Culture, Culture, and more Culture
By: Lauren M.
The first half of today was the same old, same old: research and great conversations with locals. We know our way around town pretty well now, which is nice. We also did some last minute souvenir shopping because the shops will not be open tomorrow because of Ariki Day.
We partnered up and went off and did our own thing, and then met back for check in at 1pm. After check in some of us went to the beach and others hung out at the house. Once we all reconvened, the event of the day began! We piled up in the van and headed down to the Cultural Center.
You are not going to believe me when I tell you, maybe you are because it happens all the time, but we met a grey dog while waiting for the tour to start. We have to stick with tradition, of course, and dubbed the dog street dog.
The tour was amazing! I feel like I have been using the word “amazing” too much, but truly everything on this island is an experience none of us have had before. We were directed into different huts throughout the makeshift village they built for the tour. The first stop a man told us about a sacred spot called marae where the Chiefs of the Island met. The second stop a woman gave us some background on how the Islands came to be called the Cook Islands. She also gave us a sneak peak at some of the weapons the Islands ancestors used before and after the Mercenaries came.
Something I think is important to make clear, and something us adventurers were even corrected on, the Mercenaries came to the Cook Islands to convert the local people into Christians. Our first thought was that they invaded, but in actuality when they came all the Islands were at war and when Christianity became the main religion, peace was brought throughout the many Islands.
The third stop was a fun stop. The man told us about the different types of oysters and fishing tools, but it was his energy that brought the information to life. He was funny and enthusiastic about what he was teaching us, not that everyone else was dull, but you could tell this man was having fun. Which made learning what he was teaching us all the more valuable.
The fourth stop, and here I would like to give another shout out to adventurer Melissa, involved teaching us about the different materials to weave baskets, clothes, and traditional costumes. A shout out goes to Melissa because she happily volunteered to try on a grass skirt and coconut bra to model for us. There may have also been dancing, what am I kidding, there is always dancing!
Our fifth and final stop consisted of many things because it brought the close to our tour. We were fortunate enough to watch a local man open up a coconut with a sharp stick, and an added bonus because he climbed a coconut tree all the way to the top!
Once the tour came to a close, we hustled back to the van, ready to go home and eat dinner. Jake, Sabrina, Jamie, Brett, and I stayed behind because we wanted to check out the Night Market. We happily ordered some food, and listened to the live music, before heading back to the house to meet everyone else for dinner.
Tomorrow is the long awaited Ariki Day! Most of us will attend because tomorrow morning a couple of our adventurers are going scuba diving for the first time, and even more adventurers are going snorkeling! I will keep you all posted on their adventures in tomorrow’s post, but for now enjoy the pictures taken by Jamie while we were waiting for the cultural tour to begin.