Friday, June 3, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 21

Day 21: (3 June 2011 (-1 in time zone)):
- Get up & leave ~8:30am. Sun already quite high. People get up early in Cooks: sun rise early & set early.
- Walk up eastern road & book island night @ Tamanu Beach Hotel.
- Abandoned buildings along road. (Hurricane?) Views of lush cliffs & hills. Pig pens & chickens.
- Walk up to airport. Lots of hotels & resorts on the way. Bump into American couple. They jog? Tell me about going up mountain. Past old runway (?), now cut by fence & road. Past marine research centre. Didn't see much (other than large antennas) from the road, just a few sheds in distance, but should have gone: giant clams & baby turtles. Try taste of noni.
- Down road by runway. Very long & straight. No shade. See tourist person on scooter, can't start it (before the long section).
- Past café, see Akitua across a narrow channel. Tempted to swim over, but found a free ferry. Ferry has timetable, but does not seem to matter.
- Can't use beach, must pay $50 day use fee if stay. Includes use of kayaks, etc.
- Decide just take walk around. See very nicely maintained beaches, etc. Hammocks under coconut trees (what about falling coconuts, maybe remove?). Over-water bungalows. Couples.
- See islands in distance, farther than expected. Perhaps can snorkel across. Reception say "maybe" boat guy say can walk along reef, but has stonefish. Also: high tide so can get sucked out. Cheapest room low season: ~$450.
- See plane land before get on boat.
- Boat guy conversation. Slower boat (to talk?), sit a min or two to finish convo before I leave. Say things expensive here, some people complain. Tell me bar by beach to left, can walk by beach, but wasps will sting & lumps like "kumaras." Talk about girls dancing (?). Men here are strangely quiet and say strange things.
- Walk to Samade. Have juice. Nice beach bar, but beach a bit small. (High tide).
- Before leave, arrive a group of middle-age from Nelson. Excited. Came via Raro.
- Hitchhike back to start of boring road. Old man with Boat House Restaurant shirt not talkative.
- Walk down to start of trail. See American couple again, on bicycles to go to Boat Shed. Girl had craving for pasta. Chat about area.
- Up Maungapu. View OK, lots of trees in way. Israeli tourist Dad, mom (elder) & son? Walk along hill for better view, then up a steep hill. Very hot & sunny. Can just about see entire lagoon. Nice colours & reflection of clouds.
- Walk to 2nd hill, son offer me ride as they go there. Just as we start, parents scooter topple over. Their gas is stuck. Give bandages. Son push scooter & parents ride. Go back.
- I walk & try noni. Not as terrible as expected. Long, hot, sunny. Alone. Running out of water. Bag break, fix. Feel very alone (as in no one else around). Good idea to try noni just before?
- Nice view of lagoon. Loss obstruction. Road / trail just mowed grass & later dirt. Very relieved to see houses and signs of people again.
- Walk back through middle of island. Like 3rd world country. Fields, pigs, chickens.
- Villages in lush settings. Cars still pretty modern. Kids walking with backpacks (from school?) on long road & hill. Barefoot on sharp coral rocks road (one eating some fruit), even uncomfortable for me in old jandals (although mine are nearly worn through).
- Road look like driveway, connect to eastern road between two houses. Hearty "hi" from some people sitting on back house porch. Crave fruit pop, buy bottle.
- See beach: muddy, sea cucumbers, small fish. Write & nap, eat noni, wait for Island Night.
- Watch sunset over ocean. "Greatest show on Earth" is my opinion. Sounds of rugby & distant rumbling of waves. Mosquitos & tiny sand flies? Other guy left on afternoon today. From Poland? Holland?
- Discover broken pixel on camera. (more like a 2x2 or 3x3 patch). Why are there multiple things that grate on me on this trip? Maybe exercise in attachment. (Note: at end of trip feel intensely at peace, things no longer really bother me).
- Long walk in dark to island night @ Tamanu.
- Big buffet feast (umukai). Host (part owner & founder) very gracious to guests. Thank them. Many foods: island cabbage? Sweet crumbled bread thing, poi (purple jelly), salty bubbly seaweed, lamb curry, roast pork, ice cream, purple kumara, etc.Table with old Japanese tourist, say here 20 yrs ago, take pic of bar maid when small. Been to many islands with family. Jap. story in NC? Two NZ doctors in final rotation / training here share table as well.
- Sit outside for show. Fire dance. Percussion music with traditional instruments, like the "changing dancers" music. Many outfits. Showed a "Maori haka" from NZ/Aotearoa. Song in English with lyrics including "Greetings & farewell from Aitutaki."
- Walk under stars back. Car stop, ask if I OK, give ride back. Short chat, ask if annoyed with so many tourists, she say "sometimes." Chat is not as good, as usual. People nice but not warm. Didn't quite understand, when ask about no dogs. People from Raro bring dogs, then have to kill them?

Photos available at: http://mandarinmanmarktravelbriefs.blogspot.com/