Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Raratonga was laying ahead of us, and we sailed into the little harbor, Avatiu at about 15h30. Johan called the Harbor Master on channel 12, and the gentleman sounded a bit surprised. Indeed, we were the only sailing vessel sailing into the little harbor, and it was obvious that they were busy with construction work in the harbor, and not prepared for yachts. The Harbor Master was the guy waving at us, and we dropped the anchor, and Johan reversed us politely as close as possible to the grey concrete harbor wall . No walk on jetty, but big black tires were waiting for us to clamber on to reach land!

 Even the guy from Quarantine with his fumigating canister couldn`t get aboard and handed the canister to Joe to fumigate Andando. The rest of the inspectors and Immigration officials sat us down eventually on a wooden bench in front of Andando .

No air conditioned offices today! After our passports were stamped we walked into town along the beautiful beach with the hibiscus fringing the roads. We found the Internet café to check out the weather, at 9 N$ per hour, but only after this !!!!!!

It wasn`t a peaceful night with the big concrete wall just too close for comfort. We were the talk of the town, and people popped in, or must I say over the wall to say hello . We heard about the bus, which take you around the island clock wise or anti if you like, in a couple of hours. But the boys saw the scooters for rent, and decided that after Customs and Immigration we have to spare three hours or so to see the island. However it was cleaning time on Andando while our Skipper did all the formalities.

 I bought my post cards and they were off to my people, and at the offices of the New Zealand Consulate we bumped into a South-African! Afrikaans! It sounded so strange to hear that on the street, coming from another human beings` mouth. It was like a little piece of home, and we clung to that to try and make it longer. She, Marcelle , told us about her life in New Zealand and how she and Deon ended up on this lovely island, and now are expecting their first baby! We made a date to quickly see them after work, just to share a little bit more…

All the formalities were done, the padeye fitting fasten and we rented the two scooters. The two Joe`s international licences expired, but luckily it was no problem. They did a very quick drive up the road with the two bikes and came back unharmed and the guy from Budget was pleased to leave the two scooters in their hands and issued 2 Rarotonga motorbike lisences for them. Well, with the speed limit for scooters and bikes at 40km p/h and cars at 50km p/h I felt safe, and with only 32km to drive around the whole island, I felt only better!

It was great to see this little island with about 13 000 inhabitants, and they are steadily declining. We stopped at the fruit stalls, but didn`t buy the local expensive pine apples at 12NZ$!

The street vendors in South Africa will smile at these prices - R 72 a piece
We went for a quick walk through the “closed” gardens, and found delicious grenadellas waiting for us to munch on them. We did not take the banana bunch with this time....

 We found the street where our new South African friends are living, and the wooden fish colored in our flag colors at the entrance,send back a homey warmth.

Deon & Marcelle's street - proudly South Africans
Apparently the lagoon is unbelievably beautiful to snorkel or dive, but we had to settle for a dip in the sea.

Just more than three hours later our final sightseeing stop was the old church with the graves from the 1800`s, and I couldn`t resist taking a picture of the little grave to remember these old graves.

We gave back the scooters minutes before 16h00, catching the office before closing time. We were just in time to buy a little bit of fresh stuff,and the most beautiful potatoes from New Zealand, the first nice ones since we left South-Africa! On our way back to Andando, we said good bye to Raratonga`s Tiki`s smiling upon us.

 Marcelle and Deon climbed aboard, and another South-African, Wayne, joined us, diving into the water to reach Andando. We showed them Andando and they could not believe the space and comfort of this beautiful Maverick 400 Catamaran. He is a school teacher in Rarotonga! Looks like our people are on the move! We were invited to a South-African barbeque, but we had to go! They said good bye with a fresh bread and a packet of lamb and delicious sausages…we have to ‘braai’ them somewhere on our journey! We waved them good bye with fresh tuna, the only gift we had.

In the front from left - Deon, Marcelle, Wayne

KIA ORANA…May you live on! It is the greeting in Raratonga, and we waved three people good bye, which only shared our lives for an hour and a bit…

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