Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rarotonga - Getting Around, Eating Well, and Finding Bob

February 18

Maire Nui Tropical Gardens
Photo by Chris.
All rights reserved.
Kia orana!

There are some lovely gardens (Maire Nui Tropical Gardens) a few minutes down the road, and we walked there for breakfast at their little cafe. But it was closed. So, we walked on to Fruits of Rarotonga, where Bob said we'd find delicious and exotic tropical jams and things. But they were closed, too. And so we continued walking on to Muri Beach Resort. So, you can see that it isn't very far from Titikaveka to Muri. But it is a hot, sticky walk. At least, it was today! Don't forget your water bottle, no matter where you're going.

Anyhow, success! The Muri Beach Resort's cafe, Aqua, was open. We sat outside in the shaded patio, to catch a breeze. Harry had the most delicious coconut french toast. I had a bacon, cheese, and banana sandwich (grilled). It's amazing the things that sound good on a menu in the tropics, don't you agree? On paper, I'm with you. It sounds... “interesting.” Surprisingly, though, it was actually quite good. I ate every bite. The crunchiness of the bread, the saltiness of the bacon, the creaminess of the cheese, and the sweetness of the banana made for an “all in one” party for the taste buds. And, naturally, I tried a “flat white” coffee. It's basically a wet (or “white”) cappuccino, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, as I was. And it was simply outstanding. It smelled incredible. The flavor was amazing. (We thought it might be coffee from the Cook Island of Atiu, but it was from New Zealand. Good job, Kiwis!) So, now I'm going to be addicted to “flat whites,” I suppose.

Randomly throwing in a photo of the tsunami
escape route. Just so you know it's there.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The bus runs all the way around the island clockwise, and also counter-clockwise (or, locally, “anti-clockwise”). It comes around every half hour or so, and it's very reasonable. One-way fare is $4NZ, round-trip is $7NZ. Carry some cash. Rather than walking back to Titikaveka, we took the bus back to the house. We actually could have walked back in the amount of time it took to wait for the bus and ride back; however, we might have passed out from the heat and humidity in the process. We thought it wise to avoid that.

When we got home, we went for a snorkel. The water was so refreshing and wonderful. It's just amazing. I heard the strains of the “Adventures in Paradise” theme song again as I floated effortlessly in the calm water, enjoying the world “under the sea.” Uh, oh. By the way, I've been unable to find Nemo. That would be because, apparently, there aren't clown fish here. And if you followed all of that, pop the DVD out and back away from the television. Seriously.

Modeling our wide-brimmed hats.
Photo by Chris.
All rights reserved.
And then I learned how to tie a pareu dress so it looks good...yay! Note to self: When coming here next time, pack two pareus (pareux?), two bathing suits, one skirt, and two tops. And gallons of sunblock. And flip flops, reef shoes, and Keens. And a mask, snorkel, and fins. And a swim shirt (to protect the back and arms from the sun when snorkeling) and swim shorts (to protect the back of the legs). Even underwear is seeing minimal use, since I'm wearing a bathing suit most of the time. So, one to wear, one to dry, and a spare. I packed very “light,” but I haven't worn half of it at all yet. And I wouldn't need to (or so it seems). Don't forget the wide-brimmed hat. I have pins on mine from all the places it has been. Just a little quirk.

Bob was out there somewhere.
Can you spot him? Neither could we.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Bob went for a late afternoon snorkel for a couple of hours. We couldn't see him anywhere and started to wonder if he had drifted off somewhere, and Karen and I went looking for him up and down the beach, then drove to Fruits of Rarotonga, then doubled back over to the (park) beach on the far side of the vacation bungalows on the other side of us. No Bob. But we did meet some very nice folks from New Zealand, one of whom said he could be Bob if need be! He was wearing gear the same color as Bob's, so we called out to him before realizing we had the wrong guy. Oops.

Bob (our Bob, not the “I could be Bob” Bob) did come back, by the way. We needn't have been concerned, as he was wearing his flotation vest (since he was snorkeling alone) and had simply gone all the way to the reef, where he said he saw an amazing array of sea life. He couldn't bear to come back, I guess, until he was too tired to continue! The thing is that there are several places around the island where there's a break in the reef. You don't want to go out with the tide, you know?

Anyhow, one of the young men (He got married here and has been married for two years) actually came by the house a bit later to make sure we'd found Bob. How nice is that? He says he's stayed at “our” house several times (There is just no justice in the world!) and thinks it's the best house on the best snorkel beach on the island. I couldn't agree more.

I haven't mentioned our neighbors much, but we've had an opportunity to chat with them on a number of occasions, and they are friendly and fun. They're leaving to go back to Olympia, Washington (USA), tomorrow. So, some new folks will be moving in for the week. And also into the house behind us, I think, which is too bad but was bound to happen. That house has been empty all week, so the privacy and quiet have been outstanding.

For dinner, we made spaghetti and a salad. Now that we're all better rested and more relaxed, it's really fine. So, note to self: Day 1, breakfast on the way to the house, stop at the grocery store for breakfast/lunch foods for two days, and eat dinner out for two days. Then settle into the cooking routine if you want to. Oh, and get plenty of ice. And do bring your hard liquor (if any) from home. Maybe the prices look different when the dollar is stronger, though.

Photo by Bob Hampton. All rights reserved.
How we're spending our evening: Bob is editing the hundreds of photos that he took today. I think the fact that he's taking so many pictures is making the rest of us a bit lazy about taking our own, but that's okay. He said he will share.

Harry's doing a crossword puzzle, Karen is reading a travel magazine about Rarotonga, Jo is reading her book, I'm writing in my diary, and we're all listening to some tunes. Sounds familiar, eh? Life is so good right now. Breathe slowly. Listen to the sound of the geckos on the ceiling. Watch them hunt for the few bugs that are around. Sigh. I love Rarotonga, and it kills me that our vacation is nearly half over.

I see light from a flashlight in the water. The folks next door must be going on one last night snorkel. It sounds a bit scary to me, but I'm sure it must be very enjoyable, or they wouldn't be doing it again!

I wrote postcards to the folks back home today, as is my habit to do. I'll hope for a place to send them off tomorrow, and then I'll hope they get hoe before I do. That would be a first.

Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
One of my photo-taking frustrations, besides my camera seemingly not adjusting properly to whatever light is out there...bright, dim, overcast...it doesn't matter what. I think I might need a new camera, which is a bummer. Especially considering that I ordered a spare battery for this one (that arrived the day after we left home...naturally). Wait. Where was I? Oh, right. The frustration: Thus far, I have been unable to get a good picture of the peaks. They look so fabulous from the water, where you can see them rising majestically above the palm trees and vegetation. But once you're on land, the vegetation and closeness of everything just makes it very hard to capture the beauty and do justice to it. Perhaps I'll get a postcard for myself, too. [Note: Perhaps it was simply the moisture “fog” on the photo display, or the salty film on the viewer. The pictures, once I was able to really look at them, turned out fine. So, the camera was not in need of replacement, thankfully!]

Full moon in the clouds.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Tomorrow night, we are going to a Polynesian village tour, dinner, and show. It's supposed to be the best island show in Raro. I hope so! I understand each island group has its own style of dance, which makes sense, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it's done here in the Cooks. Karen says she wants to see the guys with the muscular thighs. I'm sure she is making a joke. Or not?

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