again from the land of the Big Blue!
hardships I must endure to keep my life interesting so that all you Nutters
won’t get bored and trundle off to another blog, I’m telling you. Torture,
absolute torture. Oh, hold on just a minute, I have to wipe the mango juice off
my chin and move a little closer to the palm tree for some shade. There, that’s
let’s get serious now. I wish it were all mangoes and palm trees but it’s not.
It never is. That’s the difference between visiting paradise and working in it.
It’s been one week since we left, hard to believe considering all that we’ve
experienced. Shall we start with the good stuff? Very well.
is amazing. I could pull out my thesaurus and bombard you with a hundred other
adjectives but I think “amazing” sums it up nicely. The spot we live is right
on a white, sandy beach, and not ten feet out from said beach is some of the
best snorkeling I’ve ever had. The water – oh, the water – is 47 shades
of blue and the perfect temperature for swimming. The island is ringed by a
coral reef, which means the water inside the reef, (the lagoon), is calm ninety
percent of the time. Imagine the lagoon is a high class nightclub and the coral
reef is the bouncer at the door. Outside the reef there’s all kinds of
commotion, lots of riff raff and troublemakers, big waves trying to stir things
up – the reef keeps all that out and everything is always peaceful. Aaaaahhhhhhh.
Costa Rica can compete with the fruit and veggies here. I usually avoid paw
paw (papaya) because it’s so musky tasting but the ones here are sweet,
almost like mangoes. And mango season is upon us; the trees are chocker-block
full of my little must-floss-afterwards friends. Two doors over from us is
Tauno’s place. He’s an old islander, (I’m guessing, in his sixties), who runs
an organic garden and café with his Austrian wife. Shopping there is less of a
chore, more of an experience. Old Tauno will guide you through his little
hodge-podge of herbs, fruits, and veggies, telling stories as he goes and
letting you pick your own stuff. The air is thick with smell of basil,
coriander, and rosemary. I bought two avocados yesterday that are roughly the
size of small footballs.
Tuesday Mr.Boss took five of us out on his outrigger canoe thingy for a lagoon
cruise. First we went outside the reef where we snorkeled with eagle rays in a
deep channel. Prez surprised five 50lb jacks; what a sight to see those massive
silver bodies charging through the crystal clear water! Next we went to the
reserve to visit the clams. Not just any clams, mind you; Giant Clams. At three
feet across minimum, these goliaths with their psychedelic, multi-coloured lips
were everywhere. Of course, Prez had to dive under and carefully tickle their
mouths to make them close. (Kids, do NOT try this at home). We snorkeled a few
more breathtaking coral heads then putted over to the Maina motu for
lunch. (A motu is like a tiny island and there are several around the
lagoon). Mr.Boss gave us a quick lesson on coconuts – which ones are for
drinking, which are for eating, how to open them, how to cut the meat, etc.
nibbled on fresh coconut meat as we waited for our flying fish to cook. Our
beach party consisted of Prez & me, Mr. Boss, as well as three resort
guests: Adrian the Kiwi, and Andrea & Paul who are Vancouverites. Lunch was
a lovely introduction to some of the local fare. Taro root and sweet potatoes
are staples of the Cook Islands – I enjoyed the latter but found the taro kind
of chewy and bland. Ota was also on the menu, it’s a blend of banana,
coconut, and arrowroot, which comes in a sort of long, skinny tube, wrapped in
a banana leaf, (at least I think it’s a banana leaf). I tried the Ota
plain and fried – plain was OK, friend was very tasty. My favorite of all the
dishes was Riku – boiled taro leaf. Taro leaf can only be eaten boiled, well
boiled, otherwise it would be like eating glass. It doesn’t look so appealing,
sitting on your plate in a mushy green lump, but boy was it good!
lots more good stuff to talk about but I’ll wrap up with our Island Night at
Puffy’s restaurant and bar. Island Nights are the thing to do here. Generally
you pay a set fee for a Polynesian style buffet dinner and a show, (at Puffy’s
you can watch the show as long as you buy a drink). If you’ve ever been to a
Hawaiian luau, an Island Night is similar…but not really. There’s dancing, and
drums, and singing, but on Aitutaki it’s not a slick, professional affair
designed for tourists. The performers are all family, and you can tell by the
laughter and smiles that they really love what they’re doing. The dancing will
make your thighs and abs hurt just watching. The girls wear coconut bras and
cloth skirts with a ring of leaves at their waist – I have no idea how they get
those leaves to move so vigorously! However, I think the drumming and singing
steal the show. The singing is a mix between drunken brawl and church choir,
and it flips on a little switch deep inside your gut you probably don’t even know
you have. I dare anyone to walk away from an Island Night without a smile.
for the bad stuff…sorry, maybe I should have gotten this over with first?
resort, which I’ll call “Perfect Beach”, is a bit…what’s the word? Ramshackle,
I think that sums it up. I mean, tons of guests love it; it is very Robinson
Crusoe. But there is work to be done, changes that need to be made, maintenance
long overdue. I wasn’t surprised by this, in fact I was expecting as much.
There are three huts here and one unit that is attached to our house. The huts
have little kitchenettes and outdoor showers. Unfortunately, because of the way
the septic field is laid out, the huts all share one toilet. Until yesterday,
the toilet room was not screened and this made the mozzies (mosquitoes) very
happy, and our guest’s exposed behinds very unhappy.
there are mozzies here. Prez doesn’t seem to notice them but I’m one of those
types that itch for weeks after being bitten. I can’t go out of the house
without a good dose of deet. Between the bug goop, waterproof sunscreen, and
sweat, I’m a sticky mess. Hopefully my body will adapt and I won’t feel like a
piece of human fly paper anymore.
employer, Mr.Boss, is very nice and he is practically bending over backwards to
accommodate us. Unlike our Bahamas experience, we should have a fair amount of
autonomy here and be able to make most of the changes the guests seem to want.
Mostly it’s little things like better air flow to the huts and chairs on the
beach. So that’s all good. What’s not so good is that we’re living with Mr.Boss
until mid-December and, nice as he may be, living with a stranger, especially
your employer, in a very non-soundproof house, is awkward. Let’s just say there
won’t be much “Romance” until he leaves. Also, Mr.Boss has been solo on the
property for almost a year, (his wife and son have moved to Rarotonga and he
will join them there), so the house has been a little “neglected”. I admit, my
standards of cleanliness and organization are higher than, oh, ninety-eight
percent of the population but you shouldn’t have to pull lizards out of the
shower that have been dead for a week…am I crazy? After one week, I have our
bedroom and most of the kitchen at point where I can look at them without
shuddering. Tomorrow I will tackle the bathroom (shudder) and begin sorting out
high speed internet yet. Sigh. The Princess specifically demanded high speed
internet prior to arrival! (I’m stomping my feet and crossing my arms across my
chest right now). How can anyone run a business on 46 kbps??!??
crazy expensive here. I mean, I expected high prices, all remote islands have
to have everything shipped in and that’s costly, but this is ridiculous. A
medium-sized cooler is almost $200, a sheet of plywood is $108, a bottle of my
beloved gin $46, a plain old bucket is almost $20. Apparently this wasn’t
always so. But when “Survivor” came here to film, and bought or rented most of
the island, the locals saw a cash cow and jacked up all the prices sky high…and
they’ve never come down. Needless to say, we are very conservative with our
food. Not that there’s a huge selection in the grocery store here anyway,
(again, no surprise). But there is soy milk!
writing group, no book store, no library, no surprise. But sad.
there are the roosters. Crowing outside our window at 3am, boinking the poor hens in broad daylight, bastards! Must kill roosters. Must kill roosters. Must kill
roosters. Must kill…
time to turn my frown upside down. It’s Sunday. Nobody works on Sunday here. So
I have the day to write and read and swim and snorkel and sleep and eat and
dream of ADSL internet and pet the kitties and watch those fluffy white clouds
drift by in the breeze. Life is not so bad.
Have you ever wished you could smile and frown at the same time?
Emily! I hope you’re being good for Grampa…but I doubt it.
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!