The Cook Islands are a tiny set of 15 tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific ocean. They happened to be named in honour of Captain Cook who managed to stumble across the Islands when he was on his way to New Zealand and Australia during 1773. Which is pretty impressive really. They are a few tiny spots in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
Rarotonga, the largest of the Islands is only around 9km in diameter. Its only main road, which circumvents the island, is only some 32km long. Its home to some 9,000 people which is less than you'll find attending Brentford United Football Club, the closest to my london home, on a Saturday afternoon. And last time I checked, Brentford were languishing in the lower tables of the English Football League. I even had the pleasure of watching the Cook Island news this evening, with the headline being 'A tourists camera was stolen from a parked motorbike in town this afternoon. A canon IXUS which is silver and looks like this...' Yes this is a pretty small place.
The Queens Representatives residence. Not a bad job if you can get it!
I have to say, however, that I am in Paradise. It balmy climate, white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and tropical reef make it an ideal place to unwind before facing the rigours of work. Which is exactly why I am here.
That said its done nothing by rain while I have been here. Which, in a strange way, is proving to be a perfect relaxation tonic. Top it with some excellent Windsurfing and a rather nice hostel, I don't want to leave. That has put paid to my plans to visit some of the other islands in the cook islands.
The first thing I did when I arrived was to hire a Scooter to get around. To do this I had to apply for a Cook Islands driving licence. This involved driving five metres down the road without falling over, at which point the officer presented me with a rather posh looking plastic driving licence, complete with my photo on it. Apparently, if I had fallen over, I would have been given another chance, and then another chance, until I got it right. Oh and I did have to line the Cook Islands coffers with a $20 note for the privilege.
I then went for a drive around the Island, sticking to the 50 km/h speed limit which is actually only 40km/h if you don't wear a helmet. Which is irrelevant as no-one wears one and there must be only a few on the island. It didn't take long to get around:
And as a result, being a small dot in the Pacific, you won't find the prairie plains of Iowa here. Most things have to be imported, such as fresh milk, which costs a whopping $10 a pint. So I stuck to UHT which is only $3 a pint.
I've also worked out that every time I search the internet, I've realise that I am in fact searching for google.co.ck. Thankfully I've not been inundated by a Porn storm just yet, but it still does makes me smile every time I log on. Speaking of surfing, the reef breaks here are pretty spectacular. Quin, a fellow traveler, who just happens to only be traveling in the cook islands, seems to be be getting a scar a day as he rides the waves and hits the reef. My next break is an Air New Zealand flight to San Francisco, to rejoin the working world on my way back to San Francisco.