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Rarotonga Adventures

2010 September 11
by rob

March 22, 2009

Today was a real nothing day. I did my laundry in the tiny washing machine in the backpackers and hung the clothes on a line to dry in the sun. I walked to the nearby Friendly Mart to get some Raro Lager beer. I laid in the hammock and watched the beach for a long time. I chatted with some other people. Most of them were English. We went back to Friendly Mart to get ice cream. I played with my camera and got a picture of the Southern Cross constellation.

At sunset, many people gathered on the beach to watch the sun sink into the ocean. One reason I chose this backpackers was because it was on the western side of the island and I’d be able to enjoy nature’s best TV show… that happens every evening around the world:

Nature's Best TV Show

Nature's Best TV Show

March 23, 2009

I had the ambition of walking the Cross Island Trek today. It was a hiking trail that traversed the island from the outskirts of Avarua on the northern side of the island across the central hills, and down to the southern end of the island. It’s supposed to take about three hours to do.

It had rained last night and I figured the trail would be muddy and unpleasant. One of the staff of the backpackers, Paul, confirmed that the southern part of the trail would be muddy, but I should be able to do the north part. I could take the bus to Avarua, walk up to The Needle (a picturesque rock formation) and walk back the way I came. Sounded like a plan! I packed some bread for lunch, filled my water bottle and set out.

I took the bus to Avarua and started walking. I didn’t really have a proper map, so I hoped for the best. As I walked through the outskirts of the town, some guy offered me a ride on his scooter up as far as the power station. From there, I kept walking up past another tiny village and some irrigated fields of taro.

Taro Field

Taro Field

After this, I officially got lost. There was very little in terms of signage to guide me. There was no one around that I could ask for directions. I did a very tedious breadth-first search to find the trail. There were some grassy flat areas to walk up and it just ended. There was a tiny opening in a wall of trees that might have been the path but it didn’t seem right to me. After searching for an hour I had drank all my water, ate all my bread, got bored, frustrated and turned around. At least I got some nice panoramic photos of the greenery and scenery in the interior of the island.

Rarotonga Interior Panorama

Rarotonga Interior Panorama (click to enlarge)

While wandering aimlessly around, I saw the Safari 4WD tour go by. The people on it looked like they were having fun. I had considered taking the tour, but I wanted to walk and get exercise… and I didn’t want to pay for it. ’nuff said.

When I returned to the backpackers, I talked to some people and learned that, indeed, it was that tiny gap in the trees that I was supposed to walk through to get on the trail. Oh well.

The rest of the afternoon was very quiet. I filled out some postcards and slacked off. I spent some time sitting in the warm water of the beach. The beach in front of the backpackers wasn’t very great for swimming since there were too many rocks and corals in the lagoon there. It was still very nice to sit there and watch the fish swim around me, completely unafraid. I watched them with great wonder. They’d swim orbits around my feet. They tickled! The water was so warm it was like sitting in a bath tub. The fish swam so close to shore that it was easy for me to take pictures of them.

Fish on the Beach

Fish on the Beach

I spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation, too. My travels were almost complete. After twelve months of travel, I’d be home in less than two weeks. That kind of travel isn’t really encouraged or supported by our society. I don’t think most people can really understand what it’s like unless they’ve done it themselves. As a foreigner, I felt like an outsider most of the places I traveled. Because I traveled so much, I felt that I might be an outsider when I returned home. What would life be like in the future?


Rob Szumlakowski
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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