Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Rarotonga Sojourn

I had wondered how Rarotonga would be for me, even before I left home. After all, its predominant motif is the beach, and most people go there for beach-related activities, like snorkelling, swimming, lazing about in the sun. And I don't really do any of those things: my major concern with swimming being the likelihood that the requisite disrobing would effect an immediate depopulation of the island, a fresh migration. Its not like the country has a whole lot of people to spare: its total populace could fit into a town like Kaikohe. That was my other concern - the fact that the place was just too small to hold much attraction for me.

And so it came to pass that about two days into my week there, I'd pretty much done all there was to be done. I'd taken the public bus around the island, twice. I'd visited the National Museum, a big building, sure, but the actual exhibition occupied a space not much larger than my office. Its total contents comprised a few digital photos of the islands, a tiny vaka, a few carved wooden heads and maybe some handcrafts. The National Library, right next door, seemed to be made up of a collection of pamphlets: going in was pointless. The bookshop was not quite as bounteous as its name suggested: a couple of tables of the sort you'd see carrying the remainders in a normal bookshop, one of which was laden with Harry Potters of various stages in his development.

I'd walked up and down the streets of Avarua, trying all of the coffee shops and, reluctantly, conceded that my very peremptory hostel manager was right in pointing out that The Cafe was the best. It in fact formed the basis of my daily routine: in which I'd take a quick trip in to town, have a lemon & sour cream cake (oooh - the day I was there just after it had left the oven: priceless) with my coffee, check emails, walk the streets and then go home.

But then, I'd never really figured on doing very much on the island anyway: I'd taken a swag of music, I had my books; I was there to relax. Once I stopped looking for things to do, I did. I got myself one of those fancy Cook Island drivers licences (heh: I was asked to pay $10, even though there was a big sign saying I'd need to pass a practical test. When I asked why I didn't need to, the cop just said "You do, but we dont have anyone to test you. Meh."). Now I've got my research assistant looking into whether I can ride on it in New Zealand,or use it to get a NZ licence. Not that that's necessarily a great idea: within a mere three hours of getting the motorbike, I'd fallen off and am still paying the price in terms of stiff joints.

The falling off was caused by the rain, the rain that was at first quite innocuous, a midday half hour shower, but which by the end of the week had become continuous. I swear that it rained for 72 hours with no more than a 5 minute break for smoko. I know that I'd hear a pause, but before I could get my shoes on, the rain would have started all over again, with renewed force. Luckily, I was around on Muri Beach by this time, so there was beer in the shop next door and several quite flash restaurants the other way.

One bears particular mention: the Pacific Resort. Doesn't the sound of tuna marinated in pineapple and lime juice, gently panfried and drizzled with jus sound good? Particularly when its on a bed of kumera mash and steamed veges to the side? Unfortunately, the kumera mash turned out to be four pieces of half roasted kumera. The steamed veges were a sodden mass of slime. So once I'd finished my Mai Tai (that, I have to give them, was fabulous), rather than going to the bar to pay my dues, I wandered off up the beach, figuring, hey its my last night on the island, I'm about to catch the bus to the airport and its not like I have any plans to come back.

Unfortunately, Muri Beach is a small place. The bus to the airport was a bit late and while I was waiting, I was spotted. I suppose I could have moaned at that point about how bad the food was but, well, I'd lost a little credibility.


Blogger Jo Hubris said...

My friend's wedding was at the Pacific Resort. I ate the tuna in a marquee on the beach and I thought it was amazing. But maybe it was different the day you had it.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Haha, doing a runner - how very Dunedin :)

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Tomatohead/Tricia said...

Poor fellow. So so food and got caught doing a runner. There wasn't much to do in Raro in '93 either, but that was its charm. I was caught reading a Crichton book and seeing the American version of the Vanishing.

I still have about half the case of vegemite (expiration date '94) I bought at the cash and carry in Avarua.

12:59 PM  
Blogger piksea said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for all of your insights into Ulysses. Four times and a graduate course? Yikes! If you have any additional thoughts, I'd really be interested in hearing them.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

I laughed out loud at your runner. Naughty. And exciting. Was it exciting enough for an adrenalin rush?

6:55 PM  
Blogger harvestbird said...

The ol' dine and dash, eh? A friend and I were foiled doing the same thing at the art gallery bar recently, but, in our defence, we were a bit trollied and didn't realise (honest!) we hadn't paid.

2:27 PM  

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