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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Cross-Island Track

COOK ISLANDS | Wednesday, 12 February 2014 | Views [1472]

It’s my third day here, second day waking up in paradise. It was 7:22 AM when I awoke yet I was ready to make the most of today! On my agenda was the Cross-island Track. Rarotonga isn’t as big as New Zealand or Ethiopia so there’s no multi-day walks but this track is the island’s longest and most popular. As I prepared my breakfast of Weet-Bix, almond milk, papaya, and tea I chatted to Isabel and Joanna, two lovely German girls who’ve been staying here. It seemed pointless to go out since almost nothing is open before 9 AM. At 8:30 AM I had all my gear ready: snorkelling gear (in case I decided on going), boots, a litre and a half of water, Turkish tea and mug (I planned on sharing some with Clare), and a load of other stuff. With me also was the last copy of my book since Clare wanted to buy it. This morning I waited 20 minutes for a lift (a long time by Rarotongan standards). This morning I went to Coco Latte, which makes the absolute best coconut smoothies on the island! The signature smoothie is “Uncle Mark’s Nut.” Mark whips up the smoothie and then pours it into a coconut before sticking a straw in it, therefore I’m “sucking his nut” in his words. 

Mark is a big bloke from New Zealand, and the girl who works there is a young Rarotongan lady. I’d hoped she would pose for me but there’d be no such luck! A coconut smoothie would be a perfect treat at the end of the cross-island walk but Coco Latte is only open until 3 PM during summer. February is the quietest month on the island; I came here expecting it to be packed since many Kiwis are still on holiday breaks, etc. “Uncle Mark’s Nut” was great! And I’ll be in tomorrow for another nut; not the other nut, another nut. It would have been quicker to hitchhike clockwise to Avarua but I did it anti-clockwise. During those idle times waiting for a lift I was enamoured by and shot photos of the sea.

A man originally from ‘Atiu on a motorbike picked me up and dropped me in front of the Tahiti Café where I went across the road and bumped into Garth. “I’d like a long black, please” I said to Clare. I didn’t have enough money on me but she’s buying my book so she’ll take it out of that.

Some idiot put diesel in Garth's petrol vehicle, so he had no vehicle last night to come get me. It’s my last night on the island so he said we could meet up tonight. Why did I only plan four days in Rarotonga? It’s so beautiful and so amazing here that I should have planned longer. If I had like two or three weeks I could take a trip to some of the outer islands. If I had two or three months I could scout around for a yacht and possibly go to Suwarrow. In Russian, Suwarrow is spelled “Suvarov,” pronounced somewhat like “so far off” and so far off it is! The only way there is by private yacht. This morning I wanted to track down Nanette but Clare didn’t have her number. She said she works for the TV station and it’s just a few minutes’ walk away. I was too much on Cook Islands time; I should have awoke very early and did the cross-island walk whilst it was relatively cool. For lunch I went to the same Indian restaurant I went to yesterday. Today I had the lamb saagwala, which is lamb in a spinach concoction. At the TV station they thought I was talking about a different Nanette, but after like an hour or so of waiting I got her mobile number. It was after 1:00 so I thought my best bet would be to start the cross-island walk before it got too late. The road leading up to the carpark is about 2 km south of the main road but thankfully a truck was heading that way and dropped me there. It was hot and steamy, and bugs were buzzing about. The first hour or so of the track is almost straight up! The walk looks short and easy on a map but even as an experienced tramper I found it pretty challenging. Plenty of drinking water is crucial, as are sturdy boots. Several times I had to stop for a breather as the sun beamed through the canopy. There was adequate cloud cover so it wasn’t as bad as it could be. In just an hour or so I was at the junction leading to the Needle. I left my pack and camera bag there so I wouldn’t have to carry so much gear up there. The last part of the walk requires holding onto chains and ropes, but what an awesome and rewarding view!

What a magnificent view! It’s beautiful and stunning, with the ocean on both sides!

All I could see around me was green and blue until a beautiful white bird soared into the view! The sun was beaming down on me and I kept saying “c’mon clouds, cover the sun.” With video mode I shot myself up at the Needle lookout, panting and out of breath, with the euphoria of having made it to the top, on a fearless journey! After more than 15 minutes at the lookout I slowly made my way south. I stepped straight onto a tree root and took a bad fall. Ouch! Straight on my right hand I went, and it took me a minute or so to compose myself. Although Rarotonga is very small, this track is extremely secluded and it’s best to let someone know you’ll be walking. If you fall and hurt yourself it could be a long while before someone finds you, and certainly the mozzies will feast on you before you’re found. Minutes up the trail I nearly took a bad fall into a stream with my brand new camera in front of me. Slow down, Chris! Eventually I’d make my way out to Papua Waterfall, better known as Wigmore’s Waterfall.

Mozzies are everywhere but the falls are a refreshing dip after the track. A Finnish couple filmed me in the plunge pool rejuvenating my soul. Just outside the exit is the abandoned Sheraton resort. It was practically complete when the owners ran into some legal trouble and were kicked off the island. Nobody else was willing to complete the project and the buildings lay abandoned for 20 years or so. I called Garth before hitching with a couple from the Solomons back to the backpackers. Garth said he’d pick me up at 6 PM but he was late and I got lost talking to people again. On the back of a motorbike I saw Garth but when we spun around he was gone! For some reason I can’t call his number from the backpackers and I’ve had to hunt around for a phone to use. I didn’t see him tonight though. It was foolish to leave like that because I thought of getting a pizza when I could have easily heated up the curry I made yesterday. The sunset tonight was downright gorgeous!

In complete awe I kept my camera going! The colourful clouds tonight were no less amazing!

When I saw a girl on a motorbike pull in next door I asked if I could use her phone but she had no credit. She did strike me as that “island girl” whom I’d love to photograph! She wasn’t willing to pose but her sister Maria was willing to! Maria isn’t comfortable wearing a bikini but she’s a drop-dead stunner! In black and white she even more amazing!

Excited I was; I got my “island girl” shot! Since being here I hadn’t gone into town at night, so I wanted to experience that before I leave, sadly, tomorrow. I heated up some curry, made some Turkish tea, and enjoyed the warmth and the beauty of working on my laptop outside. Tonight I’d definitely be staying up late! It doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep, it’s difficult to sleep more than a few hours each night. If the heat doesn’t wake you, the roosters will. If the roosters don’t wake you, the mozzies will. If the mozzies don’t wake you, people moving around will. Eventually I would get a lift into town with these Aussie guys but I didn’t stay out very long. Going clubbing is the practically the same regardless of where you go: an overcrowded sweatbox with blasting loud music and people drunk off their asses. A takeaway just up the road has huge, tasty burgers for only $3.50. It was dark but warm and drizzling slightly. Two locals in a ute picked me up and I rode in the back, though they were swerving back and forth! Tonight through I just whiled the night away. It was one of those nights were I didn’t care about a thing around me. I chatted, had some tea, chatted, shared stories, chatted, uploaded diving photos, and chatted some more. A Filipino lady from Perth arrived tonight and will be here for a week or so.  By around 2:30 in the morning I was still up and finally ready to pass out! It has been a great time on Rarotonga and I feel bad now that I only planned three nights, though I can always come back for more. Next time I’ll plan enough time to go to ‘Atiu and Aitutaki, and perhaps even Ma’uke, Mitiaro, or Mangaia.

New Zealand here I come…

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