Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mr Blobby is alive and well in Aitutaki

Yes, it is true.  A 3am this morning, Mr Blobby (last seen on BBC’s Noel’s House party in the mid ‘90’s) was heard ‘blobbing’ through the garden, around the house and then heading off towards the beach.  More realistically, it was probably at rather large swine.  To be fair though, it did sound like a small elephant wearing meat-packers gumboots full of water and holding a pack of fighting felines.

(“blob-blob-squalsh-squalsh-squeal-squeal”  ~ say it all together now!)

After eventually listening to it squealing along the beach and dropping back off to sleep, we awoke this morning to seeing another large swine in the garden.  It may be the same swine, but certainly much quieter in the day light.  Seeing (it was plainly obvious) that it was a boar (though of the tuskless variety) I sent the brave husband out to shoo it off.  Loud noises weren’t very effective, and in fact served to attract the beastie towards by precious tomato plants.  A quick retreat up the stairs was called for and we left the ‘pig-watch’ to the kids who ran around the deck looking down and giving us status reports every 30 seconds.  Eventually he retreated to a wallow that has magically appeared in the lawn across the road.  He was last spotted trotting down the road.

To be fair, this morning’s visitor is probably a domestic pig that has escaped his leg rope.  Last night’s guest….I don’t know.  There was a very large scrub fire down the road yesterday afternoon, most likely lit by pig hunters looking at burning their prey out of the long grass - it was certainly the cause of the major scrub fire last year.  Though it started 100m down the road, in the hills above the beach, the wind drove the flames down the island and away from us.  We should note at this point that the fire brigade on the island consists of the fire engine at the airport (and if there is a flight due, then it can’t leave its station).  The land immediately inland from our house is pretty dense and known to be full of wild pigs.  In fast we saw a large black beastie across the road just last week, which was making a huge racket, and the boys who do the Fire Dance show at the resort said months ago that they were coming for a hunt.  So this morning we saw that the fire had burned through the long grasses for about 1km, approaching 3 houses on the way.  It didn’t do any major damage and while we did see the fire engine go past at dinner time, it returned past 15 min later.  Fire is used quite regularly to clear areas of scrub for planting, but this was right up there on the stupid-o-meter given it was on the top of the hill in 20knot winds.

<sigh> This place is crazy sometimes! Blobby, blobby, blobby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

11 years and counting

11 years and counting, by Michael.

Do we lead a crazy (eventful) life or what. For our 11th wedding anniversary (diamonds, silver, gold – no water!!) we had the most amazing day yet, out on the Aitutaki Lagoon. We have been saving up for a lagoon trip with Te King – one of the best cruise operators who specializes in snorkelling. Over the last 10 months he has become a good mate and is quite a personality. We were long overdue for a trip with him to his special spots.

It has been yet another wildly busy month at the resort so it was good to see the back of September. Friday 2nd dawned to be beautiful sunny and still day – and our paradise looked beautiful. We packed ourselves of to Maina Wharf and into one of Te Kings runabouts for our own charter. First stop was fish-feeding, close by the reef and near the wreck of the Alexander. We shared this stop with about 10 other visitors from Te King’s daily cruise. The water was as clear as I have ever seen it and the fish life was amazing with hundreds of colourful fish surrounding us in pairs and large schools. The highlight was seeing ‘Hurricane’ the Napoleon wrasse – a massive old fish who must be 150 – 200kg. He just drifts leisurely around under the small fish, gliding in and out of the coral.

Bailey and Jamie have it all under control, and snorkel quite independently – mostly. Bailey is very confident and hardly needs any support, while Jamie can get a bit distracted taking his mask on and off, and on and off, to get the perfect fit, and just diving and somersaulting with no interest in the fish life. Sienna has come a long way and paddles around in her water wings taking quick looks under the surface in her goggles.

It was perfect having our own boat as this meant our own captain too – Tahi – who spent the day lifting the kids in and out of the boat, helping them to snacks, getting them towels and generally being a good guy – leaving Jen and I the chance to enjoy the water too.

The next stop was the giant clam beds where the water was distinctly colder. Bailey, Jen and Sienna stayed warm on the boat while Jamie decided to ride on my back – literally kneeling on me to keep out of the cold water while I gradually sank.

Lunch was on our favourite island Maina, which we have dubbed the ‘Special Occasion Island’ as this is where we spent Jenni’s birthday too. We had a great BBQ lunch with wahoo, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi put on by Te King. The highlight of his trip is this amazing BBQ served while guests are seated in the water, surrounded by hungry little fish – it’s a winner every time.

It was just glorious on the island. There is a sand bank about 50 m offshore and the kids and I swam over and dug sandcastles while Jenni took a break. I definitely got couple of shades browner during lunch!!

After lunch we headed to our last stop – the famous Purple Coral, which is nothing short of amazing. It is a large patch of rich luminescent purple coral heads. As we approached it almost seems to glow in the clear water. We stopped for around an hour for the best snorkeling yet. The fish life in the area is abundant and diverse and the coral is breathtaking as you swim amongst the canyons and crevices of dark purple, magenta and lilac soft coral heads, spiky staghorn and large bulbous brain corals.

It was a magic day – exhausting but hugely enjoyable.

Then we were off for 2 nights at pacific resort – sort of a busman’s holiday for me but a nice change of scenery for everyone else. We saw some great whale action over the reef and after ducking home to put Goatee to bed it was time for dinner. Saturday night Jen and I tried out Pacific Resort’s Famous Romantic Dinner – having our own private table set with flowers, candles and island music playing the background. The porters had drawn a huge heart on the sand in front of our table, surrounded with flaming lanterns and ‘J&M’ in the centre and with our lovely nanny Tav minding the kids Jen and I had the chance to gaze romantically into each other eyes and reminisce over the past 11 anniversaries, and think about what the next 11 might bring. As the magnificent sunset changed the horizon from yellow to orange to red I indulged in some local mud crab – a seasonal treat which later had the boys fascinated with the huge claws, and after 2 miniscule slices of a massive surprise chocolate cake it was the end of a lovely celebration weekend.