When one has come to explore the ' instant moment '
This was quite a sight.
I didn't purchase any island dress on this trip.
My bag is perfectly full,
it can't fit anything further,
Though I'd like more island dresses,
I didn't need more.
I love my island dresses.
I'm so loyal to them.
The ones I always wear on my trips in the islands.
I wouldn't wear them anywhere else, but in the islands.
I wore my pink & yellow one once in Uvita,
and even there it didn't feel fitting.
Though the landscape was fitting,
The time and local culture didn't feel right.
I've worn my dresses to Centro America & the Caribbean, Melanesia and Polynesia.
The eye-popping colors will always link my eyes to my heart to my beloved island living.
The moment I can put them on is the moment I know the real journey begins,
a kind of journey into myself,
and a journey to truly live life as it should be;
When I'm switching into the pacific island mode and I tell myself:
There's no rush, expect delays, be friendly,
people are lovely, things are timeless,
let things take the time they need,
just take it easy, and don't worry about anything.
There's no need to worry about anything while you're here.
Just be, and live, and connect with life itself and with others.
It is quite inconvenient that the best water and sunrise are on the complete opposite side of the island
where no backpackers or hostels are set up, and no easy transport to get to that side,
(not to mention all the swanky resort-goers all reside on this side of the island).
Aside from Ni, who I had invited to stay with me at the Passage Villas, my accommodation in Raro,
a few other friends who had wanted to see the sunrise from mine had missed out on it,
because they didn't think the rainy days prior & forecast of showers would warrant a good sunrise.
But I had a beautiful sunrise every morning at the villa.
I would nudge Ni awake, she'd moan and get up,
I'd open all the curtains to the glass doors that make up the direct entrance to the front lawn & sea,
and we'd first sit and watch the beautiful sun from the bed.
Later, we'd go out, i'd walk right up to the sea on the small deck made available by the owner,
the waves at the break are very close to shore,
the sound roaring yet serene.
On another day, i'd pull out the outdoor seat cushion onto the front yard,
and I'd hold a cup of hot drink in my hand,
pull the brand new blanket the owner provided over me,
and watch the sun rise over the horizon under soaring wings of sea birds,
The ocean breeze and warm light washing over me.
I could really live here long-term...
It's so lucky to be able to own a gorgeous spot of land right here & set up houses like these.
People are truly blessed here...
I wish I had ancestry like the people of the Cook Islands,
How special it is to be able to have such a strong tie to our own land like this.
The owners of The Passage Villas are local and half-Niuean-half-Norwegian.
I hope to stay here again and get to know them both a bit better.
This time I was out early and came home very late as I was with friends.
I want to spend more quiet time just at the villa itself,
and breathe in that ocean air brought in by the lapping tides coming over the coral reef.
Here's a video proof to those who didn't believe in Raro Sunrises in rainy season and then regret it afterwards. It was pouring the day before this and on this day after 8am. But look at the sunrise!
âProbably nothing has more fanfare on the than the girls and boys' brigades weekend on Sunday.
I heard them before I saw them.
The Brigades Weekend happens on the second weekend every month.
I was lucky enough to be here for 2 Sundays.
The 1st weekend of the month is the White Dominion,
where everyone would put on an outfit in white when attending church.
The second weekend of the month welcomes the Boys and Girls Brigades.
It was quite a scene.
My pictures from this morning all look as if I was on a photography mission for a travel book...
It is really hard to come by a passing car for minutes at least.
The roads are unpaved, which gives it a very earthy feel.
As there are hardly cars coming through, the villages are quiet, the air is pure.
Some roads had to be made by cutting through coral,
1 in particular was made by bombing the coral apart,
the road looks like a chasm,
held in by 2 walls of tall coral,
it's very cool.
You just have to make sure to drive slowly through.
Be very careful of incoming cars from around the corner
which is a total blind spot!
the roads are so quiet.
You can walk in the middle for ages before you hear a scooter coming towards you.
𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝑻𝒊𝒑 𝒐𝒇 𝑨𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒊 - 𝑷𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝑷𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒆.
𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒊𝒕 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆. 𝑪𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒑 𝒊𝒕.
𝑻𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏'𝒕 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒍𝒆 𝒈𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒕 𝒔𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒂 𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒔𝒐𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒕.
𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒔 1+ 𝒃𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒏 𝑨𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒊 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔:
𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒍 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆.
𝑶𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒆.
𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒂 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝒊𝒔 𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒊𝒄𝒌,
𝑨𝒊𝒓𝑹𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒕𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒂 𝒘𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒇𝒍𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒑𝒊𝒄𝒌 𝒖𝒑 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒕,
𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒅𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒎 𝒕𝒐 𝑹𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒕𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒂,
𝒐𝒓 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝑵𝒆𝒘 𝒁𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕.
"Excuse me, are you Emma?"
When I was having my final breakfast in the ð¨ð° all alone at a massive touristy hotel complex that I didn't enjoy staying in, and imagining each of the people at the Backpackers around this big table facing the sea, smiling to myself at the thought,
Lanie came over to me and said, "Excuse me, are you Emma ? You were taking pictures in Mangaia"
Oh my gosh yes!
"We saw you walk past and we thought it was you~â
It was the bunch that came over from Mangaia for the youth church conference.
They are all staying here. Taking up half of both upstairs and downstairs of the hotel rooms in the block just in front of mine.
We were practically neighbours.
The girls were making Tik Tok videos in their rooms with their sliding door open.
As each hotel room block is named after an atoll in the Cook Islands,
I said to them, âThey should've put you all in the Mangaia block!"
I joined them at Tangimama's table,
And she remindes me that I said hi to her at the Ministry of Tourism building when I came in for the 3D map.
Because I had just returned from Aitutaki the afternoon before this, I recounted with Tangimama about my favourite taxi driver Teuira who came to pick me up again at the airport, who is from Aitutaki himself, offered to sell me his land just a little further down from Pirai lookout.
I appreciated such a quick and generous offer,
But, I didn't like that land is traded like that
Tangimama told me that Mangaia is in fact 1 of the only 2 islands in ð¨ð° where land cannot be leased.
ââI knew Mangaia was special in its own ways.
I said to her that I really appreciate that that is the way,
and it should be kept that way.
Our ancestors' land should be kept as ours.
It's not something one should easily give away for Money.
I can happily rent something for a short term tenancy contract, but never sell it.
People's greed can really overtake the eternal value they should be placing on their ancestral land.
Especially when you would have so much connection with your land if you keep it as yours, and take care of it as it is yours.
To pass it on even as a 60 year lease is sad
And makes us lose connection with that piece of land and soil and what it carries.
I was so glad to be found by the Mangaia crew.
They brought me the sense of community I was missing when alone in a giant hotel.
I didn't like Edgewater Resort at all,
Until this encounter with them.
Also, Lanie came over just after I saw my first ever rainbow.
What was amazing was,
That rainbow kept returning even an hour later
I was grateful.
It was a good sendoff for me seeing the ones that came from Mangaia.
So I checked out and set off for the Backpackers,
I was sure they Hedge and Lily were due to return home today too,
So I hoped that I might catch them there before we all headed home.
Thank you ð¨ð° once and again,
thanks to the lovely peopleð´
I really appreciate you all.
I have 100 reasons why you should go to the Cook Islands and I won't ever stop trying to tell everyone I know to go to the Cook Islands.
It is just the BEST place I've ever traveled
It is where one's land is one's own, particularly in Mangaia (where land cannot be leased/sold),
and people's connection with their land is so strong, so real.
It is the one place I feel the most welcome and included and embraced.
One can easily connect with people here.
Everyone is simply so friendly and generous.
It is the few places in the world where you can so easily hitchhike and meet someone new and become good buddies with them.
I have had such strong memories from my 1st trip,
and this 2nd trip simply deepened my love for this island nation.
I am keen to explore more of the outer islands on future trips to come.
As each island feels like a different country in itself, with different language and accent, and different cultures. I love the people of the Cook Islands very much.
I am eager to revisit Aitutaki in October,
to learn more from the peoples of the other outer islands.
I feel so so so happy for the 1st time in 2 years.
I have truly missed the islands, and I have truly missed traveling for real.
Aitutaki has been such a good trip
Not only did I get to spend time with Kasia & Leila and get to know these two girls very well in 4 days,
I also built a good little life in Aitutaki Seaside Lodge, there was everything I need.
I watched Sunset with Leila every evening
Stargazed and chatted about everything and nothing and laughed about many things
We soaked in the water and sunbathed and ate simple but very healthy meals.
I walked around the water at low tide and admired all the fishies,
I even came across a Moray eel again at no more than 50metres from shore.
& that thing frightened me all over again.
They seem to pop out of nowhere when you least expect it.
But somehow I was so fascinated by the eel, i tried to go back to that coral again where it nested,
but I couldn't find it again after 1 hour of roaming amidst the reef.
Life here is so wholesome and complete.
I felt so happy and healthy and content here
I found that even my hair is extra soft here
My skin glows and my body detoxed with all the sweating and sunning and swimming in salt water of the sea daily.
Yes one may get bored at some point,
as there is nothing much to do here but admire the Garde of Eden given to us,
but one is fulfilled, healthy and happy.
âThis is the true life we're meant to be living.
"Emma! Come! Follow me!"
You can't help but love Aitutaki.
Last time I was only touring around the water, this time I will thoroughly explore the island itself.
Already, I'm loving the no-need-to-lock-the-car, no-need-for-keys vibe.
“Nothing bad happens here.”
Though a former tour guide here did go to jail for doing something bad, that a local person may not want to share or speak about it.
After having just arrived and picked up my car to check out the main area Anytime, I already want to come back for the mangoes.
Made my 1st new friend within 5min of arriving into the centre of the Amuri village.
Daniel taught me a lot already in 2hours about the trees and flowers, and the sentiments one feels about Aitutaki when all of this land belongs to their ancestors.
He said he is going to retire here soon & stay here
He is sick of working for someone else.
It's so important to feel your own land.
It's not something you feel in other countries.
I told him, you really feel the 'tawai' here.
That's why it feels so good to come back.
I just checked the lagoon again, drove around the whole island and to the top of the hill for the 1st time. The water is so beautiful, so shallow & clear, can't wait to share memories with friends from Raro at one of my top favorite place on this beautiful planet of ours.
Who would go around the whole island twice in 1 day? â
With 2 different people,
who offered completely polar opposite perspectives. Totally worth it.
It's not like there's anything better one could do anyway than experiencing the island.
Despite taking pretty much the same roads around the island,
And despite having less than 20min rest time in-between the two rides around & through this massive island,
I found myself learning completely different things from two vastly different people.
1 is Poroa Arokapiti, local Mangaian,
He taught me lots of Mangaian history.
He was the 1st out of 7 Mangaians to have left Mangaia for NZ to do seasonal work in the 70s,
& that the Acacia trees are no good and cannot be burnt,
how there are more houses than people,
more religions than tourists,
erase of cannibalism,
He also didn't take any photos;
1 is John Uriaro from Atiu,
He regrets leaving NZ in '87.
He has a total rejection for the white men's religion
& that some places are cursed because people strayed from the ancestral ways,
& always eyeing out for fruits on the road, picking chilli & soursop,
driving around to spots for photos.
Both gave me totally different experiences of the same island on the same roads.
I was able to bring what I learnt with one to the time with the other.
1 offers insight into the history I didn't know, while the other gave the completely local connection with te whenua & whanau,
& an alternative outer island perspective on things here in Mangaia.
In 1 day,
I learnt more about this ðï¸ than 1 could in a week.
I hope more people come to Mangaia,
for they'll learn so much.
I hope I will keep the truth of the islandic life here warm & burning in my heart.
This is what living on earth is all about.
The connection one has with land with life itself is so clear, so real.
Though, in so saying, I know and remember that, not Everywhere is as idyllic as Mangaia.
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