Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Travel Blogging, Part V

Greetings from beautiful Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. It is spring here and the climate is exactly what you would ask for if you had a choice: shirtsleeves temperature and a light breeze. Somewhat humid but not too bad. I suppose this isn't exactly paradise, but it will do till something better comes along. It is Polynesia without the French accent and 'culture.' Instead the locals have a lovely clipped crypto-Brit accent. AND, it really hasn't been discovered like Bora Bora and Tahiti so there are miles of empty beaches you can walk on without paying hotel rent.

Their secret is that by law no family is allowed to sell land, EVER. They can rent it to you for up to 50 years at a crack but cannot sell it. The absolute only way to ever own land here is to inherit it or marry it. "Raro," as locals call it, is much less down-at-the-heels than other Pacific islands of our acquaintance. The place was a New Zealand dependency for many years and has been more-or-less independent for four years. They still use the NZ $ and rely on EnZed for defense and foreign representation. The Cook Islands remain a part of the Commonwealth and probably have Queen Elizabeth II on their stamps, I haven't had occasion to mail anything.

Our onboard lectures have been going well, and are very well attended in the big theater. Apparently my mix of geography, politics, and travelogue works for this audience - I am glad. Our next stop is in American Samoa, Pago Pago I believe. We are wondering if our Verizon cell phones and aircard will work there since it is a part of the U.S. I'm not holding my breath, but will let you know later.

Crossing the Equator was fun but not traumatic, they got four volunteers to be the "polywogs" and they got 'shampooed' with stuff like raw eggs and spaghetti and flour. The rest of us watched and laughed but now all of us are "shellbacks," that is, people who have sailed across the Equator on a ship.

As old cruising hands say, I wish you all fair winds and following seas.