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The Cook Islands

Sunday, October 7th

- landed at RAR and piled into our 2 mini-vans that were waiting for us

- checked into our Airbnb house and met Dwayne / Lemonade the cat who was there waiting for us

- dropped Heather & Trenton off at their Airbnb across the road and went to the Super Brown for some snacks and water

- Chris, Steve, and Ike went for a drive around the island and checked out Muri Lagoon

- got ready for our SUP Yoga tour.

- went for lunch at Deli-licious cafe and introduced to Cook Island prices

- sat on the beach while we waited for our SUP Yoga tour to start

- the SUP Yoga tour begins: we paddled out into Muri lagooon - it began to rain but it was a nice warm rain. At the end of the lagoon, we stopped and roped our paddleboards together. We attempted various yoga moves. Fell in the water a few times. Ike lost his Yeti cooler. It started raining harder, but it didn't matter. Ike attempted a few headstands on his board. Hoa would later call the whole experience 'transformative'.

- that night we went to the Muri Night Market for dinner. We were a little late as it seemed most vendors were sold out of things. Chris had a fish curry, while I had butter chicken.

- tried to go to Coco Putt but the road was closed, so we just went to the airport to pick up Jana.

- at the airport, Ryan was accosted by a strange dog who fell madly in love with his leg a few times. This provided a lot of laughter for Ike and Mike.

Monday, October 8th

- went for breakfast at Cafe Salsa and then to the grocery store to pick up supplies for Thanksgiving dinner

- stopped at a little farmer market stand on the way home to buy cucumber and papaya

- dropped off the groceries and headed to Titikaveka beach. Blew up the raft and tried to make a paddle the traditional way out of wood, and tied together with a palm frond, but failed. We had to use our snorkel fins instead.

- went on an expedition in the raft. Tried to go snorkeling but Chris's new snorkel mask failed her.

- the rest of the crew showed up. Played frisbee with the local beach dogs.

- tried to go to the Matutu Brewery, but it looked derelict and closed, despite the fancy sign they had on the road.

- so instead we went and did a chocolate and fruit-wine tasting. We learned about the chocolate making process, and tried some delicious chocolate made out of pure cocoa beans. We all wanted to buy chocolate bars, but they only make 8 bars a week and they weren't for sale until Friday. The fruit wines were interesting, made out of banana, red banana, and some sort of spicy one. Some were better than others.

- came back to the house and we all pitched in to make thanksgiving dinner. Ike made tuna (despite people being skeptical), Steve made delicious chicken, Chris made a salad, Mike & Paulina made green beans, Heather made potatoes, and Ryan washed dishes.

- after dinner, things started getting a little rowdy. The music was blaring. The pool was put to good use, with a few competitions, including breath holding.

Tuesday, October 9th

- the next day, a few of us more hungover than others, we all went on the hike (except for Mike who had hurt his back).

- we parked one of the vans at the south end, and started the hike at the north end of the island. We made it up to the needle, the viewpoint in the middle of the island. Had to climb up some ropes to get up to the very top, and had a pretty good view of parts of the lsland, right out to the water.

- stopped at the Rarotonga Brewery on the way home and sampled their beers.

- back at the house, we were all starving, so we ordered 8 pizzas from Kai Pizza. While we were waiting, whales started popping up off shore in view from our deck. They were putting on a great show, and Chris and I saw whales breeching for the first time.

- a lot of us went to bed early on this night, tired from both the hike and the night before.

Wednesday, October 10th

- went to Aroa beach in the SW and snorkeled. Some pretty great snorkeling here, and we borrowed Trenton's mask so Chris and I could both snorkel.

- the other crew showed up, and I went out snorkeling again. Ate some chicken on the beach.

- stopped at the Islander hotel / Hula Bar on the way home and had some drinks on the beach patio.

- walked to the Tamarind House and had a really nice dinner. Coconut brie for an appetizer. The Chris's had island lasagna made with local vegetables. Sticky chocolate tofee for dessert.

- at this point some of us went home and played Codenames, while the other half went to Rehab, a local nightclub. The nightclub was dead when we walked in, but they promised it would pick up. They weren't lieing, as it did actually get very busy. The music was fairly terrible, essentially a bad wedding DJ playlist, but it was pretty fun. The nightclubs in Rarotonga close at midnight, at which point they bring out the whistles to get everyone to evacuate quickly.

Thursday, October 11th

- went and did the Te Ramu hike that was recommended to us. It was short and steep, with some good views. We ran into a couple from Cochrane. There were some more rope climbing sections involved.

- went for lunch at Beluga, which may have been the best food of the trip.

- went to Black Rock beach. Waded out into the water, and spotted some more whales. We climbed up the black rock formations and watched the whales in the distance with our binoculars.

- attemped to get 'jet blasted' but planes were taking off from the wrong end of the runway, due to the wind direction.

- showed up at Ariki adventures for night SUPing. Paddled over to the island at the end of Muri lagoon. It was a little cold and the water was a little choppy. Had a crab race and learned a few things about the local culture. Then we had a paddle board race and tried to paddle out to where the break was, but the water was really choppy.

- went to the night market again for dinner

Friday, October 12th

- te kou hike. It started off being gradual, but it got pretty steep with a series of rope sections for the last half of the hike. We made it to the volanic crater, and took in our third day in a row of views of the island, this time on the north side.

- charlie's cafe for lunch

- The Chris's, Jana, and Hoa went kayaking in the windy water. It was cool to see the break up close.

- checked out of our airbnb, tried to watch the sunset from Black Rock beach but it was too cloudy

- went for dinner at the Lazy Trout. Chris had a worm in her salad. Free meal for her!

- made one last attempt at a jet blast, but we were a little too late.