Culture Shocky Goodness

Hello from the road!


Has it only been 13 days since we left The Rock? Ay carumba! What a kaleidoscope of stimuli we have encountered in just under two weeks.


There were a few sad farewells…


Final dinner at Puffy’s with Scotty & Keio



Jim and Jo-Ann come for one one last hug



Buh-bye Aitutaki! (Thanks for the flowers Jo!)




But we feel sure we will see our friends someday, somewhere, once again.


Our departure date was October 1st but that only took us as far as Rarotonga, where we were generously welcomed by our friends Kelly and Brendan of the Aremango Guesthouse. We spent three days with them and most of our time was spent doing a whole lot of nothing. How amazing it felt to know that we could flop down at two in the afternoon, for a nap, and not have to worry about a single thing. Is there enough toilet paper in the washroom? Is someone going to knock on the door wanting to book a tour? Are all the guests happy?




We also, in those three days, learned what we’d been missing for the two years we’d spent on Aitutaki. All Prez and I had ever seen of Raro was a passing glimpse, on our way to somewhere else, and we weren’t impressed. But it turns out that Raro is actually pretty cool. There are lots of shops and restaurants, nightlife, cultural and sporting events. The Saturday market, with its many stalls full of fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, cooked meals and more, was enough to make us want to cry. Had all of this really been so close and we didn’t know it?!


Our brief time in the “big city” gave us time to catch up with Miss Mo and to meet some of Kelly and Brendan’s friends. Very cool and the perfect reintroduction to civilization.


Before long, though, we were climbing the stairs to our Air New Zealand flight to Los Angeles. I’d like to say that the long flight was spent contemplating my time in the Cook Islands and bidding a silent farewell but, since the flight took off at midnight and I’d already swallowed one of two “chill pills” at 11:30pm, the bulk of the nine hour journey was passed in a state of near unconsciousness.


Descending into LA was the beginning of our real culture shock. Highrises, traffic and smog greeted us we touched down. At the rental car counter, I asked politely if an upgrade might be possible and the nice lady bumped us up without hesitation…thank you flagging economy! A short drive east and we were soon back on familiar ground – Twentynine Palms and the home of Miz Liz and her bad dogs. Some of you may remember that Liz lost the elder of her two bad dogs, Chase, over the summer, but she has wasted no time in finding a new canine pal, Sheila, a border collie who is currently taking the “bad” title to new highs, (or lows perhaps?).


Words will fail me if I try to describe how it felt to see the face of our dear friend after almost three years apart or how grateful we were to settle in, once more, to her delightful guest house with its big, cozy bed, shower that has plenty of hot and cold water all the time, soft, squishy carpet that feels good beneath toes, and not an ant in sight. Imagine coming inside after wandering through a blizzard and putting on your favourite cuddly clothes and snuggling with your favourite person in front of a blazing fire and that will give you at least an inkling of how happy and relaxed we were.


About five minutes after saying hello, Prez was off to the grocery store. He returned much later with armloads of food and a smile I suspected might be permanent. He confessed to having a giggling fit in the middle of the store and – thanks to my visit home last October – I knew just how he felt. There is sooooooo much stuff here. I mean, really, you don’t realize how much stuff we have in North America. And it’s so cheap! Even after a week, I still can’t believe it whenever I buy something and the clerk reads me out the total. ‘Did she forget to charge me for half the stuff?’ I wonder. But no, that is the price. Prez and I both cringed when it came time to fill the rental car with gas, only to find ourselves laughing at the mere $37 total. Were they kidding us? That wouldn’t even get us a quarter of a tank on Aitutaki!


Our week here has been magical. When we aren’t hiking through Joshua Tree National Park – oooing and aaahhhing at the rock formations – we are sharing cocktails and laughs with our gracious host. And the party got even better when fellow ex-Posadians Mom II and HQ showed up in their fifth wheel. Then, last night, we all drove out to Rancho Mirage for a gourmet feast cooked up by another Baja pal, Vicky K. More laughs, more memories…more food.


Miz Liz & Mom II join us for a hike…


Twentynine Palms rocks!


Because I’m feeling so overwhelmed, I’m going to save some of my more detailed observations on our return to civilization for later, when evening cocktails and games of Rummicube aren’t beckoning. However, I will say that it is GREAT to be back in the world again. We may have to pay a visit to aunties Jenny and Betty, (Craig and Ford respectively), when we’re finished but it will all be so very, very worth it.


QUESTION: Have you ever noticed how much stuff there is here?


Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess



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