Monday, August 1, 2016

Mountain Safari

So far we’ve been around the outside of the island. This is where the beaches (duh!) and the main commercial centres are. But, hidden deep inside the dark interior, there are mysterious things lurking. OK, not that mysterious, but there is a Raro Mountain Safari Tours company that promises to take you places no other tour can go. This, it turns out, is because the proprietor owns the land, and only allows his own vehicles to use it.

We were picked up outside our bach at 8:30, and soon joined the rest of the expedition. There were four 4-wheel drive vehicles in our convoy. We had nine passengers – ourselves and fellow Kiwis Carl and Molly, and the rest were West Islanders from Melbourne. Our driver, Captain Pa, turned out to be a Wellingtonian as well, so we had a chat about the success (so far) of the Hurricanes this season.

Our trip took us to Raro’s one and only waterfall, Called Papua’s or Wigmore’s waterfall. It also sits in the catchment for the main water supply for the island. We then drove back to the coast and visited Muri beach, where one of the other drivers, known as Mr. Useless, told us the legend of the seven canoes that departed on a voyage of discovery to the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa. We call it New Zealand these days. We drove back into the interior, with Pa pointing out the local crops and wild fauna and flora along the way. When we got to the mountain track up onto private property, the track became quite steep. It had been raining in the morning so there was a bit of mud about, but fortunately this also meant we weren’t eating the dust of the truck in front all the way. We made it up to the high point from where we could see The Needle, and the lush rainforest surrounding, as well as look down to the sea.

There's a Needle growing out of your head!
At the top, Chico, the main tour guide gave – guess what?! – a demonstration of how to open a coconut with a sharp stick, before cracking it with a single blow from a hard object. He then gave us a short lecture on how all the various parts of the coconut were used, with nothing going to waste. We drank the coconut water, ate the inside (he showed us how to get it out with a blunt knife). At this point two chickens turned up…I’m guessing they usually do at this time, because they know that there’s free coconut on offer.

We took some photos, got back aboard our trucks, and drove down a slightly less hair-raising way to a site near the airport, where we had our lunch of barbecue chicken and salad. Whilst eating we were entertained by the self-styled “worst band in Rarotonga”, (our drivers, natch) who gave us some traditional tunes.

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