First Island Update

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We are alive and well. I will give a brief description of what we had been doing and write more later when I have more time and internet capability. This is the first chance I have had to use the internet at all. It is available but not cheap. It is all done by satellite here.

We departed Sydney Saturday night and arrived in Rarotonga, Cook Islands early Saturday morning (after crossing the Int’l Date Line). We are about 3000 miles due south of Hawai’i and 3100 miles due east of Sydney. We had three hours at a hotel across the road from the small airport for a swim and breakfast. We then boarded a 34-seater plane, that was at least half empty, heading for Aitutaki, a small island north of Rarotonga, often regarded as one of the most beautiful islands and lagoons in the world. The flight took about 40 minutes and it was beautiful to see the island from the air. We were met with plumeria leis by the caretaker of our rental house. We stayed at a house on the beach in a very quiet area of Aitutaki. It was hot and sweltering. I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life. Forget anything but sunscreen, insect repellant, a sundress, an elastic for your hair and a sun hat.

We spent three nights in Aitutaki. The island has about 2000 residents and it felt like we had it to ourselves. There seemed to be no other tourists around, definitely no mass tourism here. We had no air conditioning in the house or car. It wasn’t so bad after the first day. It cooled down at night enough to be comfortable sleeping. The only place we found air con was in the rental car pick-up car. The highlight of our visit to Aitutaki was a lagoon cruise. The four of us went on a cruise in a little boat with Black Pearl Cruises. It was so beautiful out in the lagoon. The best part of the cruise for me was snorkeling around the coral and watching all of the tropical fish. A Giant Trevally was following us around and the operator got a little worried about it since a fish bit a lady last week. We tried snorkeling in a couple of other places as well as visiting some of the motus (islands) in the lagoon.

Our second night in Aitutaki Alex was attacked by mozzies. He was sleeping in the car (no car seats in these parts) in the front seat and we popped out to the beach for about five minutes to see the sunset and we came back and the car was full of mozzies and he was covered. He had about 50 bites. Poor little guy. The locals told us to buy Dettol and local Coconut oil and mix 50/50 for relief and protection.

We departed Aitutaki back to Rarotonga on Tuesday morning where we are now. This time it was a tiny plane that carried only 15 passengers and it was full. People commended us on how well behaved the kids were on the flight. They have been saving it for home. Alex has been a handful!!

It is hot and humid here but not as bad as it was in Aitutaki. This island is a bit bigger with a 23-mile loop around the island. The interior is only walkable as it has jungle-covered high mountains. We tried the local speciality, Ika Mata last night. It is raw fish (usually tuna) with lemon and lime juice and coconut cream.

Coconuts are everywhere in these islands. EVERYWHERE. Islanders use all parts of the coconut. We were greeted with a fresh coconut with a straw when we arrived at our house in Aitutaki. Mmmm, fresh coconut water.

Tomorrow we are off to Pape’ete, Tahiti for one night in a dodgy airport hotel. The following morning we will ferry over to Mo’orea for five nights.

Sofia is excited today since it is her half-birthday today. She had a bit of a low point asking to go home already. We fixed that by getting her pancakes and chocolate. Later that day she was ever so happy to do the lagoon cruise. She loved watching hermit crabs on the beach, picking up coral and shells on the little islands and naming an island Queen Sofia Island.

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