My island in the sun

I went to Rarotonga and all I got were these lousy photos…

No, but seriously, after the Saturday that never happened, my actual Saturday started with the sound of the ocean, and Anji sitting on my bed and whispering to me that they were going to go to the markets and did I want to come? Of course I did, so I got up and got dressed and drank Aitu coffee and someone made me toast, and we set off in our loaner-beamer for the markets. There we ate waffles, talked to some little girls about waffles, ate meat on sticks and Anji and Karen had roast pork sandwiches dripping with gravy and crackling. Oh and we looked at handicrafts and bought coconut cream, of course. Then I spent a lot of time sitting on our lawn in the sun, which looked like this:

That’s Muri Beach you can see right there, as we were staying in a delightful two-bedroom house called Villa Harvey. Anji and Daddy went off for a scuba dive, so Karen, Mum and I wandered up the beach to the Pacific Resort, which you might remember as the place that Penny got married. After lunch we snuck into their pool, but it was pretty damn cold so we headed home instead, stopping in the lagoon for a much warmer splash.

That night we went over to The Rarotongan to watch the Island Night show and eat their umukai feast. All the tables with kids got to serve themselves first, and we were huuuuuuuuuungry, our enormous bowl of a cocktail not sustaining as sustaining as we’d hoped it would be. There was so much oiled-up young man-flesh on display in the dancing, it made me feel very old and seedy. And while of course I hid my face when they sought out people to dance with, I was very very disappointed by the piss-poor efforts of the tourists. I can dance much better than that, I was born with Cook Island drums flowing in my veins after all. But my Cook Island blood functions best when it hasn’t tried all the different desserts on the buffet.

So that was my Saturday do-over. On Sunday, we took it easy, which is of course very hard to do when you have this view on your doorstep:

We strolled down to the Muri Beach Sailing Club for brunch (Island Fries made with banana, taro, breadfruit and kumara are the greatest thing in the world), and splashed around in the sea. I finished I’m with the band and started in on a shelf of trashy books in the lounge. We also quizzed each other from my Q Ultimate Quiz Book that’d handily come with the magazine I bought at the airport, and made up cocktails in the blender that the house handily provided. For dinner we went up to a restaurant at the Black Rock Villas that was only open on Saturdays and Sundays. I was initially very skeptical, so I ordered a steak. Turns out that the Austrian couple who ran the place were rather on-to-it. All the tables were outside, so we had a great view of the sunset:

On Monday we did some splashing around in the lagoon in the morning:

Then we went for a drive around Rarotonga’s inland roads which were not too great for driving on in a low-to-the ground car crammed with five people:

Then we went into Avarua to do a little shopping, starting out with lunch at Cafe Salsa that took AN HOUR AND A HALF to arrive. I could tell that the waitress was from New Zealand by how disgusted she was with the time that the kitchen was taking. Here’s us killing time:

Damn tasty food though. We loaded up on coconut oil from the main department store, and headed to Araoa in front of The Rarotongan, as it’s a marine reserve. I was a little hesitant about snorkelling again after I’d had such a bad panic attack over coral in Fiji, but this was all big lumps of rock with plenty of clear space in between to stand up in if your mask leaks as much as mine did. And oh my god, SO MANY FISH! It was very very grand. I saw many parrot-fish which I pointed at and rubbed my belly to Karen and Anji. And what I thought were angel fish, and Picasso fish, and playful rainbow wrasses, and coronet fish, and and and and so many, just all happy for you to hang out with them. Go the marine reserve!

After that it was getting cold so we went to Club Raro for happy hour in their swim-up bar. I thought the pool was a lot deeper than it actually was, and smacked up my leg pretty bad jumping in. Plus, it was freeeeeeezing and the drinks took forever to make, but at least we have documented proof (on Mum’s camera) of our swim-up bar-ness. So it was home for hot showers and getting ready for dinner at the lovely Tamarind, which is in an old colonial house. Anji and I went off for a wander when Mum and Karen and Daddy got into a fight about taxes, and I took this photo on their beautiful deck that I can totally picture myself getting married on:
And the food, oh the food is so good:

Sesame-crusted tuna with paw-paw salsa and coconut rice.

Anji went home that night, and I got sick, throat all swollen up, coughing all coughy, and sleeping terribly. Needless to say the next day I was not in the mood to do anything at all, and I felt good when I managed to pack my family off to snorkel and I could sit and read by myself. Oh wait, there was checking of internets from a cafe up the road that was trying to mimic a NZ cafe right down to the d’n’b on the stereo but the coffee and muffins were pretty bad. Coconut milkshakes, however, were awesome. That night we went to Trader Jack’s for dinner, on a dock overlooking Avarua Harbour:
Yes, that’s right, all I did on my holiday was sleep and read and eat and drink. And that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

The next night we went to the Yellow Hibiscus for dinner. Don’t ever go there. It took over an hour to get our dinners because the deep fryer was broken and they didn’t think to see if Mum would prefer rice to fries with her fish. They did give me a free cocktail though, but the food was decidedly average, except for my big plate of creamy pasta with mushrooms and artichokes.

On our last day, we went snorkelling again and I saw two octopuses holding hands on a rock. Awwww. And we went on a cocktail tour to the Edgewater but didn’t drink Tangaroas this time, and then we went to the Mainuia Beach Resort for dinner but decided that we didn’t like the menu, so we ended up at Windjammer and I’m so glad we did. It was truly exceptional. The room looked like a lockwood house, admittedly, but the service was perfectly polished and the right kind of friendly (they laughed when I said “YOU’VE RUINED CHRISTMAS!” when the waiter tipped my dessert so that the ice cream slipped off my hot chocolate pudding), the menu was lovely, and look at the tuna I had for dinner:


Then it was home for more cocktails and games:

and then at 4.30am we got up to spend twelve hours in transit to get back to freezing cold Wellington and Sebastian with an abcess. JOY! I think i will move to Rarotonga and start a guesthouse. Wanna come stay?

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