Leaving Civilization for Awhile.

This (Thursday) is my second last day on Rarotonga. I’ll be busy on Friday getting packed and attending some farewell events, so this will be it for entries until I get to Los Angeles a week from Saturday.

I’ll head off to Atiu at 11:00 AM on Saturday. It’s a 55 minute flight.

I’m not sure that I blogged about this, but because the stock market did well, I decided that it would be nice to experience another island in the Cook Islands. Getting to the Northern Group costs well over $3,000 return. So, I’m heading to Atiu in the Southern Group.

It has a very good reputation and both Atiu and Aitutaki are on many tour offerings.

However, Atiu is small. There are 400 residents. There is space for 22 visitors at anyone time.

Atiui is noted for it’s caves, bird life and secluded beaches. I’ll try to do all three. I may even fish – watch for the photos.

The Atiu Villas is the main place to stay and Roger is the character that runs the Villas. He’s built the Villas out of local palm and hard woods. This is enough to get my interest.

I’ll have a villa all to myself. It has everything you need to make your own meals, including a stocked larder that you pay for before you leave. The Villas can also provide an evening meal – something I’ll take advantage of.

If you want to get a sense of Atiu and the Villas, check it out on Trip Advisor

There is internet service on Atiu, but it’s only for emails. I’ve discovered that all my Apple devices, when they think they’re connected to the internet, use all sorts of data. I’ve spent $100 New Zealand dollars for 3 gigabytes of usage and it was gone in six days. I’ll figure it out. For the next week, only my family will get my missives.

My second day with the Grade 9s was anti-climatic. We started the assignment, but it began to rain. Since we didn’t want the equipment to get wet, I got them all back into the computer lab. I gave them 40 minutes to work on their typing skills. Unfortunately, about five of the computers didn’t seem to have the typing program.

This is the stage at which an experienced teacher has a few tricks up their sleeve to pull out on a minute’s notice. I threw out my trick bag when I retired. So, mostly I wanted there not to be a riot. They managed that and more.

In fact, I had two girls come up to me at noon and apologize for their behaviour the previous day. They were very sweet about it and I believe it was unprompted. I accepted in what I hope was good grace.

During all this, I also had a crying girl who didn’t want to tell me what was wrong. I sent her to the library. With crying girls, I wait until their friends are around – they’ll usually spill the beans. She seemed to, once it was time for the typing program, get over her sorrows.

You want to know the chink in my teaching armour? Crying. I have no idea what to do aside from being sympathetic. Gets me every time.

Many teachers get frustrated with any activity that involves technology. It is so often unreliable or has conditions attached that halt your forward progress. I can bend with the best of them, so it doesn’t bother me that much. Caleb will have to complete the assignment next week.

I’m generally a goof ball, but it seems to pay off. The only room at the school which is air conditioned is the computer lab. Yesterday I walked into the lab, threw my arms up into the air and flapped my “wings” to get the cool air to circulate all over my body.

Today, the same Grade 11s came into the lab and they started to do the “air conditioner dance”. We had a good laugh.

I’ve been trying to figure out if I should come back the same time next year. My plan is to come for 22 years in a row and then at 80, reevaluate the situation.

I’ve struggled with the heat. I can see my Canadian readers not being all that sympathetic. As I type this, I’m on my balcony, there are big waves crashing against the shore, and I’m wearing exactly one piece of clothing (that’s right, I don’t have my sandals on).

However, when I got up this morning, my pillow was sopping wet. Never had that happen before.

I love this country. There have been some changes, but I’ll get to that in another post. To imagine the Cook Islands, you should imagine that Yorkton had become an independent, sovereign nation. The Republic of Yorktonia! Everyone knows everyone else’s business and has an opinion about it. However, Yorkton is a really nice small city. I’d be a citizen of Yorktonia.

Coming for the last week in February and the next two weeks in March, from a volunteering point of view, has been better than last year. They are well into their school year and I haven’t wasted a lot of time with school startup business.

However, can I stand the heat, even though I’m not in the kitchen? I’ve thought a lot about it the last few days and finally the answer is obvious. When it’s hot in the Cook Islands, stay close to your fan and read junk fiction. Don’t try to be a tourist hero. Wait until it’s a reasonable day before you climb the mountains of Rarotonga.

Yes, it’s hot in the tropics. Drink lots of fluids and don’t try to do too much.

If you see me once I get home, you’ll know that I’ve had four weeks of slow roasting. I should be pretty darn tender.

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