Monday, 6 June 2011

Magic Moments: What do you remember that brings back the Magic?

Part of the joy of travelling is to see new places and then come home to a place I love because I’m the type of girl who adores her own bed. After an extensive tour of New Zealand, a drop in at Sydney (go now - don’t wait until you retire!) I ended my tour in the southern hemisphere at Cooks Island, a Polynesian paradise.

The relaxed welcome at the airport as garlands of orchids were hung around my neck, ukuleles played, as dancer’s hips swayed… it was the warmest arrival I’ve experienced. There’s no security!

I stepped into the sunshine, I accepted this was my seventh heaven, the turquoise lagoon, the white sand and a slack tide that licked the shore with a soft gentle rhythm was hypnotic. A couple walked along the beach, she was barefoot and they’d just been married. So what could spoil this idyllic spot?

Weather: A dramatic and violent change in the weather! Monsoon season arrived and in this humid environment mosquito’s banqueted on my blood. I was covered from head to foot in bites. Truly unattractive! Hotel staff were genuinely concerned and enquired if I was well, then offered advice on what to do. But I ate well the entire time we stayed, a tranquil restaurant above the stream that fed the lagoon (and more mosquitoes!)

I spent the whole first and second day reading, in a tent on the beach, drinking cocktails, listening to the rain hammer hard against the plastic canvass awning, as sitting in the apartment was less than appealing. It’s strange but in a moist sticky climate being stuck indoors in the room is no fun.

I walked everywhere barefoot and took photographs in the rain of a beautiful drenched island.

Then I decided to pamper myself so I booked a massage with the therapist. What an oasis of calm in a sodden, water logged atmosphere. She could see I was blue. I wish I could remember the combination of oils she massaged into my frustrated body as her fingers kneaded my skin, she revived my flagging spirit.

So where was the magic?

On day three, as the monsoon rains continued unabated, I went snorkelling. I’d never done this activity and wrongly thought I’d be snorkelling in the calm rock pools close to the shore as I’d seen the other do the day before.

An old glass bottom tub took us out 3kms, made its way to the barrier reef at the furthest edge of the lagoon. I got a bit twitchy. The guys showed me how to use my snorkel and then asked if I could swim? ‘Of course I can swim,’ I was indignant. But I wasn’t remotely sure how I was going to get off the boat, into the water that rose and then fell on a significant swell. In my mind jumping wasn’t an option, I’m not that brave and I couldn’t see how to achieve an elegant departure.

Eventually I clambered like a beached porpoise into the sea. Warm water relaxed my mind and body. I swum like a fish. Boy did I swim. Boy did I float! My impression of a star fish had the guys checking up on me as my inactivity scared them as much as my disappearing, swimming off into the distance. With no sense of direction their instruction to stick close to the boat was not observed by me.

The world that opened beneath my snorkel of brightly coloured inquisitive fish was amazing. I was in awe of mother nature. The strength of colour, the variety of shapes and sizes of fish. I didn’t want to get out of the water. Like a small kid at the pool I could have stayed until my skin shrivelled. When it was time to leave I was distraught but vowed I would return the next day and what about securing a full diving certificate?

That night the rain increased, the next morning it fell straight impacting the earth like heavy stair rod poles. I’ve never seen such weighty rain. The water flooded the path, overflowed the threshold of our apartment. I rang reception, ‘Sandbags please?’ The gardeners came and placed sandbags against the door-frame to stem the tide. I rang reception the water was pouring in through my floor to ceiling bedroom windows, ‘please staunch this flow? I’ve put my belongings on the bed.’ A gardener came and dug away the earth, created a trough and then quite dramatically water punched a hole, at hip height through the bedroom wall and poured in like a massive bath forcet!

I walked to reception: ‘Please move me to a dry room?’ They didn’t fully comprehend my request until the manager went to view the room that resembled a paddling pool filling with liquid brown muddy water. I moved to a dry villa.

The palm trees bent as the wind howled, the long leaves whipped into a fine brush. The rain fell. I walked to the beach. Snorkelling was cancelled. The lagoon had turned from turquoise to sludge cement grey, trees, plants and various bit of debris washed down the mountainside had flooded this idyllic spot. The guys that had taken me snorkelling were out in the boats removing the detritus from their lagoon, boats piled high with vegetation.

It nearly broke my heart. It rained the entire holiday. I never saw the sun again. But one day I’ll go back, go snorkelling again!


  1. Hi Kay,
    Wow what an experience. And there you thought you were going to spend time in sun heaven! At least it gives you an excuse to go back and do more snorkeling. I had a similar experience but only for four days out of a two week holiday in the Dominican Republic. I remember how sad I was that all we could do is sit indoors, feeling cold and damp.
    Anyway, I loved your descriptions, you could use the experience as a setting for a short story...

  2. Elpi Hi & thanx for leaving a comment. It was remarkable that the air-con made the room damper, took ages to fix the settings so that I could dry the room out! Just hysterical...