I think I’ve caught island fever over the last week, aka the strong desire to get off of this sleepy island in the middle of nowhere and be in a bigger city with LIGHTS! NOISE! BUSTLE!, however since this isn’t happening for at least the next few months, I thought I’d take a step back and remind myself (and fill my readers in) on what I love about living here:
1. The weather
Rarotonga lies 22 degrees celsius below the equator, making this island very much a tropical paradise. Volcanic in origin, the lush green mountains are oftentimes covered in mist and the sun shines at least 5-6 days a week. I haven’t worn shoes in the last 6 months (unless I’m hiking up aforementioned mountains) and if I’m cold I wear a cotton sweater. This is a big deal for my Canadian self – no down, wool or fleece has touched this body since 2012!
2. The food and water
Although Rarotonga is expensive, the food here is fabulous, especially the local produce and fish. Just today I had a fresh pawpaw and watermelon smoothie and some string beans and albacore tuna, grilled with black peppercorn and drizzled in fresh coconut cream. You will never see food advertised as ‘local’ or ‘organic’ because it all basically is. I know the pawpaw I just ate came from within a 0.5 km radius of my house. Of course this point can’t be made without mentioning the ‘nu’ or fresh young coconut water, ‘nature’s gatorade’. I used to drink this stuff from cartons in health food stores back in Toronto – now I panic if the coconut was plucked from the tree over an hour ago…
I also have to mention the water – in Toronto I found the water extremely chlorinated and full of fluoride, which has been shown to be detrimental to our health (even though dentists recommend it). You can decide for yourself by filtering through all the conflicting information about it.The water in Raro is filtered and UV treated, but nothing is added to it in terms of chemicals. This might change with the Te Mato Vai water pipeline project that’s supposedly in the works, but for now I enjoy the mountain-spring water that I fill up my 30L bottle with from down the street at the community filter.
3. The general lack of materialism
Although I’m sure materialism is happening here in full force in certain circles (i.e. all the locals who crave a huge Toyota truck), I just haven’t experienced it like I have in other parts of the world. I’ve been feeling the shopping bug lately and the need to consume, so I found this article online that calmed me down and helped put things in perspective. A good walk up the mountains with the dogs always reminds me that I don’t need much to have a good time anyways!
4. Riding a motorbike
After the fiasco of failing my first driver’s test, I really appreciate the fact that I have a license now, and driving around the island with the wind whipping my hair (making it a giant tangled dreadlock) and sun on my shoulders is something that feels totally natural now. So, it’s important for me to remember how awesome it is and the fact that everywhere else in the world I’d be forced to wear a helmet. See, the locals here fought a proposal to make wearing helmets law, but they fought it on the grounds that it would be disruptive to the woven hats worn to church on Sundays and also to the custom of wearing flowers in the hair – no one wants a crumpled flower sticking out of their hair!
5. Space and time for creative projects
This isn’t necessarily about Rarotonga, but about the change in lifestyle and amount of time I have to myself on a regular basis. I work part time now, so I have stretches of time where I have the ability to think about what I want to work on – within myself and for future business ideas. I had a friend in Toronto ask me once ‘So, what creative projects are you working on?’ and I had no idea what she was talking about. I think I replied that I was just working and trying to stay alive. I look back on that moment and realize I totally get where she was coming from.