoothly, but it's weird to be on the wrong side of the road (that is to say, the left side). And the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car (that is to say, the right side). Be careful when leaving your driveway, as it's easy to end up facing the grill of someone else's car or, worse, someone on a scooter.

Black Rocks
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved. 
We ate fish (marlin) panini for lunch. We saw Muri Beach. The color of the water there is surreal, and there are little islands called “motus” (pronounced mo'tooz) inside the reef, in the lagoon. We went beachcombing for seashells at Black Rocks (which is by the airport runway). So, yes, we went all the way around the island. It was a perfect day. Not too hot, sun not too bright. Don't forget your wide-brimmed hat, good sunglasses, and plenty of SPF50. Just sayin'. You don't want to spend your wonderful tropical vacation in the hospital. At least, not this one. Again, just sayin'. Cook Islanders go to New Zealand for anything serious at all, and I was told by more than one person that there's no way they'd go to the hospital here for ANY reason. And we did notice that the tombstones don't scream out “We live long!” But I digress.
Motu at Muri Beach
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

This afternoon, the snorkeling was markedly better than yesterday's, though the water wasn't as clear as Bob says it can be. The visibility was 10 – 15 feet. Since I'm a novice-type snorkeler at this point, and not the world's strongest swimmer, it was a little disconcerting to have a coral head loom at me suddenly, what with the slight current and all. There were scads of beautiful and colorful fish, blue starfish, sea cucumbers galore, nice coral. The colors are surprising and enthralling. Such variety, and such...weird-looking creatures! I'm looking forward to truly clear water, because it's going to be spectacular.

I'm a person who needs some “down” time in order to decompress, and a walk on the beach is just the thing. Especially here! We're all still a little tired and stressed and haven't completely relaxed yet, and we're learning how to navigate living together under one roof, getting used to how we all do things. But we're doing pretty well, I think. We had burgers for dinner tonight.

The moon is almost full, and the light sparkles on the water. There are so many stars! The waves crash on the reef a couple of hundred yards offshore, and the water laps gently at the white sand of the beach.
It's scandalous how crowded the beach is.
How about some privacy, people?!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

I spent a considerable amount of time today just looking at the turquoise waters framed in coconut palm fronds from our deck. It's mesmerizingly awesome. The most beautiful beach, with nobody on it. The most enticing lagoon, with nobody in it. There just aren't words to describe it. I don't even want to go anywhere else. Just give me that feast for my eyes. And to think that heaven is even better than this. It's hard to imagine. Thank you, God!

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