Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rarotonga - Wigmore Falls and Earthquake News

Monday, February 21

Waterfront in Avarua
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Kia orana!

This morning, we went to Avarua to get more internet time and to shop. We got groceries, and we got our exit tax taken care of. I wonder how many people decide to bag the exit tax and just stay on the island? That's what I wanted to do...

By the way, when you go to the bank to pay your exit tax, be sure you already have enough cash on you to do so, or else use the ATM right outside. You can use a credit card at the bank, but it's charged as a cash advance. So, if your ATM fees are less (which mine would have been), you're better off to get cash first, then go inside. As you no doubt know, interest starts being charged tout de suite on a cash advance.

She made that basket in five minutes!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We took the “back road” to see the agricultural areas. The back road parallels the main road on parts of the island. We found a couple of ladies selling fruit alongside the road, so, naturally, we stopped to purchase some. While we made our selection of bananas, young coconut, starfruit, and papaya, one of the ladies made a coconut frond basket for us to carry our purchases in. This is something that you'll find pretty often as you drive about. They don't charge you for the basket, either. And there's no plastic bag to deal with. I determined that I would find materials back home to make baskets or bags with so as to reduce my impact on the environment.

We also drove up to the hospital to see what it looks like. Hmm. Not exactly “third world” looking; on the other hand...

Wigmore Falls
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
On the way back to the house, we decided to go to Wigmore Falls, which is a lovely little spot a tiny bit inland. The mosquitoes started attacking as soon as I opened the car door. It surprised me, because we hadn't had a problem with bugs at all. And, naturally, I hadn't applied bug repellant beforehand. So, there I was, using my Deet towelette, smashing skeeters as I rubbed the stuff all over. Next time, use the bug repellant first, silly girl!

Back at the house, we made lunch and went for a snorkel. Then we heard the news on the radio that there had been a big earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, with major damage. We still hadn't been able to get our television to work.

I went next door to alert the folks in the other house who were from New Zealand and had just come out of the water from their snorkel. Naturally, they were frantic to talk to their loved ones back home. Happily, we all found out that everyone was fine; however, the home of one of their sons was lost to liquefaction, and the mother-in-law's house was uninhabitable because it had split in half. Knowing how spotty and downright wrong information can be during such emergencies, we took the doomsday reports of the dead and wounded and missing to be overestimates (as they normally are). But there were 65 confirmed deaths at that point, with more probably to come. Not good.

I watched the reports on the television next door for a little while, then went back to our place to find that my husband had managed to get a picture on one channel. Good job! So, this evening, we are glued to the television set. We're grateful that our friends next door are in contact with their intact families, but we're sad for many others for whom life has just become a wasteland of devastation.

Would there be a tsunami? We had been told that because of the local geography, with the steep drop-off right on the other side of the reef, any tsunami would be held at bay. But you can be sure that we were watching the tide very carefully, and we were prepared to head to the hills on a moment's notice! And, if you've been reading along, you already know that we had familiarized ourselves with the nearest tsunami escape route. Thankfully, that wasn't necessary.

Photo by Harry. All rights reserved.
Dinner tonight was prepared by Bob and Jo, and it was lovely: cucumber salad, rice, and curried tuna. Very nicely prepared, and absolutely delicious. As was our custom, we ate out on the deck, where there's a very nice teakwood table and chairs. And we watched the lagoon for any sign of emptying...

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