Friday, April 11th, 2014
By Chelsea McBroom
Wednesday April 9th, 2014
It was a bright sunny day in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, a bit windier than usual and people were kite surfing along the shore closer to town. The beach stretched into town and the waves could be heard crashing with the sounds of traffic.
Pania, Maria, Lily and I, crew of the Picton Castle, were walking down the main road, looking for a place to get lunch, when Jenny and Mary drove by on a scooter. Jenny and Mary are a mother and daughter that sailed with the ship from Rarotonga to Palmerston last year. When Mary recognized Pania with glee, she waved wildly at us grinning.
The majority of locals here drive scooters – sometimes I even see adults driving with children no older than two years old on the back. Tourists often make the mistake of renting them and thinking they’re invincible but the locals seem to be used to it.
The only thing that seemed to be open was the Rarotonga Fried Chicken place which was inside a warehouse. We stopped there and sat at a picnic table to eat our fried chicken or fried fish. Jenny and Mary pulled into the driveway and came to chat with us. It was clear they had fond memories of their experience with the ship and they gave us each a hug in greeting and asked about our journey so far. Mary spends much of her time volunteering at the whale museum and spoke to us freely and with maturity. They live in Rarotonga now and love it – the only oddity being the amount of stray dogs around.
During the day the dogs were hardly noticed and seemed to run around independently. Maria, who’d been my purser assistant, and Lily our cook, like to go for runs in the evenings. Now and then they would have to pass a group of dogs and did what they were told to do and stooped down for a rock or pretended to throw one in their direction if they came near. They’d scatter immediately. The dogs are often entertained by the many wild chickens that wander through the town.
When our wild dog stories, or recollections of sailing French Polynesia were shared and the food had disappeared, Mary and Jenny said their goodbyes, saying how good it was to meet us, hoping to see us again, and got back on their bike and drove away.