21 Sep Rarotonga, Cook Islands – September 11 to 21, 2002
Well here we are, back in Raro for the third time; Don and I have lots of friends here. One of the first things that we do is search out our friend, June Baudinet. We invite her to dinner on our second night in town and catch up on what’s been happening in Raro. In addition to running her business, Raina Trading, she has been busy building a small group of deluxe bungalows on family land on the beach on the west coast of the island. She takes us for an island tour on Saturday and we learn not only history of Rarotonga, but stories about the political situation on the island as only an active local knows it. Driving on the back roads near her home on the opposite side of the island I spot a tree with beautiful golden fruit, the size of a grown man’s hand, hanging from the boughs. Is that star fruit? Yes, the biggest, most juicy, most delicious star fruit we have ever seen. The tree belongs to one of June’s relatives, so we pick a bag full. We think that star fruit sorbet is maybe the best that we have ever eaten, but we’re not sure. Maybe it was the marquesan apple sorbet, or the fresh mango sorbet, or the soursop sorbet? We’re just not sure.
Colin, in the meantime looked up an old friend from the 60’s, Johnny Frisbie. Don and I met Johnny last year; she runs the library and its adjoining museum. Colin met Johnny on the beaches of Waikiki on his return trip from the South Pacific on Wild Goose. Johnny and her sister, Naa, were the belles of Waikiki in those days, hanging out with Duke K and the surfers. At that time she was promoting her book, The Frisbies of the South Pacific, which tells the story of her American father coming to Puka Puka and marrying her mother. Her mother died when Johnny was young and the book describes the adventures of Johnny, her brother and sisters growing up on various islands and surviving a hurricane on the island of Suwarrow because her father tied them all to trees. We have Johnny and her teen-age granddaughter over to Starr.
We also spend time with our “boatie” friends who are also moored in the harbor: John and Amanda-Swan Neal on Mahina (from Friday Harbor); Rick and Elkie Cunningham on Mithrandir (from Canada and Austria) ; Kirk, Deb, Braden and Grady on Shoop (from Wyoming) and Elaine and Mehmet Selis (from America and Turkey) on Boncuk.
Colin, Manio and I explore the town and have moca shakes at The Cafe. Manio buys pipi pearls (small natural pearls found only in the Cook Islands), we rent a car and go to church at Titikaveka, in June’s neighborhood on the far side of the island and have lunch at the Sailing Club. We visit both museums, the smaller one at the library and the bigger National Museum close by. We like Johnny’s museum best. Colin and I buy books at the University of the South Pacific and check out Johnny’s book, now out of print, at the library. June brings us a huge bag of papayas. Finally the week in Raro is up, and Tuesday night (Sept. 18) Colin and Manio head back to Tahiti to spend time at their house on the beach and with Manio’s family. We had the best time together.
Sept. 20 – Our friend, Don Fiel arrives Thursday morning. He is a commercial boat captain who worked in Tahiti for several years, running a charter boat around the Society Islands. He will stay in Raro and “boatsit” while Don and I go home. His first night in Raro, we go out to a local restaurant, The Staircase, for dinner and a dance show. Johnny suggested that we go and joined us for the evening. The restaurant is small and intimate and the crowd is a nice mix of tourists and locals. The dinner is local Rarotongan food and the dancing is very good.
Sept. 21 – Don and I fly home. In LAX we learn that my dad died at Bayview Manor, the nursing home where he was living. Dad had been ill for some time and his death was anticipated. We tried to get home on an earlier flight with no success and I felt very sad that I couldn’t be there with him when he died. Don’s mother was with him just before he died and told me that it was a peaceful death. The caregivers at Bayview took very good care of dad; they were his friends and they really cared about him. Thank you.