Cook Islands


Day 8

Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruies

Today I going to join Captain Tama’s Lagoon Tour Cruise! As part of the tour, a tour bus was coming to pick us all up from our hotels. The bus driver was pretty funny, he was cracking jokes the whole way. He was telling us about a tourist that was impressed by his driving and asked him if he has a G-P-S and the driver responded with “No, but I have a M-A-P”. He also pulled the bus over to tell the police on the side of the road that he has a bus full of Kiwis and asked which way to the prison.

We went into the shop to get some flippers and jumped on the boat.
They took us out to a spot with lots of fish. They have been feeding the fish everyday for years so fish tend to gather around the boat looking for a feed. It was a really windy day today, so a few of us didn’t jump in the water and just looked through the glass floor, even the captain said we’re crazy for doing this in winter, haha.

After spending a bit of time there we started heading towards the small island opposite Muri beach where there were some people cooking our lunch using a huge hot plate over an open fire.

After about 10 minutes lunch was served. We had a feast of potato salad, coleslaw, papaya with coconut, watermelon, star fruit, grilled fish, grilled bananas and grilled onions.

On the boat they explained that there is no septic tank on the island because of environmental reasons, so they explained how to use the drop toilets.

After lunch there were a couple of demonstrations, the first was the coconut show. He demonstrated how to climb the coconut tree using a small rope made from the coconut husk around his feet and picked a few coconuts. Then he explained that the brown coconuts are better for the meat and the green young coconuts are better for the water. He also showed how to use a sharp stick to pierce the outer shell of the coconut, then twist until the nut on the inside comes free. He then used the back, blunt end of a really big knife to smash the side and it cleanly snapped in to two. They use the husk from the outer shell to make rope and weave material, the shells to make a coconut bra and ukulele, the trunk of the tree to make posts for houses and drums.

With the water taken from the nut, they use a sharp grated piece of steel attached to a piece of wood that you sit on to scrap out the coconut meat and let it fall into some cloth-like material that they got from the outside of the tree, once all the grated coconut is in the cloth it can be squeezed to extract the creme, which is good for moisturising skin and healing cuts. The left over coconut meat is then used in cooking. No part goes to waste, they call it the tree of life.

After that show, they demonstrated how to tie a sarong a few different ways for women and a couple of ways for the warriors (men), including a G-string style for one of the guys, who wasn’t too impressed.

We had some time to relax on the island as they packed everything up and I laid around listening to the crew play their music. They were quite funny and made up songs on the spot about each other. They only had a few drums and ukuleles, but it was pretty nice music.

We headed back to shore and caught a bus back to our hotels. I heated up some leftover BBQ from last night and relaxed by the pool for a bit.

After chatting to one of my neighbors, I decided to try to book one of the recommended restaurants from the hotel guide called “Vaima”.
I went in and had a chat with Jane, the owner of the hotel and she booked me a table for 7pm. The weather looked pretty terrible, although it wasn’t raining just yet, I thought I’d leave a little early try give myself time to find the place and also to capitalize on the dry weather.

I found the place ok and parked my scooter on the side of the road, amazingly the weather seemed much better now, not sure if it was just because the wind was just stronger on the other side of the island or if conditions had actually improved, but I was able to sit outside with the beach in the distance, the temperature was perfect with barely any wind - it was such a nice night I decided to celebrate with a Matutu (the local beer).

At the cultural night a while ago, I tried the pale ale from Matutu so this time I gave the lager a go. It wasn’t too bad, but the I prefer the pale ale.

I ordered a steak with mushroom sauce and went for a walk down the beach while I waited. I got to the shore and realised I was surrounded by lots of small crabs. Being from Australia, I assume they are trying to kill me, so I gave them some space and headed back toward the restaurant.

I ended up speaking with a guy who was originally from New Zealand, but moved here with his family permanently about 3 years ago. He explained how he just wanted to get out of the rat race and live a more simple life, he gave up his job in Auckland and became a teacher at a local school. He also pointed out that we were standing outside, by the beach, during winter and the weather was perfect - sounds like an awesome move.

A waitress then called out to me to let me know me meal was ready and it looked delicious!

As I was eating a couple turned up to the table next to me, but they picked the table very specifically as they lived next door and their baby sitter was away, so they brought a baby monitor with them! Sitting at the beach with a baby monitor - more examples of what life is like here!

As I was eating, there was a really nice Labrador walking around looking for scraps. I gave him a pat, he looked like he had a big smile and decided to sit by my feet while I ate. I ended up giving him the fat from my steak and the restaurant staff said “I see you’ve met Sam”, he is a local dog that everyone seemed to know. Couldn’t help but think if this was in Australia it would be a health and safety risk or something, but for someone who likes dogs and someone dining by themselves, it was kind of nice having a canine companion!

I got the bill and headed back. This meal was probably too soon, I ate at the hotel sometime between 4-5 and started eating here a little after 7 - I was so full I felt like I was going to explode!

As I was heading to the front of the restaurant to pay, I saw some kids had picked up a crab from the beach and put it on their dinner table. It quickly scurried towards the end of the table and then one of the adults caught it and gave it back to the kids to release back at the beach. I guess even the crabs here are friendly!