Blame it on the rain (she wrote, trying not to provoke a Milli Vanilli cyber sing-along) but today I’m cheered by looking back at photos of fun signs and t-shirts from Rarotonga.  They remind me of the Rartongan people we met- friendly, funny people who are quick to laugh, love to tease, and use the word “cheeky” to describe each other.

Rarotonga’s a small island, and while riding around the island via the main road (less than an hour), shopping in the market, and going out to eat, we saw plenty that cracked us up.

First, it’s impossible to miss the road signs, where the messages are important and spot-on, and the way they’re expressed makes them funny:

And then there are the self-deprecating jokes on t-shirts.  Rarotongans don’t take themselves too seriously to have a laugh at others’ perceptions…or misperceptions:

that's what we said!

And finally the signs in restaurants…we’re all fair game:

oh my!

what a sucker

Have photos of funny signs from places you’ve been? We’d love to see them! Feel free to share them on our Facebook page!

It’s true that you don’t need to go to Rarotonga to enjoy a great sunset.  In fact, in most parts of the world you could even just stay home and watch the sun set every day.  But how often do you do that?

Sunset from Rarotonga Backpackers Beachside

I honestly, unfortunately,  can’t remember the last time we took the time to do that at home- just pull up a front row seat to watch a glorious end of a day.  Sure, there are times when, while taking a walk or driving in the car, we’ll happen to catch sight of a beautifully lit sky and take note of how the twilight colors objects so well.

Maybe it’ll be remarkable enough to share aloud or prompt us to fumble to find a camera quickly as it passes from view, buried behind skyscrapers, trees, and such.  But more often than not, it’s barely a passing thought- like today.  The sun is setting as I write this.

Yet somehow, while traveling, we make the time.  Especially while traveling to beach locales.  Our pace is slowed and whatever we’ve chosen to do with our day is put aside to sit and watch the final hour of daylight come to pass.

Rarotonga is the kind of place that naturally promotes in it’s visitors taking time to enjoy sunsets and stillness.  It runs on island time.  And while I’d be hard-pressed to say whether they have the best sunsets you could ever see, they certainly are beautiful even on a cloudy day.  And their beauty is magnified by what they symbolize- us taking the time, nearly every day, to enjoy them.

Arriving to RAR by plane felt like arriving to a party at which we were part of a group of honored guests. We landed at sunrise, stepped onto the tarmac and into the small airport ready to deal with the normally tedious task of going through customs.  But, there with his voice and a ukulele, was 70 year-old native Jake Numanga to serenade we new arrivals to Rarotonga from atop the baggage carousel.  And there he stayed and played until the last people (we) left the airport.

We’ve traveled quite a bit, arrived and passed through so many airports, and this was a first.  I was intrigued, and asked others about him during our stay.  Some refer to him as “Uncle” and say that no matter what time of the day or night, he can be found at the airport welcoming and bidding farewell to visitors, and that he’s done it for as long as they can remember.

Jake Numanga welcomes visitors

Jake was kind enough to talk with me before we boarded our flight back to the U.S.  Continue reading »

We’re leaving tomorrow morning for a place that I confess I knew nothing about two weeks ago.

Francisco and I had spent nights, and I mean nights, on dueling computers trying to find a flight we were willing to pay for…to anywhere warm.  We usually travel for much longer than two weeks at a time, when paying for higher priced flights (if you can’t find a deal) pays itself off in time spent abroad.  But this time it’s two weeks.  None of our old tricks were working, we were grouchy, and our vacation planning was taking the fun right out of the idea.  What the hell? How could it be that we were so incredibly flexible and yet we couldn’t find any deals except to the Caribbean in the height of the hurricane season?

The Caribbean is really inexpensive right now, and we’re pretty adventurous.  But we’ve had a not-so-great summer here in the Bay Area, and with only two weeks we’re not in a gambling state of mind.  We want some sunshine with our ocean and sand.

We were ready to give up on the bargain hunting and plunk down the big bucks when the Air New Zealand sale came up with Rarotonga as one of the destinations.  “Where the hell is Rarotonga?!” was followed by a quick info & image search that told us everything we needed to know.  We could go to this beautiful place in the Cook Islands with great weather, turquoise water, white sand, jungle, and some backpacker-friendly lodging, for half the price of anything else we’d found.

So now we’re about to experience an island that wouldn’t have made our list of places to visit because we had no idea it existed two weeks ago.  I love happy accidents, so here’s hoping that something that wasn’t even on the radar becomes a new favorite.

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