Sunday, July 31, 2016


We were up at sparrow fart on Sunday morning to catch the 6:45 plane to Auckland, in time for a 9:30 connection to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. We didn’t have an awful lot of time to spare as we trundled between the domestic and international terminal at Auckland, especially as when I tried to check in, my Air New Zealand app had changed from offering me a QR code to requiring a printed boarding pass. They’d been having a bit of technical difficulty, apparently. We grabbed a quick breakfast at Shaky Isles, then headed to the gate…

…where they told us the flight was delayed as the incoming flight had been late. We eventually got away about two hours after the scheduled departure. On the plus side, they decided that all the premium content on the in-flight entertainment would be provided for no charge, so I settled in to watch Deadpool. On the downside, it was getting on towards evening by the time we arrived and, so my best-laid plan, which had involved getting to the supermarket in the afternoon, went horribly aglay. After checking out our accommodations, we decided to go out for a bite to eat.
In case I’ve not pointed it out to you yet, we landed on Saturday. Yes, this is the island of the day before. We get two Saturdays this week!

Raro is a small volcanic island, and has a fairly basic public transportation system. There are two buses, clockwise and anti-clockwise. They take about 50 minutes to circumnavigate the island, and set off once an hour from the main town of Avarua, which (along with the airport) is at around 12 o’clock on the island. We are staying at 2 o’clock, and the next village round is Muri at 4 o’clock, where we wanted to eat our dinner. We went to Rickshaw’s Thai restaurant, which was pretty good with substantial portions. We’d not eaten since breakfast, so fell upon it like a wolf on the fold. Washed down with the local beer, Matutu Kiva pale ale, it was delicious.

The only wrinkle in the bus transportation system is that after 4:30pm, the anti-clockwise bus stops running. The night service, until 11:00pm, only goes clockwise. We therefore waited, and boarded the bus, and had to go all the way around the island, stopping at various resorts, until we got back to our bach. Then we crashed out.

The next day dawned at dawn. We’re facing straight out to sea, so there’s nothing stopping the sunlight streaming into the bedroom. Note to self: must get up and photograph the dawn tomorrow. As it was Sunday, not much was open. They take their religious observance seriously in the islands. We walked down the road more in hope than expectation to the café for some breakfast, and it was indeed shut. No matter, we walked on a bit further to Super Brown’s, which claims to be open 24 hours, and bought eggs, butter, and bread, to make our own scrambled eggs on toast back at the bach. After that, we decided to take the bus into town to see what was there. We were able to see most of the scenery that we’d missed on the bus the previous evening. A lot of the good folk were on their way to church, dressed in Sunday best dresses, with hats. On scooters. Scooters are one of the main forms of transport on the island, and if that’s how you travel, that’s how you get to church. Some of the ladies were perforce steering one-handed whilst the other hand ensured that their hats didn’t fly off.

Our modest beachside shack
We arrived in town to find almost everything shut. We found a souvenir shop open and bought some postcards, then went along to Coelho’s café for lunch. We walked up the road a bit, through what could be termed the Government Quarter, but there’s not much to see when it’s all closed. We headed back to centre ville to catch the bus back home.

As I said, our bach is facing the ocean. It’s got a small lawn, then a short path through the rocky coral to a bit of sandy beach, then the lagoon. In the distance, waves crash over the reef, leaving a shallow, calm area for swimming which goes all around the island. Our bit of beach is actually a bit rocky, but there are better beaches around the island, so we’ll try to sample those at a later date. In the meantime, we’re getting busy booking those excursions to explore the island and surrounding sea!

On our lawn we spotted movement. “That shell’s moving” said Nicola. Sure enough, the shell was inhabited by a very nervous hermit crab that I christened “Hermy”, who had crawled all the way up from the lagoon. He disappeared inside his shell as soon as he felt vibrations from our footsteps, but after a short while emerged again to do whatever it is that hermit crabs do when they’re on the lawn. Casting around further, we spotted two smaller crabs also perambulating the grass, as if they owned the place. 

We’ve also spotted several lizards, some of the gecko variety, which is good as they eat the mosquitoes. So far, the bird life consists of the ubiquitous hippity-hoppity birds (mynahs) that are endemic to Northland in New Zealand; and chickens…there are chickens everywhere. I’m hoping to see something a little more exotic when we take out tour into the interior.

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