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July 23, 2001
Reflections on Rarotonga (Gail)

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Gail, admiring yet another sunset on the beach

Today I realized just how quickly this island has touched my heart.  Not only is it beautiful with friendly people and a great climate, it is unspoiled.  Rarotonga is so unlike Hawaii with its high-rise hotels and massive crowds.  I have not seen a building taller than two stories and there are no chain hotels anywhere to be seen.  The only attempt at a chain was a Best Western, which was started but never completed, due to the locals deciding they did not want it.  It is a nearly complete ghost hotel now with horses grazing on the grounds.  Just as well.  It may one day disappear back to the natural surroundings covered with coconut palms and vines.

We have tried to give the boys a lot of free play time. With that they have discovered 'sensitive' plants that close up when touched.  Joss now touches every plant just to check.  Cam has discovered that if you hold on to a brown coconut you can float.  Green ones don't work, they sink.  They both have a better understanding of tides and coral reefs.

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Playing on the beach
Doing homework
A rainy afternoon: Game Boys and Lego

This an idyllic place, however, there is one draw back.  The bugs here grow to nuclear blasted size.  Okay, not all of them, but the flying roaches have been about three inches long.  We have found three so far.  Inside.  As for the spiders, well, those who know me, will be amazed they did not hear me scream in the U.S.  Cameron came out of the bathroom with a stricken look on his face saying big spider, big, big spider. It's right over the door, it's as big as my hand (opened, fingers splayed).  Russell, the doubter (and hero), grabbed a glass and paper to catch the poor thing.  Based on Cam's face I drew my legs up under me and breathed deeply.

Russell came out with the same face and said, “Cam is not lying.  This is the biggest spider I have ever seen.  It's not going to fit in the glass.”  My toes curled under my feet.  He then went in with the bug spray and came out a few sprays later with a not-yet-dead spider filling the entire tumbler.  I shrank into the chair I was in and he took it outside, later regretting not taking a picture of it.  I found out there are no insects here that can kill you, unless of course you count death from fear.

One of the things I really wanted to do here was to go to church.  It was interesting hearing the Gospel in Maori.  All through the service it seemed people just burst into song in what sounded like five-part harmony.  The male voices were incredible.  There was so much joy and enthusiasm in the whole service and the welcome was warm.  Afterwards we went over to the Sunday school hall and shared in the refreshments offered.  We met one of the leaders of our district (village).  He explained a bit about the local history and about the Council of Churches meeting they were hosting in a few days.  Later that evening we saw a woman headed to choir practice on her scooter balancing a large platter of food on her left shoulder and hand.  I have a hard time starting my scooter and am in awe of her.

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Cook Island Christian Church (founded 1842)

Speaking of starting my scooter, I got some expert help after church from Annie, she's about 8 years old and had no trouble at all.  Oh well.

Right now Rarotonga lies directly under the Milky Way and there is no moon, which makes nighttime star gazing the best I have ever seen.  The stars fill the sky and dip down to the ocean.  I am sorry, but there just isn't anyway to get a picture of it.

A few Raro tidbits:

It will be very hard to leave here.  Even with the giant (uh monster) spider, this has been an incredible place to start out our trip.  I have become spoiled hearing the waves all day and night, having sun, warm rains, and warm people every day.

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A perfect sunset

One surprising and satisfying thing is that Joss now says he can't wait to see what is in New Zealand!

Me too.


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