Archive for the ‘Cook Islands’ Category

“Normal” is a Relative Word

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Tsunami Evacuation Route Sign

A road sign you're unlikely to see on the driving test back home

The Cook Islands is a place where things happen just a little differently to the rest of the world. A unique combination of isolation, ethnic diversity and a so-laid-back-it’s-almost-horizontal approach to life, means situations that seem perfectly normal to locals will often appear slightly out of left field to vistors from more developed Western countries. If you’re visiting and find yourself experiencing an above average level of weirdness (and if you’re staying for any length of time, there’s a fair chance you will), relax…this is just how things happen here.

Some common examples of Cook islands “normality” include:

– Paying US $250 a night to stay at a hotel where the supplied in-room entertainment consists of a twenty-year-old AM radio and communal newspaper.

– Making a purchase at the local store and receiving your change in the form of triangular coins and a three-dollar bill.

– Sitting on the deck of your hotel drinking Coke instead of beer, because you haven’t properly catered for the fact that the sale of alcohol is banned on Sundays.

– Dining at an upmarket restaurant and spotting three different species of lizard crawling across the walls and ceiling.

– Opening the door of your hotel room to find an entire family of chickens roosting on the front step.

– Attempting to relax and enjoy your beachfront accommodation, when you’ve walked past at least a dozen different “tsunami evacuation route” signs since arriving on the island.

– Questioning the need to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive child restraint for your car, because it’s been clearly demonstrated that the rear tray of a utility vehicle is a perfectly valid method of transporting kids.

– Taking a five-minute stroll from your hotel to the local shops and crossing paths with at least five different farmyard animals, despite the fact you’re not even remotely near a farm.

If you manage to go more than a day in the Cook Islands without ticking off at least half of these experiences, I’d advise taking a closer look at your flight details…you may very well be in the wrong country.