Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The rain has stopped, but it’s still cloudy. Fortunately, it’s much warmer and the skies aren’t so very dark. The forecast predicts that it will clear up tomorrow.

We booked a trip to Aitutaki for Monday. Aitutaki is part of the Cook Islands, about a 45 minute flight from here. It’s like the only other island that has tourist accomodations; every other island is pretty much “non-populated” (which means not very geared towards the tourist industry). Aitutaki is still pretty small and, quite frankly, we’re dead if it rains there. We’ve booked a week and the only thing to do is swim or snorkel;, and so if the weather is like this we’ll really be up “the” creek.

Last night we saw a dance competition. It was held at the auditorium in town. The place was about half full and smelled of flowers…I think it’s a frangipani scent (which they sell at the Perfume Factory) but I’m not sure. I would lke to find out, though, as it was really soft and pretty…it could also have been the fresh flowers, too, that people (men included) wear in their hair. Just a tiny flower behind one ear–it’s very pretty. When we first got here and I would see it, it reminded me of my bachelorette party. (We all wore a small silk flower in order to show unity–very necessary during a night out–in case we got separated.) The competition was great to see…lots of hip shaking and foot stomping, and chanting at some parts. They also do some great drumming. We didn’t stay until the end as the last bus departs the town at ten pm, and the walk home is loonng.

We are starting to see a lot of the same people…tourists and locals alike. There is the one guy (who told us about the spiders) named Mark, and we saw him this morning as we came into town. (Paul and Rebecca–the owners of the hostel–had given us a lift. The German couple were also going into Avarua as the girl–Pascal–is getting a tattoo today at 1pm. Apparently the local tattoo guy is very well known and he does great work, especially traditional Maori style.) Mark is staying at Vara’s on the other side of the island, and he said that it was quite nice (we’ll keep that in mind). The internet place is right next to the Waterfront bar and as we walked in here just now we saw him. We are also beginning to be regulars at the bars around here! Well, it has been raining and as I’ve said before, there ain’t much to do in a tropical paradise when it rains…so, we drink, and eat, and drink, and email, and drink (hence my sinus headache this morning) and walk around and book tours to other (hopefully) sunny locations. So, now we know the couple who runs the Waterfront, the two bartenders at Ronnie’s, the lady at the Friendly Mart, and last night we met a couple of local guys at the Waterfront and talked to them for awhile. This morning we saw one of them drive by on his scooter…it’s a small, small island. We”ve both decided that we couldn’t live here!!!

No more spider sightings, but the we have heard that there are some nasty and poisonous ones in Australia. Hopefully by then I will be hardened.

We officially checked out of the Cook Islands Lodge this morning. We followed the sign up the stairs to the office, but it was all abandoned! Casey wouldn’t let me come up since the stairs were falling apart and totally rotting away. We figured out that the “office” was one of the units at the end of the building. The guy took our key and we beat it. We really didn’t have much to say to him–it was sort of awkward, but what were we supposed to say–we really enjoyed it here? Hahahaha.