Oh goodness, I waited my whole life for this day to arrive. I dreamed for 46 years about a wedding on a white sand beach with the man of my dreams. How did I get so lucky? Paul is truly my best friend and someone who brightens my day every day when I look into his eyes and see his bright smile. I know it sounds a bit hokey, but it is so true.
So, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you about this wedding of ours. We got married at a lovely resort called Tamanu Beach Resort in Aitutaki, Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The resort is family owned by two brothers and our wedding planner was Jenny, the wife of one of the brothers. She was lovely and did a wonderful job making our day very special. Before we got to Aitutaki, she made sure our paperwork was in order so one of the first things we did when we got here (besides, snorkel, kayak and go to a barbeque at the resort) was go to the tiny courthouse here on the island. There are 1,500 people who live here so when I say small, I mean, really small. Anyway, the woman at the court was waiting for us. We walked up a porch, into an open door and the counter was right there. She looked at our original documents and asked us to sign the official record book. And that was it.
Continue reading 'Our Wedding Day on the Beach'»
As we’ve been making our way around some of the islands that comprise the Cook Islands – either by foot, bike or scooter – there has been a sight that has been repeated again and again. Gravestones. Single graves, pairs and occasionally several next to each other in a row. In an open field or just next to the family house. Along paved main roads, pothole ridden side streets, and even deserted washed out dirt roads. As a westerner, this is a curiosity to me.
It appears that there are several reasons for this. You see, only Cook Islanders can own land in the Cook Islands. It is their natural birthright. And the land is owned forever. If you want to own land, be a local or if you’re lucky enough – marry a local. Otherwise, you’re out of luck, you can only rent it. Land is passed down through the family. It can be subdivided and gifted to family, it can be re-sized and made into larger lots, and though it can even be bought and sold, it can only be sold to a member within the family. This way, the land stays in the family. Forever.
Continue reading 'Cook Island Cemeteries'»
Oh gosh, pinch me!!! Still can’t believe we are really here….this is amazing!!! I think I will start writing from this moment and move backwards to our arrival here on the island….at the moment, we are staying at the international backpackers hostel….it is located down the street from the beach…oh, about a 5 minute walk past some vicious dogs that, when they aren’t sleeping (most likely exhausted from threatening everyone who dares to go by their house), they bark wildly at us as we walk by…..we also pass by some white above-ground grave/tomb stones that are draped with the most fragrant leis….our road leads up to the mountains that are covered in greenery and our hostel is located on the right….the hostel is surrounded by coconut palm trees, beautiful hibiscus and other vibrant flowers and so much greenery in between. The hostel is owned by a family—Bill, Anna, their daughter, Tisa and her daughter, Letisha. This is a modest place with just the basics—our room is a square room with a comfy double bed—our windows are glass slats that we keep open to always have a nice breeze through the light, floral curtains. Each night we are lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing and each morning woken before sunrise by the roosters and birds. There are a couple of shelves for our backpacks but that is it and the ceiling is in desperate need of a paint job. Paul got creative with our wedding outfits and duct taped them to the wall. I think we have just the right amount of humidity here because they have no wrinkles and look quite lovely stuck to our wall.
Continue reading 'Bert and Patty Arrive in the Cook Islands'»
New Zealand Flight 0019. Leaving Los Angeles in the night bound for another world. The Cook Islands. We touched down in Rarotonga close to 6am. The sun had not risen yet, so it wasn’t the picturesque fantasy flight that I had hoped for. Actually, nothing about it was as I envisioned. I had envisioned arriving in daylight, eyes wide open and mouth agape as I stared out the window at the beautiful Pacific Ocean below. Rings of corol atolls and small islands would lazily float below our wings as we gracefully glided to our island. Upon leaving the plane we would be serenaded by a group of musicians with guitars and ukelales singing harmonies in local tounge while dancers in grass skirts and coconuts tops would sway their hips to the rythym and move their arms in a manner mimmicking the flow of waves in the warm turqoise sea. The ocean breeze would cool our faces in the warm tropical sun. We would be adorned with a lei and welcomed to the Island with a warm smile and a kiss on each cheek. After retrieving our backpacks, we’d seek out our driver. He would be holding a sign that read “Bert and Patty”, or “Paul & Christine”. Then we would be carried off to our beachside bungalow make of local timber and topped with a palm frond thatched rook. A tray of freshly cut local fruits adorned with colorful hibiscus and chilled champagne would we placed on the foot of our bed, celdbrating our arrival.
The actual event was much different.
Continue reading 'Rarotonga Arrival'»
Half the United States is now warming with the welcoming rising of the morning sun. Parts of Bejing are past sunset and are now falling into darkness and beginning to go to sleep. Airspeed: 881km/h. Heading: 217 degrees. Altitude: 10058m. Outside air temperature: -38*C. Current time: 2:20am, 4:20am Pacific Standard Time, 12:23pm GMT.
We’re approaching the equator now. From the tele screen embedded in the seat before me, we should cross it within the hour. It looks like we only have a millimeter or so until we cross . . . I don’t think it’s to scale though. I have always had thoughts of crossing the equator. Sailors thoughts. The sextant would reveal that we were upon the invisible divide between the hemispheres, the belt pulled tight that keeps the southern hemisphere from falling down, like a pair of pants as it were. The motor would fall silent, maybe the sails would be dropped and we’d begin to drift. Drifting silent in the vast ocean under the early morning or midday sun, the warm breeze on our cheek would be a welcome feeling and keep our spirits aloft. Rum would be passed around to all on board. There would be a speech by the captain, praising the worthiness of his vessel – a fine specimen with a valiant past – and maybe even poking fun and making jokes at the scallywags he calls crew. Laughter would roll across the decks and out across the waters surface. A toast to prosperity, adventure and bravery would conclude the speech and with cups raised high in the air and rum spilling from the brim, we’d celebrate our triumphant and glorious crossing of the equator. To celebrate crossing the equator, sailors used to pierce their ear, once for each time they crossed. A sort of badge of honor and respect. I guess I’m really glad I’m flying.
Continue reading 'Off to the Cooks ! !'»