Flying out of Aitutaki we caught glimpses of the lagoon and I could imagine how amazing it would look on a clear day. Arriving back in Rarotonga the weather wasn't much better there with cloud and wind. I guess it is cyclone season after all. We had booked an over-budget place in Muri as everything in our budget was booked up. We specifically chose Muri as the beach looked lovely and picturesque with a few small white sanded islands out on the lagoon. We had visions of us spending our days here snorkelling and kayaking out to them. Nature had other plans. The weather was consistently ominous with clouds hanging over, a wind blowing and occasional rain. Instead we lazed around in our lovely unit which had a view of the sea, reading on the sun bed outside when it wasn't raining and listening to local radio with local music (ukulele based) and coverage of Miss Pacific! It wasn't quite what I'd planned but I enjoyed it anyway. The unit was very homely and even had a separate living area. That is novel after living out of a van and one bedroomed places for months. I really appreciated the couch to lay on! It's sad really. When you travel it is the little things that really count, like clean clothes and settees!
The lagoon which had looked so blue and inviting didn't look so the couple of days we were there, being swirled up by the wind. However, as kayaks and snorkels were included in the price we decided to make the use of them. Annoyingly there weren't any masks and snorkels left, but we dragged a kayak into the sea. I forgot how bossy Tim is in a kayak. All my dreams of gliding, relaxingly through the calm inviting sea were dashed with every order barked and every wave that broke over the kayak drenching me in cold water. It felt like we were kayaking at home, it was so cold. I think I have said it before but snorkelling and kayaking haven't been very successful this trip. Whenever we plan to do it something gets in the way, e.g. jellyfish season, weather etc. (although we have managed to get a bit of snorkelling).
The morning we checked out of our Muri accommodation (which we had to leave as it was booked up and plus we couldn't really afford it anyway) we hired a car for a few days. It was a little red one (I know I'm such a girl) and it felt so weird to drive after having driven the van in NZ. I felt like I was driving a dodgem car; really close to the ground. It was an automatic again. I'm a bit worried that I'm going to have forgotten how to use gears!
We drove over to our new accommodation near where we were when we first arrived. It was across the road from another lovely beach. With the weather still iffy we drove round the island not caring when it rained because we had a new car/toy. So the rest of the time was spent doing this, reading, going to “our”café in town (I have a new obsession for grapefruit juice) and enticing fish with old bread. The cloud finally parted one day and in true British style I raced to the beach across the road from us, laid out in it and then went home surprised at how burnt I was. I looked ridiculous with a bow shape from my bikini on my back! That night we went in search of live music in town. We didn't find any, but had a really nice night anyway sitting at a bar overlooking the sea and 'the World', the cruise ship. Then having really nice fish and chips overlooking the harbour as we nosily watched the people disembark onto the harbour from 'the World'.
On our final day I got more of the snorkelling I had been waiting for. First we went out from the beach across the road from us. It was OK with quite a few fish but no coral really. I had read that the best place for snorkelling on the island was opposite 'Fruits of Raratonga', a shop on the South of the Island. As soon as we stuck our heads under the water we saw loads of fish (and we were only in the shallows) They were quite big ones too and were quite bold, coming up to us. We saw loads of butterfly and Angel fish and my friends the Trigger fish too. We also saw lots of other lovely colourful ones but I don't know their names. It was a satisfying snorkel and feeling elated from that we drove to Muri beach to get some in that we didn't manage to when we were there. Again it was not to be though as although the weather was lovely, a canoeing competition was being held, and we didn't fancy getting in their way. It didn't matter though, we felt happy enough with what we had done.
In the afternoon we headed out in the car again for a photography mission. Our first stop was a small botanical gardens, stopping in the garden's cafe first. I had a lemon meringue cheesecake which was gorgeous. Again, the simple things, but cheese cake and lemon meringue pie are my favourites so I was probably a bit too pleased about this combination! After a walk around the gardens we got back into our oven and trundled round again. In the end we decided to give up on the photography as it was a bit difficult to stop in some places to get photos. Instead we headed for Trader Jacks, a bar by the sea.
Our time in The Cooks has come to an end now. I have loved it here. It is so laid back and friendly, so beautiful. I have enjoyed the South Pacific a lot and would definitely come back. (Although I would go back to everywhere we have been) I feel like it has an honest charm about it.
We are currently waiting for our flight to leave. As usual we are about 7 hours too early! I have had my wish granted though and finally got that garland that has been eluding us. Tim and I were the only ones sitting in the small airport, other than a little girl who put her garlands around our neck. I think they look better than they feel though as they are very strong smelling and sticky round your neck. Tim pointed out all the insects crawling round it too and I decided that maybe I didn't want a garland after all.