Ahoy! It’s been forever. After two more snow days and a stressful week of midterm papers, we were rewarded with a trip to Rarotonga, which is part of the Cook Islands. I had anxieties about traveling with 8 other loud kids for a week, but I figured with beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and a few solid friends I’d manage to have a good time. All in all, the week was really amazing, but there were some serious ups and downs that weren’t anticipated that led to some frustrated moods that I didn’t want to be dealing with on my spring break. Basically, the strictness of our itinerary with the entire tone of the trip was kind of unpleasant, but we don’t need to talk about authority complexes or whatever here, so I’ll just share the good parts. Even with an eye for rebellion and being the reluctant tourist, I got to go to a tiny tropical island and had a sweet time. Some of the photos were taken by other people, some by me, but they really don’t do it justice.
The first day was packed. We went to the Saturday Market, which had really good food, lots of pearls, some crappy stuff mixed in with a few cool vendors.

Also, here’s where we stayed. It was right on the beach, but the water there was really shallow and had lots of coral. Not that any beach there wasn’t full of coral.

Then, we had a lil’ cultural day and after making our dinner plates out of the palm leaves and dying sarongs, the boys and girls split up and learned traditional dances and made more accessories out of palm leaves. We then went to some taro fields and pretended to help them plant some bulbs.

We then got the coconut experience of our lives as they showed us how to break them, husk them, crack them open, and eat/drink them. So delicious.

They made us a huge spread of food for dinner and played music and danced for a while. It was cool.
The next day, we went to church, which would have been great for the first 45 minutes, but we were instead subjected to a special three hour service. In Maori. So we had to leave church early, and head to where we went snorkeling.

This snorkeling trip seriously saved me. After enduring three hours of church in another language, swimming in clear blue water with some pretty impressive fish was probably the best thing we could have done.
I think that night we may have gone to a little mini golf dinner spot. It was wayyyy delicious.
I think the next day we went to the school, where they greeted us with leis and each class did performances for us. We split up and hung out in the classrooms for a while and then ran around with them for what felt like an hour-long recess. When we went back two days later we knew not to give any piggyback rides, because once you give one kid a piggyback ride you have to give them all piggy back rides. But look how cute they are.

We might have gone paddle boating or something after that, or we went to the beach and swam to a little island. Muri Beach was a popular one for us…

At some point we also did a cross-island hike, which was sweet. There were huge ferns towering above me, and really nice views of the beaches amongst some very Jurassic Park-looking scenery.

Then we got dinner at some tiki-hut style, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” type of restaurant, which was on literally on the beach on the West coast so we got to see the sunset.

The best night for sure, despite being scolded as a group for our hydration habits.
The next morning we went to an amazing whale lecture, well mostly it was amazing because the head scientist at that center was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Somehow she started out as a nurse but then ended up being one of the leading whale researchers in the field. She basically raised her kids on a whale boat and is still based in Rarotonga. Currently, she’s studying whale migration patterns, which apparently have something to do with the moon… Anyway, once again I was reminded that life is what you make it.
Then we went to a really boring environmental lecture, went to the beach again, went to dinner.
Some point in there we went on “Pa’s Medicinal Walk” where this guy (Pa) walked us around his property and showed us all types of fruit and spices and other plants.

He’s a total hippie medicine man and told us how he’s helped people with cancer and how we can determine if we have diabetes and cured Connor’s fabricated gout. He was really cool and his property was amazing. I felt bad being so skeptical.

We had our “free day”. AKA practically 2 hours spent on “electric bicycles”, which were real bulky. Luckily the throttle was there if you wanted to go about as fast as a normal bike. I shouldn’t be whiny, it was a beautiful day, we went here:

A beautiful place with some beautiful people. Again, right when I thought I knew everything I was reminded that life is what you do with it, and there will always be someone with a completely different life than myself ready to teach me something when I least expect it. We laughed a lot, we ate a lot of fruit, sausages, and weird stuff, we drank some fruity cocktails, as it was just another week for the Cook Islanders.

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