Having a great time! I have tried to break it down into a few topics. It is Sunday and most things are closed today and it is quiet. Aitutaki is too quiet for Garry and by today it is for me, too, but it has been a great stop. It has been windy which helps keep us a little cooler. Humidity is low, so that is great!!! Every guest we have met here has been fun to meet. Temps have been around 80 or so. Soooo read on.
Mutiny on the Bounty
A little bit of history for you. April 11, 1789, just over 304 years ago, Captain Bligh, Commander of the Bounty, set foot as the first European on Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands. This was just 17 days before the famous mutiny on the Bounty. It makes me want to brush up on my history, but the cost of internet here prevents that until I get home.
You picture in your mind the movies made about it and you feel a little bad you didn’t do more research before you came. On the other hand it is kind of fun to learn little tidbits like this along the journey. I knew about the mutiny but just did not realize the close connection (17 days) that the good old Captain would have a real adventure!!!
A bit more current history is of the coral route of flying boats. Originally, the route started as a mail route for Teal Airways (Tasman Empire Airways LTD) flying boats and the lure of the South Pacific called the rich and famous. One of the islets (motu) of Aitutaki was a refueling stop for the flying boats and soon stars of the ’50s would be flying to and from Tahiti, Fiji, Bora Bora but have to stop to refuel. Stars such as Cary Grant, John Wayne, and Katherine Hepburn were among those who would get off the plane and go to the little hotel for refreshments, swim and relax before continuing on their way. This airline is now known as Air New Zealand.
Snorkel Trip and Survivor Season 7
On Saturday we took a 6 hour Lagoon cruise which took us to 3 islands, an onboard barbeque lunch and some nice snorkeling. The winds have been really strong since we got here. The morning of this trip I made the comment that I thought the wind had died down, but not true so it was a little bouncy snorkeling, but the water was pretty clear. We saw lots of colorful fish, a couple huge fish, and some really really giant clams. Of course all of you that know I am a reality show junkie, we stopped at one of the islands where they filmed Survivor Aitutaki, Season 7. It was not one of the best seasons but it was kind of interesting to hear things from a local perspective. We learned that for about 4 months many of the usual tourist locations were off limits due to the show, but it added 400 jobs to the economy and lots of good publicity. We walked through what was left of one of the camps they lived in. We saw in a distance Exile Island (or Redemption Island). And we saw the place where they all stayed for the duration if they were voted off the island. It sounds like that was the happening place!!! The film crew and head honchos all stayed on the main island of Aitutaki at the nicest resort on the island. All in all for the community it was considered a good experience. There were 26 people in our little tour group. Many had flown over from Rarotonga for a day trip of an island tour, snorkeling and then back. We had it made where they beached the boat at our resort and we hopped right on. It was a really nice day and if there had been less wind would have been perfect. On the other hand, the wind helps us stay cooler.
TV on Aitutaki
OK – so we are TV addicts, but this is pretty funny. We actually have been listening to the iPod quite a bit, but there is satellite TV here and some of it is really fun. Several channels are in French as we are so close to French Polynesia but one of the channels is National Geographic so we make up the story. They have abbreviated CNN, International, abbreviated ESPN, lots of sci fi (creepy – we are not that much of TV addicts!), one channel of current 1/2 hour US sitcoms which we never watch (Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, 3 Broke Girls), Dancing with the Stars- French version with 4 judges, and coming soon, Who Do You Think You Are?. Dancing With The Stars was not initially from the U.S but it is amazing how identical they are. Last night we had a short time before going to dinner and found on ESPN college football…. so exciting (not). It was Wyoming vs. Fresno St. Turned it off and listened to music. Oh – no commercials on TV over here.
Passport on OneFootIsland
While we were on our lagoon cruise, we stopped at One Foot Island. Local legends abound about its name, but for $2 NZ you can get your passport stamped at the smallest post office in the world with a legitimate passport stamp.
Tomato vs. tomahto
The other night we had a great dinner here at our resort. It was Reef and Beef. Rib eye and prawns and calamari. Tonight (if we go there) is Surf and Turf. Rib eye and prawns. Not sure what the difference is between Reef and Beef and Surf and Turf, but for the most part the food has been really good here. Menus are very similar from place to place. There is a little something to make Europeans happy, Americans happy, New Zealanders and Australians happy and locals happy. We are trying to limit ourselves to 2 meals a day. It usually works….. but not always! After all, we are on holiday!
Tipping – yes or no
Tipping is not common here but not as discouraged as it used to be. Some nice Australians early on told us just to round up, but if you tip, never more than 10%. So if your dinner tab is $88, they would round to $90. If you tip more like the 10%, it should be well earned for something special.