Chapter 3: "I was caught in the rain..."

Trip Start Oct 01, 2003
Trip End Nov 2004

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Flag of Cook Islands  ,
Sunday, October 12, 2003

Kia Orana! Greetings from Muri Beach on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands! I can't tell you how happy I am to be back to using a standard keyboard again! When I last left off (Thursday), I was wrapping things up on Mo'orea; the ferry ride back to Papeete, Tahiti was painless and I spent a few hours wandering around the city. It's a bustling South Seas port town during the week... a very odd mix of depressing and nondescript concrete buildings, palm trees, ritzy boutiques (Rolex!), and excellent restaurants (must be the French influence). Lugging the pack around in the crowded heat was no fun, so I hopped on the #3 bus bound for the West coast and the town of Paea. I'm impressing myself with my use of public transportation thus far, considering that after 11 years I still couldn't take the bus across Providence without getting hopelessly lost!

Pension Te Miti was my final bed in French Polynesia, and it was a charming little place set back a few hundred meters from the main (only?) coastal road. I shared a 5-bed dorm with a strange little 40 to 50-year-old man named Patrice (sp?) who was staying there indefinitely because of some marital issues. I think. The only English he knew was "good?" (with a "thumbs up" sign), so that's an educated guess on my part. As far as I could tell he spent every day watching TV, smoking, and drinking Hinano beer (the local brew, which isn't completely awful).

Anyway, the pension was comfortable enough, but unfortunately there's not a whole lot to do on the west coast of Tahiti... especially when it rains, which it did all day Friday. I mean, it REALLY rained, in that tropical way. They'd been having a drought lately, so everyone was thrilled except for me, because that meant my 5-km walk to the "Musee de Tahiti et des Illes" was super-unpleasant. To make things worse, the coastal road is constantly jammed with cars, even though I have no idea where they're all going -especially the ones heading away from Papeete! On a side note, I'd forgotten that Renaults and Peugeots existed until hundreds of them were lined up bumper to bumper and splashing me with mud. Funny little cars, whatever.

The museum was cute and modern and had some nice displays, but having grown up in Williamsburg, my expectations of historical exhibits run high so I wasn't overly impressed. For example, one display case had many interesting letters from Christian missionaries in the early 1800's, and then suddenly in the next case the French were already in power and it was almost 1900! What happened there, exactly? I wanted details on human sacrifices and the rebel battles on the boony islands, but I guess like the US with the Native Americans there's a certain tendency for every country to gloss over the less glamorous parts of its past.

The rain let up for a little while on Saturday, so I hung out on the beach near the pension, and read a lot of my current book: "Two Boys At Swim," an engrossing account of two friends in 1915 Ireland. I also listened to Revis on repeat several times, making "Caught in the Rain" the unlikely most-listened-to song on my trip so far. God I'm lame. Thank goodness (and 'BRU) for the i-pod, though! Backpacking snobs may sneer, but I'm not sure how I'd get by without it!

Spent most of last night at Faa'a airport (dig all those triple-vowelled Polynesian names!), so I'm a bit of a zombie after sleeping only two hours. Excuse the rambling. Arrived on Rarotonga this morning, and was driven to Vara's Beach House by Vara herself. This will be my first real "hostel-ly" experience, as the "House" is actually many dorms clustered together on the beach holding around 150 backpackers, most of whom seem younger than me. Friendly, though. Couldn't sleep when I arrived, so I set about trying to find an ATM machine. Of course the closest one was a 5 mile hike up the road, so I'm now waaay too familiar with the southern coastal road of Rarotonga. At least with all the walking I probably don't need to worry about keeping in shape!

OK, for a relatively uneventful few days I've gone on long enough. Not sure how to spend the next few days... the beach & lagoon are beautiful here so if the weather is nice I may hang around and just relax. Otherwise I might splurge and fly to Aitutaki atoll which is supposed to be gorgeous. Stay tuned!


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