Island Life

Rarotonga is 32km in circumference and has about 13,000 residents. There are no traffic lights and only one roundabout in “downtown” Avarua. The buses don’t list a destination but go one of two ways- “clockwise” or “anti-clockwise”. There is one flight per week from LAX and an average of 300 visitors per day. A motorbike ride around the entire island would take 45 minutes if you don’t stop. However, I am going down every side road or path to hunt for waves…much to Nug’s delight. She is a good sport but that is easy as we find crystal clear lagoons, palm trees, beach bars, and empty nooks everywhere. One particular road takes us to a beautiful waterfall and the Cross Island Track that our hotel manager had stressed would be well worth the effort. It leads to a ridge that offers 270 degree views of the island and contrasting lagoon. The manager and sign recommend that you take the trail with an experienced guide. Once we are there however, I am too excited and tell Nug, “Don’t worry, I’m sure it is easy.” We proceed to get hopelessly lost after about an hour. We were told that we would need to cross a river twice on our tramp but after crossing the 7th or 8th time I am about to admit defeat when we stumble upon a French couple who was in the same predicament. We devised a plan where each of us would go down a different path and when one of us found the next trail marker we would yell out to the rest of the group. With some team work and patience the 4 of us are able to get back on track and make it to “The Needle” which is stunning as promised.

On the bike ride home we pass a sign that states “Matutu Brewery: Visitors Welcome”. I had had their Pale Ale with dinner the night before and it was amazing. I have to see where this stuff is born! We pull into what appears to be someone’s yard. There is an old garage behind the house with a Matutu logo above the door. If I hadn’t drank the beer the night before I would have been extremely skeptical. There is a massive islander in the garage and he greets us heartily. He started the operation 5 years ago and it is essentially a one man outfit. He pours us some freshies right out of the tank and goes into great detail about how he got started brewing. Someone comes by with an empty 3 liter juice container and pays to have it filled. I am still in shock that a brew this good is coming out of an old workshop.

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