We’re definitely beginning to feel some of the chill of the Austral winter here in the Cooks. We had a front roll through yesterday, and today has been very windy and in the 70s most of the day. It was low 60s last night, and Jason and I had to bust out the sleeping bags. We’ve become so accustomed to 85+ degree weather without a/c that I’m not sure how we’ll survive the shock when we land in NZ.

In the interest of keeping this short, since I’m typing on my iPod from a hotel bar, these are the top 5 things we’ve learned or seen in Aitutaki:

1. There are no dogs in Aitutaki. Sort of like the rumor that “there are no cats in America” in An American Tale, only here, it’s actually true. It’s quite a contrast to the 100s of unsterilized strays we met throughout Polynesia. Rumor has it folks thought they brought leprosy back in the day, and the law banning them simply has no impetus for repeal at this point.

2. There is such a thing as a calico piglet. I thought it was a kitten in the bushes at first, but then it looked up, and it’s face most definitely included a snout. It had orange, black, brown and white patches all over.

3. Anchoring fore and aft in a narrow channel with short scope to avoid sideways play has its drawbacks. When the front blew through night before last, Jason noticed Tahina dragging. She was nearly on the reef, which was less than 1′ deep. In the driving rain and wind, with 3+ knots of current and a moonless night, we got her reset, but only after the reef taxed her for about 3″ of her port side keel. Lucky for us it was in a solid fiberglass section of the keel, and we did not puncture anything that will need immediate attention.

Clams

Giant clams being bred at the Marine Research Center

4. There are folks out there who still believe WWF is real. We spent an afternoon at the Marine Research Center, which spawns and releases giant clams into the wild, as well as assisting in the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles, and as we turned to leave, our guide Joe informed us he had one question before we left: “Is wrestling real?”

It turns out that Joe and a number of his friends all gather at his house to watch wrestling on SkyTV, and there is a heated debate amongst them about the veracity of the sport. We were sorry to burst his bubble, buy we hope he and his friends can continue to enjoy it for entertainment’s sake anyway.

Sign protesting Sunday flights

Sign protesting Sunday flights

5. The sabbath remains a strictly sacred day of rest in this little corner of the world. Air Rarotonga recently began running flights in and out of Aitutaki on Sundays, and though the Cook Islanders are generally very welcoming, there are signs posted all over the island that say things like, “If you can’t come Monday to Saturday, then stay home. NO SUNDAY FLIGHTS!”

It’s been nice having English to help us chat more with the locals. I feel like we see and understand more, and more quickly. The accent and the money here are both New Zealand, so we know we’re getting closer every day.

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