The three things that will stick most in my memory about Rarotonga (main island in the Cook Islands Group) are free-range chickens, DIY cemeteries and sea cucumbers. Oh, and the beautiful beaches and magnificent mountains, of course.
|Chicken and Rooster in the main town on Rarotonga|
Everywhere you go around the island, chickens and roosters roam free. Some of them are very attractive looking birds, some are scrawny ones. Many of the toddlers staying here in our hotel are more taken by the chickens (and the dogs that also roam wild) than anything else. The only other birds I have seen are those blasted Indian Mynahs, which are as much (or perhaps more) of a pest as that are back in Australia.
What about these 'DIY cemeteries'? Here in the Cook Islands it is possible to bury your loved ones on your own property if you own the freehold to that property. This means that there are small family cemeteries all over the place, and even the odd grave underneath a carport-type of structure in someone's front yard! As a genealogist I'm not sure if this would find making graves easier or more difficult. One thing a guide told us, though, is that you won't find any from the 1700s or early 1800s, because at that stage the Cook Islands were still cannibals, and had not been converted by the missionaries to the need to bury the remains of their loved ones.
|Grave in the front yard|
And what about the sea cucumbers? Well, our resort here is on Muri lagoon, and all throughout the lagoon are sea cucumbers, which look like giant slugs (or something more unpleasant!). They are perfectly harmless, and actually keep the lagoon clean, and they proliferate all over the lagoon.
|Amongst the seaweed are several sea-cucumbers|
|Making local medicine on the cultural tour|
|The settlers of New Zealand set off from here|
|Some of the glorious scenery on the island|
|Barefoot Bar and Restaurant|