Rarotonga Mid-Semester Break Pt. 2

After my first two days in Rarotonga, we went to a church service to see exactly how Cook Islanders practiced their religion (since it has a large influence in the Cooks).  To my surprise (though looking back, it seems quite obvious) the majority of the service held in the large stone building was held in Cook Island Maori.  The service didn’t differ very much from a service that you would find in the States, except the day that we went there was a “youth presentation” day – where youth groups from around the island did presentations on various topics.

After the service we went to go snorkeling, which was nothing short of amazing.  The water was unbelievably clear, like it was something out of a book.  The sea creatures were incredible as well, as we got to see lots of varieties of fish, eel, and some cool bottom-feeders.  Once we were done there, we walked up the road to go miniature golfing to end the night.

The next day we got to visit a local elementary school (K-6) and hang out with the children.  What an awesome  day that was!  We learned some basic Cook Island Maori (interesting side note: there’s only 13 letters in the Maori language) and then we did some arts and crafts with the kids.  Together we crafted some glasses, a ring, a windmill, and a crown out of some leaves.  Afterwards my fellow IES-ers and I played with the kids, and holy cow did they tire us out.  Running around, playing tag / soccer / cops-n-robbers, and giving piggy-back rides were just some of the things that I did with them.  They loved climbing on us (my shirt probably stretched two sizes that day)  too!  All in all, it was a pretty great day.  But wait! Did I mention that I got to play some drums and learn a traditional Cookie beat?

Fellow IES-er Ali and I playing drums

Our next day started off on a high note.  We arrived early in the morning at a small building where we had a lecture on whales.  Our lecturer, Nan Hauser, was superb.  She grabbed our attention and held it there for the hour or more that she talked.  Nan described her encounters with whales, various facts (did you know that just a fin of a blue whale is larger than an average human?) and told many stories.  Everyone in the group loved her talk, and you can too!  She did an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program that will air in early October so be sure to look out for it.

The next part of our journey after the whale lecture involved trekking across the island and visiting a large stone near the center that was a landmark in the island (sitting at 14,000 feet above sea level).  The hike was kind of tiring, but really cool as we climbed up and then back down again.  Here’s a picture of our group sitting in front of The Needle: