Caste not the first shoe…

Monday, January 25th

I’m sitting on my balcony at Babe’s Place on Mangaia. I’ve been more or less awake since Sunday at 4:30 am until 6:21 pm (Saskatoon time) on Monday. It’s now 1:39 pm Cook Islands time. I closed my eyes during the LA to Rarotonga stretch, but I don’t think I slept all that much.

The flight from LA was packed. My theory was that, since I was coming a week earlier than usual, people wouldn’t be rushing home for start of school, etc. Wrong.

At least I had been smart enough to book an aisle seat. From the looks of the other passengers, I’d say there weren’t that many Cook Island locals, mostly visitors.

As usual, Air New Zealand were very nice. At one point, I decided I needed to use the washroom. Once I was seated on the throne, the plane started to go through significant turbulence. That was an experience. I hung on, but I could just see myself getting ejected from the washroom with my pants down around my ankles. It lasted for more than five minutes.

It kind of discouraged whatever need I’d had.

Content Warning – Smelly Feet references – skip over if squeamish

I was sitting next to a senior couple – I’d say well into their 70s. Very soon into the flight, I got the biggest waft of smelly feet. The gentleman next to me had taken off his sneakers in order to be more comfortable.

I wanted to gag. I thought about asking the flight attendant for a different seat.

Like a polite Canadian, I said nothing.

Eventually, we got to talking. They were from the south west corner of Nebraska and, unlike many Americans, they’d travelled all over the world. They’d been to both Flin Flon and La Ronge (which he actually pronounced correctly).

They were very interested in what I had to say about Rarotonga.

Fast forward to my arrival on Rarotonga. Hot, hot, hot. I discovered that, no, I’d done the logical thing and packed my fancy new Lee Valley shorts in my suitcase. It was obviously time to put on shorts and flip flops.

However, once I got on the plane to Mangaia, there was a distinctive odor of feet. A chilling realization (if you can be chilled in 30 degree weather) – it was my feet!

Caste not the first shoe…

Smelly Feet reference complete

Landing in Rarotonga, my buddy Tyronne Weerasinghe turned out to meet me. We had spent lots of time together last year.

Tyronne is the Principal of the school on Puka Puka. This is one of the most remote islands in the South Pacific. It is a six hour plane ride and a six day boat journey from Rarotonga. It has a landing strip, but Air Rarotonga only flies there when it’s chartered. Since I’m on an internet diet, I won’t provide you with links, but Google Puka Puka. Very interesting.

It was a 40 minute flight to Mangaia. The 11 passenger plane actually had eight passengers. The island looks much like what I saw on Atiu last year. I may be the only visitor on the island.

Ura was at the airport to meet me. She works for Babe. Since Babe’s place is a distance from the airport, I got a good look at the island. There are some newer houses and some older ones – but every yard was immaculate. The yard and building of the Latter Day Saints was especially impressive.

There are all the predictable government offices: a hospital, dentist, doctor’s office, post office and so on. Ura stopped by the telecomm and I picked up calling and wifi cards.

On arrival I phoned my one true love – she was glad to hear from me.

I bought 500 mb for the internet wifi.

I have a lot of pictures to show you of my new kitty – I’ll pick her up on the way back through Calgary. However, you’ll have to wait for now – 500 mb could be just a few kitty pictures.

There are only 400 people on Mangaia, so I don’t think they get much traveller business.

Ura told me that over Christmas, so many people come home for the holidays that the population balloons to 700.

Ura left me a fruit plate to eat for lunch – fresh papaya and pineapple. This is the taste I’ve been missing.

I’m at that state where I’m so exhausted that I can’t sleep.

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