Arriving into the South Pacific
Saturday evening is when I left Auckland NZ, flying out to Rarotonga of the Cook Islands and landing on Friday night. How did that happen? I crossed the international date line, that's how.
The couple I sat next to on the plane looked like islanders so I slowly started up a conversation with them. I wanted to get the scoop on the island and what I should do while I was there. They were islanders but lived in NZ now. I was next to the lady, her husband was next to the window. She told me that there was a big paddle race happening the week I was there called Vaka Eiva.
Then we continued to talk about Crossfit and she told me there was a box on the island. You know that made me quite happy. She was also very interested in my travels and how I travel on such a budget so that was a big conversation as well.
Her husband had a carhart hat on so I had to interrupt him from his music to ask where he got it. It's (as far as I know) an American working mans brand of clothing. It's also my dad's favorite brand of work jeans, he would have like this islander with his carhart hat. And the answer I got from him was that he ordered it online. Incase you cared to know.
The flight was pretty rough, lots of turbulence much like my last flight to Hawaii with dad and tutu. A lot like that flight!!! It sounded like a roller coaster ride inside the cabin as we seemed to free fall a time or two.
We did land safely and arrived to a very small airport that only has a plane or two in at a time. The landing and take off strip is also not long enough making for some very abrupt landings and take offs. The smell of the tropics and the sound of the ocean greeted me as I walked down the stairs of the plane. It was warm and not terribly humid like I thought it would be. I was suddenly even more excited to be here then I was when I left Auckland. Thanks for the suggestion to come here, dad!
There was a lot of traditional lei greetings from islanders as they picked up passengers. There was also a man playing the ukulele in the center of the baggage pick up. That was different but really cool considering I first thought it was coming from the radio. I also saw a banner that told me the island just celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The backpackers (hostel) I booked with had free airport pickup so I waited for Tisa from the backpackers to arrive for me. My accommodations was also the cheapest I found on the island. Tisa was in a well loved island style mini van. She had one other girl to pick up who was on my flight, a German girl named a Anja.
I got lucky with her. She had already been on the cooks and was returning to see a local guy she met 3 nights before she last left. A kiwi who is part Raro. Anja gave me the low down on what I needed to know. I didn't need to buy water, for example. I had my own water bottle and there was a purified water fill station near our hostel. These stations are spread out upon the island, you just need to ask where they are.
As we arrived to the hostel Tisa told me that I was rooming with a guy that apparently I knew. She said we met on the couch surfing website. Indeed we had! I saw a message from him the day before I arrived to the island. Ironically we had both been looking for couch surfing hosts on the island for about the same time frame. There wasn't anyone hosting so we both ended up at the same backpackers. He was messaging me to see if I had found anyone to host me and to ask where I was staying.
We were unloading our backpacks from the van and Anja invited me to go into "the city" with her. I was not expecting city to come out of her mouth but it made me laugh, knowing how small the island was. It seemed there was nothing else for me to do on a Friday night there, so off I went. We hitchhiked from the bus stop at the end of the road the hostel sat on. It was dark out but the bus stop was lit up so drivers could see us. The bus was $5 to take each way and that was the start of how expensive the island was.
We were picked up pretty quick by a local couple who was heading home. They drove us past their house and exactly to where we needed to be, Trader Jack's, a restaurant and bar directly on the water. We met Paul here, Anja's guy and a mix of locals and visitors. There was a live band playing cover songs in an island rhythm that was really good. Oh and the city, yeah it wasn't a city but it was for this tiny little island. It was just one stretch on the main road of several single story buildings.
I attracted lots of drunk old men at the bar, the first guy was persistent on me going to his house that night. He kept saying you can sleep on my bed, I'll sleep on the couch, you'll be safe. Then he'd re introduce himself to me. This conversation repeated itself a few times while Anja and Paul stood near by and enjoyed a laugh.
We moved down the road to a club called rehab. Not a place I normally would have gone but it was fun for that night. There was a $5 cover charge which I'm not a fan of unless it's going to a live band, there was only a house DJ. It was a partially open aired building with the bar under cover and the dance floor and dance stage outside.
I met my roommate Floor (pronounced with a fancy Dutch accent), here. He was from Holland and when he walked in I knew immediately that it was him! After all we had talked on the couch surfing site and I had seen his photos.
I danced with a few local guys and tourists before the club closed at 2am. We took an open aired "party" bus home for $5 which was really the only option at that hour. It started down pouring and it was windy with the rain blowing in on all of us. One by one we quickly jumped up grabbing ahold of the poles in the middle of the bus. Without communicating it we all decided it was better to stand in the middle and dance to the music blaring from the bus speakers rather then sit on the outside edges, cold and wet.
I think everyone on the bus was drunk except for Anja and Paul and myself. This one guy who was a on holiday kiwi started pole dancing behind me! He wouldn't leave my side and then when we arrived at his stop he wouldn't get off. I didn't realize it was his stop but I asked him if it was and he said, well it depends, are you getting off here?" I said no and he said well then I'm not getting off here either.
When we arrived to our stop, Paul, Anja and I got off followed by the drunk kiwi. He tried to come back to the hostel with me! Paul told the guy to get back on the bus, that I had a roommate and he couldn't sleep over with me. He replied that he would be quite. Then all three of us were shouting at the bus to not leave without him and to him, that he couldn't come back with us. He whispered to me "I'll follow your footsteps."
I mean come on... This guy was actually hilarious with his comments but not someone I was about to take back with me.
He skipped his resort drop off for me apparently and he DID find his way back to the hostel that night.
I over heard a conversation the next morning about a drunk guy who was found on an outside couch early the next morning. His description was a match! There's a Samoan family of 4 that lives in a room upstairs at the hostel and looks after the place. The guy crashed on the couch just outside their room.
He was kicked out of the place once he was discovered. I guess he actually did "follow my footsteps."