After 4 years of living on and off this magical island, I too am guilty of going a day or two without making the most of where I am and I forget how lucky I am for being welcomed into this stunning island community. But, to be fair, that doesn’t last long! There is nothing I love more than jumping on my scooter and making my merry way to the beach, whilst waving frantically at the smiling faces I drive past. I mean, it may be different for me as I had never been to this part of the world before, so the novelty of being on a little South Pacific island hasn’t quite worn off yet. There are days where I will make it my mission to ‘be a tourist’, purely because I feel it is so important to remember how lucky I am to live on such a sensational island.
I actually envy the visitors who get off each plane and step foot in the Cook Islands for the first time. It is so awesome seeing their reactions to the beaches, mountains and how they are taken in by the ever-warming ‘Kia Orana’ spirit of the locals. As much as I love doing everything I can to promote these little islands that have stolen my heart, the most rewarding aspect of working for Cook Islands Tourism is hosting the famils! Not only do you get to witness travel agents and media reps fall in love with our little paradise, and then go on to spread the word, but, and this is my favourite part, you get to see the island through their eyes, as though it was the first time.
This happened to me a few of weeks ago, when I was hosting a TV crew from Australia. The Sydney Weekender were on Rarotonga for 6 days, filming segments for three upcoming episodes on the Cook Islands. As well as getting to do a number of the fabulous tours and activities Rarotonga has to offer, we spent a lot of time driving. We must have driven around the island at least 10 times, as the producer wanted to get as much overlay footage of the island as possible. With every loop of the island we did, we came across little things that just encompasses how special the Cook Islands are; whether it was running and jumping off the Avana jetty, waving at the cute kids sitting outside the Titikaveka CICC church or stopping to say hi to Christmas, the super friendly pig Arorangi.
But, the one that took the prize for the most gorgeous and humbling thing in Rarotonga was in a sweet little fruit stand on the main road. On the table, perfectly nestled between bananas and pareus, sat an unlocked box, with 2 words written on it…Honesty Box. I mean seriously, is that just the epitome of the Cook Islands? My heart melted and I was so happy that this was captured by the TV crew, because the world needs to know how special this place is. We live in such a beautiful place. So, the next time you are feeling stressed from work, tired or just generally not in a happy mood, I suggest you take a moment and look around at where you are.
Stop and smell the Tipani!