Friday, December 9, 2011

Rarotonga - Market Day and Te Vara Nui Village

Saturday, February 19

Saturday Market in Avarua
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Kia orana! Everybody got up early this morning, and we went to the market in Avarua. Some vendors are here daily, but most are only here on Saturday. There were so many vendors! We stayed for hours, browsing here, browsing there, and making mental notes about what we'll purchase. Next Saturday at the market. Because market day is a big deal, and you don't want to ruin it by already having all your purchases made!

There's a covered stage set up conveniently in the middle of the market, and, on this day, there were young people who were doing traditional dancing as a fundraiser for a trip they were taking to another island. The little girls were too cute! I was trying to take photos but ended up accidentally turning on the movie function on my camera. It was a happy mistake, and I hope the video works for you.

A picture, in case the video doesn't
work for you. Aren't they cute?
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
There were lots of food vendors, and everything sounded really good. We finally decided on some meat on a stick ($2NZ per stick) and a fresh fruit smoothie. The meat was tender and flavorful and delicious, and the smoothy was wonderfully cooling. Just the ticket to refresh us and keep us going.

We came home from market, had a swim, then got ready for the dance show extravaganza. We had made reservations at Te Vara Nui Village (Muri) and went to pick up our tickets at the designated hour. Note to self: Bring a discount coupon for each person next time, as it turns out that the coupon is only good for one admission (unlike at home, where one coupon will get everybody in your party a discount). So, we only got one $10NZ discount. Ah, well. Live and learn. We mentioned to the nice lady at the desk that it might be a good idea and create less confusion if the coupon clearly stated “Good for one admission” or “One coupon per person” or something like that. She was unimpressed with our helpfulness.

The ticket we purchased included a cultural tour of the recreated Polynesian village as well as the dinner show.

Pretty fierce looking!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The cultural tour was very interesting and covered costuming and traditional medicines and traditional construction and fishing traditions and weaving with coconut fronds. There was a demonstration of how to climb a coconut tree, which you apparently have to do if you're going to harvest the green (“young”) coconuts that are so much a part of the diet here (and from which we get the coconut water that is all the rage to drink right now). They showed how to remove the husk from the coconut with a sharp stick, and how to open the coconut with a single blow from the back of a large knife, and how to make coconut cream from the coconut meat. They talked about the importance of coconut in their culture and about the value of coconut for nutrition and hydration. I was mesmerized, as I absolutely love coconut. The tour was well worth the expense, I thought. And when it was time for the dance lesson, My husband “volunteered” and was chosen. He was a good sport and actually seemed to enjoy it. And, of course, I enjoyed it tremendously!

My husband (center) getting his groove on.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Then came the dinner, which included lots of variety – fish in coconut milk, curried beef, chicken baked in the ground, lamb wrapped in taro leaf, and so on. Everything was delicious, well-presented, and plentiful. The bench tables were a little too close together, though, and that made it difficult to get up and sit down. But we managed. Where there's a will, there's a way.

The dance show was absolutely fantastic. I don't know how they can move like that in the first place, much less for an hour. The stamina required is amazing. The girls were stunningly beautiful, and the guys had those great thighs that Karen wanted to see. The fire dancers were unbelievable. This particular show is centered around local mythology and legend, so it tells a story rather than simply being a skillful demonstration of native dance. The musicians, drummers, and singers were also excellent, and the entire experience was one well worth repeating. I highly recommend it.

Dancing with the dancers. Notice the glistening skin.
Photo by Jo Gade. All rights reserved.
After the show, the dancers joined the spectators for a little social, and Bob and I were each invited to dance by one of the dancers. It was tons of fun, right up until it started being painful. The dancers moved gracefully, their exposed skin a glistening bronze sheen, while we laughed nervously, gasped for air, and awkwardly attempted to cool off by pulling the sweaty fabric away from our sticky, sweaty selves (not too successfully). However, it was a fabulously entertaining thing, and I'd definitely do it again. But maybe I'd wear fewer clothes. Don't tell my mom.

As I mentioned, the dancers were amazing. The professional dancers, that is. By the way, the gorgeous young lady dancing with Bob happened to be Miss South Pacific. How about that? Her name is Christine.

And speaking of Christians (“Christine” meaning “follower of Christ”), the Master of Ceremonies tonight made a point of making sure everyone knew that Rarotonga is a Christian island. There was grace said over the food, “as is traditional here in Rarotonga.” During the cultural tour, which was all about the ancient culture of the island, they started out by saying that the English brought the Gospel to the Cook Islands, for which they are grateful. And so on. How very refreshing. No wonder I feel so at home, at peace, here.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we're going to the church in our neighborhood. We're all looking forward to it, me especially!  

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