The mosquitoes in the Cook Islands are vicious! Nothing seems to distract them , we bought the local repellant called Bushman but that has not worked, we even tried locally made deterrents but that has also not worked. Perhaps we deserve it for all the sweet treats we had in America!
After a good walk along the beach we decided to grab some lunch, the restaurant was a five minute walk away. When we got there we found out they do not take card payments, so we had to walk to the ATM which was around 20 minutes away. As the day was getting much hotter and the restaurant was only serving lunch for another 40 minutes we decided to head back to the hotel to pick up a couple of bicycles. The cash machines belongs to ANZ and the transaction was nice and easy as they accepted Visa. We then cycled back to the restaurant:
Tauono’s Garden Cafe
PO Box 1,
T: + 682 31 562
e: [email protected]
This restaurant is great, they grow all their own vegetables and fruit. They do offer some meat dishes, here in Aitutaki it is not possible to find an all vegetarian restaurant.
Sangeet ordered the bread fruit lasagne (not cheap!) which we shared, it tasted great. I also had coconut bread which was also good. After a tasty meal, Sonja, the owner, came out to talk to us and the family sitting next to us, they were from Auckland, New Zealand. She told us how her trip to Aitutaki was only for the day, 15 years ago. This is where she met her husband and has stayed ever since. They have a couple of plantations in the hills where they grow everything, unfortunately a cyclone hit the area a couple of years ago and has devastated one of the plantations, this is where they used to grow coffee and bananas. This all happened 3 months after her husband passed away. Sonja is a keen believer in getting WWOOF’ers onboard to help with the gardening, unfortunately the plantation which is damaged needs to be bulldozed and started again from scratch. She is a very interesting lady and seems to have many stories to tell. She told us about her travels and also how much Aitutaki has changed in the last 15 years. She is a real defender of the mud crabs!
She then asked us all what do we do, I responded that I am in IT so was Whiston from Auckland. She said her Apple Mac had sound issues, we responded by saying we are PC/Window’s guys and get a PC! We then offered to take a look so she brought out her Mac. So now you have four people around the Mac, Whiston, Tyler (their son) Sonja and myself, I powered the laptop, so I class myself as first line support, Weston who we class as second line support has a quick look and passes it to Tyler who said they have around 300 Mac’s in their school. He resolved the issue!!
Sonja was happy but commented that the two IT professionals did not know a thing! This sounds about right!!
It was a fantastic lunch, full of good food, good company and good laughter! You just could not script this!
After lunch Weston, Helen and Tyler mentioned they were hoping to have a look around Etu Moana, we invited them to come along with us. They came with us and liked the resort. We had good conversation and then they decided to head off for a swim.
Sangeet and I grabbed the bikes and cycled into town….well the one grocery shop that is there….the canned foods, cereals, cheeses, chocolates are imported from New Zealand so are very expensive. Take for example a box of coco pops is $10 NZ which works out at £5 British pounds! Sangeet’s small fruit and nut chocolate cost us $3.50 NZ!
The staple diet of the island is fish and chicken…..you can see chickens / cockerels everywhere, they wake you up VERY early you almost cannot blame the locals for eating them!
On the way back to the hotel we passed three other grocery stores. All have similar produce, at one store I asked the lady “who offers free wifi?” she responded “nobody you will just have to hack in!!” Okay that sounds like a challenge! We bought the following from the groceries – there was very little choice!
Tomato soup (concentrated!)
Vermicelli (made from green beans)
Fruit and nut chocolate
In the evening we watched the sun set over the ocean which was fantastic.
I enjoyed peanut butter with crackers and sameeya (sweet vermicelli dish) for dessert.
The hotel we are staying at had a selection of DVD’s we borrowed one, called “The Holiday” it was a good movie, unfortunately I fell asleep before the end…………….Sangeet filled me in!
When you are on an island where food is limited for vegetarians you learn to have a VERY good breakfast, especially when it is free! So I spent some time over indulging in bread and fruit, basically so we could go without lunch.
We got talking to a couple (Joanne and Keith) from Huddersfield (Sangeet’s home town!) we exchanged travelling experiences which was fun. It felt like we were talking for a few minutes, it was actually a couple of hours!
Afterwards Sangeet and I grabbed the kayaks and snorkelling gear courtesy of the Etu Moana and went into the lagoon. It was a fantastic sight, there is a good trick, to paddle up to the coral and then stop paddling, just let the kayak glide over it, that way you do not disturb the sea creatures. You see fish in between the coral. I also paddled 50 feet away from the strong waves which were hitting the coral reef with huge force, it got a bit scary so I paddled back!!
Sangeet swam out quite some distance, I found it strange to be able to look underneath the water and still breath though I have been snorkelling before, it was quite some time ago! You automatically want to hold your breath. I got quite a lot of cuts from the coral on my hands and feet. They feel like paper cuts.
Afterwards I went for a walk, I am desperately trying to get free wifi the rates here are pretty high. The wifi in our hotel is provided by Zenbu, http://www.zenbu.net.nz/
The rates are as follows (correct at time of writing)
Price is NZ dollars
$6 for 20mb
$12 for 40mb
$18 for 60mb
$24 for 80mb
$30 for 100mb
$45 for 150mb
$60 for 200mb
$75 for 250mb
$90 for 300mb
Also the speeds are not great. I walked past houses, to see if they had open wifi, everybodies wifi is locked down……pity!
When I got back to the hotel Sangeet and I decided to walk up to the highest peak on the island, it takes about 20 minutes, on the way we passed a hotel called Paradise Cove, the hotel prices are very reasonable and most overlook the lagoon…..I think this is more geared towards backpackers. Yes, I know what you are thinking “but you two are also backpackers!” This part of the trip we decided on a bit of luxury!
The walk to the peak had amazing views of the lagoon as we got to the top, we sawis access to that peak.
On the way back we passed through a restaurant called Puffy’s and asked what vegetarian dishes they do, the answer was “none!”
We decided to walk back along the beach. We saw some fish on the sand obviously they were dead….I think they committed suicide. Here we saw plenty of fish swim very fast towards the beach and then jump up out of the water then swim back.
As we arrived back at the hotel we got chatting to an American couple from California (Phil and Candy) who have been coming here for the last five years, we sat with them and watched the sunset. Another couple passed us, they were from Leeds (20 minutes from where we live!) they got married here a couples of days ago. Phil and Candy asked us if we wanted some of the fresh vegetables they bought that day and gave us a bag of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onion., carrots and capsicum as we left. It was very generous and nice of them.
In the evening we cut the salad, which tasted very nice, Sangeet also made tomato soup with with the fresh tomatoes. I also had crackers and peanut butter.