Friday, August 22, 2008

Rarotonga - Southern Cook Islands

We departed Bora Bora, French Polynesia on August 9th after a 10 day wait for the weather to change. Our four day three night passage was not the most pleasant that we’ve had, but it was probably the fastest with winds reaching 35 knots and our average boat speed of 7 knots. It was on this passage that many of us took a bath in the cockpit, not of our own choice mind you, but that of the huge waves that found their way under the canvas enclosure and onto the, sometimes sleeping, crew. That is not a very pleasant way to wake up!

We arrived in Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga, Cook Islands at 10:30pm and with the help of friends aboard Orca III and Dorothy Marie, snuggled into our little spot, med-moored to the Quay. Although the anchorage was very rolly, the crew of Malachi slept as if it were flat calm, which, in comparison to the 10 – 15 foot swells on the crossing, it was.

Rarotonga is such a lovely island. The people are very very friendly and, best of all, they speak English!!! After 9 months away from English speaking countries, we can’t tell you how nice it is to communicate so easily with the local people.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from, none of which will break the cruising budget. It’s funny, though, that when you’re dining outdoors here, that you constantly have to shoo the roosters away! They’re always hanging around looking for a hand out, and they seem to be particularly fond of chips (that is French fries). Just a side note: did you know that the French do not call them French fries? They call the frites and they’re not even from France, they’re from Belgium.

There is a huge market here on Saturday mornings, and if you so desire, you can start your experience at 5am, but we felt that 7:30 was plenty early enough for us. The market offers a bounty of fresh veggies and a little bit of fruit as well as fresh flowers, locally made crafts and a huge choice of dining fare. We had the most amazing waffles for breakfast last Saturday – a nice crispy Belgium waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, papaya, banana, fresh coconut and your choice of maple syrup, strawberry or chocolate sauce…….MMMMMMMMMMM!

We have rented a scooter here for the week, which is lots of fun, but you have to have a license in order to drive it. We rented the bike first (strange actually) then walked it next door to the police station where we did our driving test. Jay passed, but I failed seeing as it was my first time ever riding a motor bike – they wouldn’t even let me practice first! Anyway, I did practice over the weekend and, on Monday morning, along with our friends Natalie & Dave; I did the test again and passed. Now we both have Cook Island driver’s licenses. It’s quite strange; actually, to drive on the wrong side of the road, you really have to concentrate.

On Sunday, Jay & I rode in to the Cook Islands Community Church to attend their morning service. Although the sermon and singing were delivered in Rarotongan when we were expecting English, it was a lovely service, the islanders sing out loud with all of their hearts which is indeed a joyful noise! Spiritual food for the soul!

There have been so many boats with kids here, that there is always some kind of fun happening on the wharf. Jared from Tin Soldier had his birthday party and there were kids from 7 boats to help celebrate! Not long after that, the skateboards from O’vive appeared and kids young and old were giving it a try. Jenny was particularly interested in trying out Emilie’s Rip Stick, a crazy two wheeled skate board that pivots in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s harder than it looks and she took a bad fall and broke her ankle. She is now in a cast for the next 4-6 weeks. As a result of this accident, however, we were once again exposed to the kindness of the islanders when Gary, from The Dive Center, kindly drove us up to the hospital and even offered to wait with us to drive us back. The staff in emergency was amazing too. Jenny was examined, x-rayed and cast all within an hour. Everyone has been so great helping Jenny get around.

Jay, Dave and Steve worked together to fashion Jenny her own pair of custom crutches as there are none on the island for sale. This was a labour of love to provide Jenny some freedom and mobility for which she is truly thankful. Good job guys!
Yesterday, the whole island, it seems, turned out to welcome a small sailing vessel that was returning from two months at sea. And what a welcome it was! I hope all our family and friends will be there to welcome us in similar fashion when we return to Vancouver next summer.

We are currently waiting for our New Zealand visitor’s visas to be processed. We should have them today or tomorrow. It is our plan to depart after the Saturday morning market. We can’t wait to go back for those amazing waffles!!!

No comments: