cook islands: aitutaki
The thing to do in Aitutaki is the lagoon cruise and as I was waiting to be picked up to head off on mine, “please don’t be all couples…please don’t be all couples,” kept repeating in my head. My prayers must have been heard as I was on a cruise with nearly all singles on an island full of honeymooners – amazing, I know!
We were seated on an immensely small boat with girls in the front and boys in the back as we set off to explore the lagoon. The first stop was to go snorkelling with the fish. OH NO, before I could control it, the panic snorkeler in me struck again! I was looking at the size of the fish and saying, mmm, maybe I’ll sit this one out and give it a go at the next location. Amazingly, Te King, our fearless leader/tour guide, was having none of my drama and the next thing I knew, the flippers were on my feet, the mask was secured to my face, and he was pushing me off the boat. With a death grip, I clung to the boat for dear life as the biggest fish of the bunch rushed me from below. This guy was bigger than me, the ugliest one of them all, and if Disney has taught me anything it’s that this guy was built to be mean! I may have whimpered something along the lines of “OMG, the big one is going to get me,” but Te King was having none of it as he repeatedly told me it was all in my head while unlocking my death grip on the boat with ease.
I would like to say that it was smooth sailing from this point onwards but it sadly, it wasn’t. I think that bloody giant/ugly fish was circling me like pray in the water but thankfully nothing happened. I may have been panicky and not hiding it well but I got into the water long enough to have a decent poke around and swim with the fishies. Yes, I may have shut my eyes every once in a while to regain composure but give me a break, nobody’s perfect.
Other than my high maintenance drama queen moment – the day was spectacular. I was out with a bunch of singles supportive of my panicky snorkeler ways and it’s just what the doctor ordered. We stopped at other snorkelling destinations as my new-found friends took turns holding my hand and offering words of encouragement to put me at ease. Aside from all the intense snorkeling, we found ourselves on some of the islands for history lessons, a lunch, and just some free time to muck about and explore. I made new friends and we all had a good laugh over a sunset dinner where we rehashed the moments on the lagoon as well as complained about our aching sunburnt bodies. As for me and my desire to become a confident snorkeler, it’s still a work in progress but it was a nice ego boost when Te King and then rest of the group told me how proud they were of me to get out of my head and into the water.
It was Day 1 in Aitutaki and after a quick tour of the island I was left to my own devices. Considering it was a gorgeous day, it seemed only right to go have a wonder so with my camera in hand, I set off to see what trouble I could get myself into. I strolled along the beach for a bit and just as I was starting to feel snacky, I noticed a sign for an organic cafe (Tauono’s Garden Cafe just encase you’re wondering) and thought why not. I left the beach and walked up the path only to find that the place was jam-packed. Everyone was seated in a little garden outside with a chalkboard that had the 3 specials for the day. As there weren’t any empty seats in the house, I was told to squeeze in with a local and 2 other tourists as it doesn’t hurt to make new friends.
Turns out this little organic cafe I stumbled upon was a big deal. Everything was homemade and all the ingredients for the daily specials came from the garden. Just encase you’re wondering, for my meal I choose the breadfruit lasagna and a glass of lemonade. What came out to me were 3 plates of food along with a freshly squeezed glass of lemonade. As far as the plates of food go, there was the breadfruit lasagna with leaves and flowers (all editable and supposedly the same amount of Vitamin C as 2 oranges) while the 2nd plate contained a star fruit salsa, a garden salad with marinated carrots, and finally a small 3rdone for the spicy banana. All in all, the cafe was an excellent find as the food was amazing even if it was more than I could eat in one sitting.