The party started at the tiny airport with an old guy singing Pokarekare Ana, (among other things), as we went thru customs and two steps later picked our bags off the carousal, just a few steps more before being greeted, lei’d and handed a guava juice. We are in Sunny Rarotonga and the people beside us have been here five times before. It’s a place that many return to apparently and having just seen the lagoon, I can see why. French Riviera ain’t got nothing on you.
The next week is going to be awesome. We have been given a fully paid trip to Raro for reaching sales targets along with a few other couples, all from New Zealand. The view from our room is cooling with a subtropical jungle feel. Each space private. Our room is beautiful, as are the people.
First night dinner is about getting to know each other…and as we relax into the evening I find out…who has no children, young children, step children. No one else has grand children. Soooo yeah. We’re the oldies in the group. Someone asked if we’d been to a tropical island before and I said “Yeah, about forty years ago we were in Fiji”. “FORTY!, one girl exclaimed as others turned their heads. FORTY?” She couldn’t quite believe it. “Ahh yep”, I nodded, mentally checking I wasn’t exaggerating…ok it was thirty nine. I did exaggerate.
We were in Fiji for our honeymoon in 1977. Graham actually loaned us the money and our first time overseas, on a plane. Everything was amazing. We had two weeks there and I remember we both got very homesick after the first week. I actually have the postcards I sent home, finding them amongst Mums stuff. Very cute descriptions of everything.
Next day here at breakfast we discover some of the women have fallen apart at the seams after last nights ‘after dinner drinks’. “What were you drinking”, I ask. “No idea, she replies, in fact, I don’t even remember going to bed” and one of the group had to go to reception and ask where his room actually was. Yeahhh I learned how to pace myself somewhere during that Forty years too!
We walk back to my room as she badly needs nurofen. ” Where are you going?” her husband calls as we divert away from the group., “to get drugs” she yells back. “Jesus don’t shout that out, I say. I don’t want people knocking on my door all hours of the day and night”. She laughs and then winces holding her head. We are firm friends now.
The days all roll into one long amazing experience. Some of the men go fishing and the description was crazy. They couldn’t catch anything on a line so the guy, who is one of the locals told them he could see where Mahi Mahi is as he pointed out to the horizon. “See those birds, he said. The kind of bird they are and the way they are circling we should have some luck up there but we need to spear not line catch”. Our boys nod their heads in excited agreement and before they know it they have motored out there. One of our guys is instructed to drive the boat and while the boat ducked and swerved trying to keep up with the fish, they chased them down and he harpooned two beautiful huge Mahi Mahi, . They saw two big Marlin too but despite efforts never got them, so have rebooked for a Friday deep sea fishing trip. Dale is a mad keen fisherman and he said it’s the best fishing trip he’s ever had. They told the story over and over, each time with new details and we were all enthralled. Especially while it was being lightly seared on the barbecue. It sounded and tasted amazing. “This is the female”, he told us as we lift dripping hunks up to our lips trying to keep it together. “Really! I asked. How do you know?” “The Bull had a bigger head and that one was taken to market. The deal is the boat owner fillets on the spot as much as you need and the rest is for him to sell to offset his costs”, Dale replies. Seems a good deal but I did feel a little sorry for the Bull and his lady as I imagined them ducking and diving together in a run for their life and both getting speared. I suddenly found it harder to eat.
Dinner last night was a traditional meal with beautiful raw fish, salads, taro, breadfruit chips and fresh fish among other things. This was followed by an hour long cultural dance fest where at the end the young ones chose a partner from the audience. “Here’s your chance to dance”, Gilbert whispered, knowing I’m always keen to dance. There was so many gorgeous young things in the audience, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be trailing over to ask me, and I was right but come to our table a young girl did and tried to convince Gilbert to get up, but he would be the least likely to get up in the whole room and she didn’t succeed.
The ones that did get up provided us with hilarity as they tried to sway or be warrior like depending on which role they were in. “You looked like a Chechen poodle on P” Dale yells at Ben who is in sales and marketing when he returns to the table. “Why thanks Ben smiles back, It’s a lot harder than you think. That definitely gets your heart rate up and better than a gym work out”.
I think I’m going to love this place I say to Gilbert. Then an older Rarotongan lady comes over to our table and smiles at me as she passes. She reaches behind and pulls the door shut where a stiff breeze is blowing through. “You Ok Aunty?” she asks as she returns to her place. “Yes thanks” I smile. Man you know you look old when the old lady in the room calls you Aunty…..