Prior to visiting Rarotonga we had heard much about the generous hospitality and kindness of Islanders and Kiwis. After our time there we can certainly vouch for this. Although we met many lovely Kiwis and Islanders during our time in Rarotonga, three were especially memorable.
We were fortunate to stay at a self-catered ‘villa’ called the White House. This was a perfect 2 bedroom place with a pool (which we ended up having mostly to ourselves for the week) and within 125 steps to some of the best snorkelling anywhere (according to Dave and Dad). Our hosts, Eve and Brent (originally from New Zealand), lived right next door made sure we had everything we needed for the perfect stay.
When we arrived at the villa well after 1 am, we were surprised to find all the necessities for breakfast already in the kitchen, despite the unit being self-catered - our first ‘welcome’. We met Eve and Brent a few hours later when they popped by our first morning on the island. They showed us where all the ‘beach toys’ were including snorkels, fins, a sea kayak and beach seats.
Throughout the week, Brent and Eve stopped by for chats if they happened to see us outside, offered us lifts to and from town, helped organize our fishing expedition, taught us how to break open coconuts and brought Dave growlers of beer from the local brewery over the course of the week. Totally unexpected and it made for a wonderful week!
Before explaining the third memorable person on this leg of our journey, we need to rewind back to our flat tire episode in Ecuador. While Dave and I were discussing what to do about the tire, we used the word ‘karma’ a lot. The girls wondered what the word meant. A simple explanation was given - we repair the tire today and later in our trip when we really need some help, our positive energy will be returned to us in our time of need. Well in the last few hours on Rarotonga, this is exactly what happened.
Like anyone taking a flight, on our last day on Rarotonga, we had checked our airline to confirm the details of the flight. We made plans to take the anti-clockwise bus at 7:30 pm to the airport in order to catch our 10:30 pm flight back to Auckland. All was set. Eve and Brent had come over for a beverage at about 6 pm that evening to say goodbye. Brent mentioned he saw on an app that our flight was to be late by a few hours. Perfect for us! No need to rush then as we were having a good time and enjoyed the visit some more. We would simply catch the next anti-clockwise bus which would come the following hour and still have plenty of time at the airport before our delayed flight left.
Eve and Brent left our unit and Dave double checked the airline webpage one last time before we headed out. The webpage indicated our flight was due to leave at 10 pm - a full half hour BEFORE the original email from the morning! We had just missed the 7:30 bus, with the next bus coming in an hour. The ride to the airport could take about 20 minutes which would leave us with under an hour to check our bags, clear security and be on the plane. Most people would say, ‘no worries’ but if you know me, we don’t like running late or feeling the pressure of time. As well, relying on busses that run on ‘island time’ at a time like this was a little less than desirable. So, we quickly looked up a phone number for a taxi, rushed to get our back packs on and quickly walked to the main road to catch our cab. (In hindsight, this rush probably was better given the second round of goodbyes I had to have with my parents. It was hard enough the first time.) Mom and Dad watched as we headed off down the dark road with all our gear on our backs.
We had waited a few minutes for the cab when a truck turned onto our road. The driver leaned out and asked if we were waiting for a bus. When we told him our situation he responded, ‘If the taxi doesn’t come soon, I’m the second house in, I’d be happy to drive you.” Off he went. Dave and I looked at each other. Although we weren’t worried about our taxi’s arrival, the thought of a local having doubts, didn’t boost our confidence. We also didn’t have the time to hang around and wait. So, Dave went up the road to take up this kind man on his offer.
A moment later, Dave and Alex (as the man was now to be known) returned in the pick up truck that only a moment ago had passed us on the road. Alex jumped out, shook each of our hands and quickly helped us load our bags into the back of his truck. Meanwhile, the girls hopped into the cab as we reassured them this one time it was ok to take a ride with a stranger. Dave and I jumped in the back of the pick up truck.
This was not the way we had anticipated our departure going. To be honest though - this was the perfect way to leave Rarotonga. From the back of the truck Dave and I looked up into a large, open, dark sky filled with stars. We could hear the ocean waves crashing against the reef and breathed in fragrant blooms in the air. We could also see our two kids confidently chatting away with a complete stranger about their trip and time in Rarotonga, whereas earlier in the trip they would have been reluctant to answer a question if it was posed to them. These were pretty amazing things to witness. Upon our arrival at the airport, we exchanged emails with Alex and of course thanked him profusely for his generous offer. As he explained, with 2 kids of his own, he just felt badly to see us standing on the side of the road.
As it turned out, we got to the airport in plenty of time. Our flight was delayed - by 2 hours (should have listened to Brent)!!! This gave us plenty of time to slowly begin to earn back our title of ‘parents of the year’ by explaining (or maybe justifying) to the girls why hitchhiking in this one and only instance was ok but will never be again. We also had time to respond to my parents’ awaiting email ensuring we were ok. Unbeknownst to us, Mom and Dad had continued watching us on the road to make sure the taxi came. Thus, they also saw us jump into the unknown pick up truck and were left to explain (and pay) the cab driver who arrived on their door step 5 minutes after, that we didn’t need a ride after all. Of course, this was just after we assured them we would be safe on the next legs of our journey. Great timing on our part! I should have known they would have watched to make sure we were safe. HUGE apologies (and thank you) Mom and Dad!
Often on this trip Dave and I have reflected on how there are incredibly good people in the world. They go out of their way to help out because they see people in need or, as they have explained it to us, because they were helped by others when in similar situations. We know we have similar positive interactions at home too with family, friends and strangers as well. Yet somehow, this trip (and the preparations for it) have provided many moments for me to be reminded of this and our good fortune. I think we were all reminded of the importance of showing kindness to others, even when it isn’t most convenient.
So, THANK YOU, Brent, Eve & Alex - you made a great trip to Rarotonga even better!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).