Rarotonga is another one of those places not on my must-visit list, but when it
appeared on the horizon as we cruised the South Pacific I felt an overwhelming pull to go
ashore and experience it. The magnetic effect may have come from some other source, or
it may have been the iron content of the rocks on the volcanic island that rises from the
Pacific – what ever it was we went ashore.
The island is the largest island in a group collectively known as the Cook Islands.
It is the seat of government for the self-governing island country, in free association with
New Zealand. During our visit we learned that Medicare is available for $5.00 a month,
underwritten by New Zealand.
The 15 islands that make up the country are so small they do not have any lakes;
rainwater is held in ponds for human consumption. Only the largest of these islands have
streams that drain away rainwater.
The day we visited, the docking was beset by what I considered a heavy rain but
was little more than a heavy mist for the residents. We tendered ashore and arrived on
land by about 9 a.m. which is a late start for me most days, but since the island is only 93
sq. miles it still gave us time to experience most of the sights and smells of the volcanic
Our first stop was the national museum, which did not allow pictures and was
housed in a rather small two-story building. There was only one stairway going to the
upper level, which spoke to the fire regulations of the place. Overall it was a bit of a
yawner, and I was not sure there was much that was worth photographing so I was not
upset by the regulations.
We then made our way to a marketplace that was closing early because it was
Saturday. I bought a brightly coloured shirt for my collection and decided since it was
Saturday perhaps we would treat ourselves to a malted beverage. We did get directions to
a liquor store across the street, I ventured toward it and found that the island had its own
brewery. When I asked for a can of the local product the clerk asked if I wanted it
opened, and yes I did.
It is unusual to be in the area of ships docking and a tourist market and not be able
to find a bar, but that is precisely the situation that we faced. I was not too upset by the
circumstance but did voice my surprise as we sat under a tree near the sidewalk. A lady
walking by heard my plea and said there was a bar up the street but it was too far to walk;
she offered us a ride.
Sandra, I and another couple piled into this lady’s compact car and she drove us to
a bar. As we exited the vehicle she asked what time our ship departed and promised she
would be sure to come and pick us up to get back to the dock in time. How can you argue
with an offer like that?
We entered Trader Jacks and sampled his wares, Tropical Cyclones, Mojitos, and
a TJ Special. Personally, I stayed with the Matutu Celebration Beer and felt more aware
of my surroundings and the time. At the prescribed hour our new friend returned and
picked us up for the trip back to the docks. My five beers from the grocery store were still
on the floor where I had left them. I have the highest regard for the honesty of the people