I just finished my two-week long mid-semester break last weekend, and it was incredible. I jumped into the break by getting on a plane to Roratonga, one of the bigger islands that is part of the Cook Islands. This was a trip with IES Abroad.
Every day of this trip was packed with activities, which is my favorite way to travel. The first day we were there we were exposed to some of the cultural aspects of the Cook Islands. We made sarongs with some of the local people. These are pieces of fabric with beautiful designs that can be worn as skirts, dresses, or shirts. We made ours by taking a piece of fabric and laying it on wood that was pre-carved. Then we took some paint and rolled it over fabric, which left a beautiful pattern on the cloth.
We then learned how to weave plates out of leaves from coconut trees. These plates were what we used for dinner that night. Once our sarongs were dry, we put them on and learned some of the local dance moves. We tried our best but none of us could dance as well as the Cook Islanders.
Later that day we learned all there is to know about a coconut. We had a coconut-husking competition, learned how to crack them open with just a rock, and drank lots of coconut juice.
Later that night we gathered with our sarongs and plates for a traditional meal. I tried the taro root for the first time, a Cook Islands classic. I really enjoyed getting to know the culture on our first day. It helped me have a deeper understanding of the rest of the activities we did throughout the trip.
One of my favorite activities was doing the cross-island walk. This was a 6 km walk through thick forest areas. The way up to the peak was steep uphill. Once we got to the top we saw the needle rock. It jutted out so high into the air and we got to venture up to it. From there we made our way down, which our guide described as an exercise in yoga and balance as we climbed through trees and across rocks. It was a beautiful hike and cool to see the island from a new perspective.
I was also lucky enough to SCUBA dive while I was there. This was my first real SCUBA dive outside of my certification, and it could not have been better. We were able to see the beautiful corals and unique fish, and at the end of the dive spotted a sea turtle!
Those are just some of the highlights for this amazing trip!
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<p>I am a biomedical engineering major and a studio art minor. I play field hockey for the University of Rochester and I love to exercise and be outdoors. If I'm not playing field hockey my exercise of choice is running, Crossfit, waterskiing, wakeboarding, skiing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and anything else that gets me outside.</p>