Please allow me to begin with the wonderful mythical story of a distant God and His people.
Once upon the time the small tribe of Ru lived on one of the wondrous tiny islands of the South Pacific seas near the ancient lands of Tahiti. They were surrounded by other islands and islanders, many being populated by marauding warrior tribes. These cannibalistic tribes would jump into their seafaring boats and attack the people of Ru, often stealing their "vahines" (women) and murdering their young sons, just so that they could not extract any future vengeance against them.
One day, upon spotting the fast approaching boats of an attacking tribe, Ru hurriedly placed his four wives, children, his four brothers and their wives and children into their double hulled canoes, to make their desperate escapes. The attackers pursued them and they were closing in. The lives of the islanders appeared doomed. The pursuers had now almost overtook the heavily loaded canoes of terrified men, women and children. With practically no distance left between them, all of the sudden vicious winds kicked up, the seas raged frantically, the skies were covered by ominously angry and thick black clouds. The rains were heavy and all seamed hopeless; they would certainly loose their lives either to the raging storm or to the pursuers. Yet, they lived and the pursuing warriors had soon dropped out of sight and completely disappeared into the wild stormy seas.
The storm raged for hours, for days, perhaps for weeks. The people in their tiny canoes were tossed and thrown by huge waves and finally lost track of time. It was nothing short of a miracle that they were still alive. They had no food or water left and the people were getting weaker by the hour.
It was in the middle of a very dark, very scary night in the wicked storm when, all of the sudden, the rain and the winds had stopped, the seas calmed and the clouds parted. The moon was full at its brightest, its silvery light reflecting off the peaceful, calm waters of the most beautiful lagoon that a God could find for its favorite people and creatures; a heavenly atoll with a small main island in one corner inside the protective reefs and an other 16 motus (tiny, low tropical islands) scattered around the outer parameters of the lagoon. And, from beyond the silver moon, thus spoke God to them:
"Peaceful people of the long journey; behold your new home; these are your lands and seas, and it is the Paradise of the Seas. Live in peace, love freely, enjoy the bounty of the seas, the rich fruits amongst the branches of the lush greens, and cleanse yourself in crystal clear, warm waters of the lagoon."
Thus, the wild journey was finally over. The raging storms have pushed the ragged tribe more than one thousand kilometers over open waters from their old island homes. They pulled up to the a gleaming, long white beach on the largest of the islands and immediately collapsed of extreme fatigue and fell asleep on the soft sands of the beach.
When they woke, what they found was an island covered by intensely green, yet gentle vegetation, its tropical trees bearing heavy loads of the finest fruits, colorful flowers to lift their weary spirits and a lagoon of ever-changing colors so beautiful and so rich in life that they stood in an open-mouthed awe. There were no Forbidden Fruits, there were no cunning and poisonous Serpents anywhere on these islands. They bowed their heads, performing their very first ritual on their new homelands, thanking the God that saved them from their enemies and safely delivered them to this Paradise. They sat in a small circle to decide on the name for the atoll and its many little motus; the decision was unanimous and easy:
"Aitutaki" - that means "Found By God".
Picture 1 - Aitutaki from the air
The spectacularly beautiful women and strong, handsome men of Aitutaki lived happily-ever-after in Paradise, bathing nakedly and shamelessly in the warm waters of the magic lagoon, making love and resting; for they had no concepts of "Sin" and work was hardly needed as the seas and the lands gave more than enough, just for the taking.
But, a sad twist to add to the beautiful story of Aitutaki; after nearly a thousand years of undisturbed happiness some strange, powerful large ships began to pull up to the shores of the lagoon. On them came pale skinned people of all kinds, some good, some bad, some snake-oil-salesmen that wore long and colorful robes with the tall, pointy hats of a claimed divine authority. With them, they brought the story of a distant Greater God and convinced the gentle people of Aitutaki to turn their backs on the God that handed them their lasting and Sin-free Paradise. They were once again terrified being told the stories of a frightening God that took vengeance on His own people by raining fire on their cities and even flooding their lands to kill them all, innocent, guilty, human, beast, all of them. They were told by those men wearing pointed tall hats that the only way to avoid the violent anger and destruction meted out by this Greater God was to build large temples for Him and serve Him with all they got.
Today's island women wear long shorts and long T-shirts while bathing in the lagoon, having been told of the sins of the body and its natural desires. No more nakedness for that is now a Sin. No more free love as that is now also a Sin. They go to the gleaming white churches and pray to a God of a distant, desolate desert, an inferior and godforsaken place that they can not even fathom from the blooming green, flowery richness of their own lands and seas.
Picture 2 - The gentle lands and seas of Aitutaki
So, how are the very descendants of the original tribe are living today? Please, judge for yourself;
-No taxes to be paid
-No poverty â all live in apparently simple housing and drive mostly mopeds.
-Free education for all, including higher education off islands.
-Free medical care
-Paid Child care assistance to age 12
-Retirement for all at age 60
-No crime on the island
-Everyone speaks English, due to past colonizing by New Zealanders.
-Now an independent island paradise.
I must say that the last place I had experienced a similar form of social fabric was under the Socialist or Communist structures of my original homelands. Yet, our old style of Communism was Dictatorial, the very reason for my leaving. But, please keep this a secret, just between us; I would not want our government to find out that such a blatant form of Socialism or (gasp) Communism exist for surely they would send out our fine Christian Warriors to bomb the islands back into the bottom of the seas.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the authors of the Communist ideology, would have been happy with the social conditions on these islands. So would have been Jean Jacques Rousseau, the Father of Democracy who clearly stated that that any elections of Representatives, the corner stones of any large society, meant the death of Democracy. Thus, large Nation States could never function as Democracies which could only be feasible at village or tribal levels where all people give themselves to, and actively participate in self governance. Given the approximate 1200 residents of Aitutaki, Democracy is indeed feasible and openly practiced. During our all-too-short stay I got to know surprisingly many people, feeling as if I knew most of the tiny village. Many people have multiple functions in society, work as a driver, store tender, tour guide, etc. while sitting on a number of island Councils at the same time.
There are no obvious displays of wealth and no visible displays of poverty. A violent tropical cyclone that swept over the island two years ago tore off the roofs and destroyed the walls of many of the simple homes. The damages are still clearly visible. Yet, the people seem happy, they smile a lot and are most friendly towards the relatively few visiting tourists. One afternoon, coming off a solo kayaking trip on the lagoon, I had a conversation with two local women and a man, sitting idly on the shores of the lagoon, chatting, while one of the women lasso-tossed out some loose fishing lines into the waters. No fishing poles were needed, just the plain line with a small bait attached. I asked her if it was difficult to hook a fish? She laughed with a genuine, open-mouthed laugh that showed off her perfect teeth while pointing to the line that suddenly rose and pulled tight; out came a decent sized fish. We kept up the talk for about 15 minutes in which time she pulled out 3 more fishes, plenty for dinner for the family. No efforts, what so ever. Bless the happy people of Aitutaki and Bless the God of Ru that delivered them to this gem of lands.
I asked them about island life, after all, who's better to tell than the simple, common people. She told me that the island people were happy. They had very little in terms of monetary wealth but, they did not need any more. The sea gives them the finest fishes and the shores provide the most delicious, juicy fruits, mangos, papayas, star-fruits, taro, breadfruit etc. All they have to do is to simply reach out and take it. My wife and I had never particularly liked papaya in the States until tasting the fruits here. Definitely not the same when fruits are ripened in warehouses or when they are taken off fresh right from the trees.
On our first full day, we went for a lagoon cruise with a local guide, Puna, and about 10 other people. The lagoon is about 15 km long and 12 km wide with the main island and 16 motus scattered around the perimeters. Those lush motus are all entirely uninhibited and mostly devoid of structures. What ever minor structures existed for the tourists are now being taken down, due to proper awareness of the pristine natural environment. The lands of these motus are only a couple of feet above lagoon water levels which makes them susceptible to flooding during powerful storms. The natural beauty of these little motus is almost beyond description. Following a rich snorkeling session at the many coral heads along the way we landed on a gem of a tiny island, called the, "One Foot Island". From the airplane, looking down, the shape of the island is that of a naked foot. Yet, legends of the island explain the name's origins differently. It goes like this:
Those same marauding tribes that were lost in the storm eventually found the atoll of Aitutaki and the descendants of Ru. Upon seeing their approach a father quickly placed his young son into a canoe and made him lie at the bottom, out of sight for the pursuers. He was furiously paddling away from the main island towards the farthest motu of the atoll. The savages were in hot pursuit but, far behind. Upon reaching the motu the father pointed the son towards the dense vegetation at the center of the tiny motu. He followed his son tightly, making certain that he stepped into the small footsteps of the young boy; thus making it look like there was only a single person walking in the soft sands, instead of two. He pushed the boy into the crown of a dense coconut palm tree, far and above. When his pursuers caught up with him, they killed him but, the son was undiscovered and lived. Thus, the island was named, the One Foot Island.
When our tour boat landed on One Foot Island there happened to be a group of four locals there, the only people besides us. They were apparently enjoying a Sunday picnic. Three of them arrived via a small outboard while one paddled a gorgeous racing outrigger canoe. Sensing a dream-come-true, paddling a fast boat to the remote motus, I asked our tour-boat pilot if I could approach the group. He said, "Sure, by all means".
I walked to them, asking them if I may disturb their privacies. They welcomed me with broad smiles. There were two Steves, as apparently a large portion of the island males are named Steve. Also there was an all muscle, a fine, tough-as-a-nail-looking woman, the wife of Big Steve and their 16 year of son. Big Steve, was BIG. He was born on Aitutaki but, given his size and exceptional talents, he played years worth of rugby for professional teams in both New Zealand and Australia. He, just like so many other locals, is a very good-looking and very powerfully built man; with his long black wavy hair dropping just below shoulder levels, covering much of his face, he could look menacing to the opposing teams or an enemy. With his hair combed smooth and tied in ponytail, dressed up, his looks is quite elegant, projecting confident power. It was father and son that shared the canoe ride. Soon enough we were into discussing race boats, designs, competitions and paddling techniques. I finally broached the subject of, perhaps, renting a racing canoe for lagoon cruising. They carefully chose their words, not refusing me, nor saying, yes. After all, what was this pale skinned tourist thinking for wanting to be in their super narrow, tippy racing outrigger? We agreed that I would meet them back on the main island where the boats were stored and we would go from there.
Picture 3 - Big Steve and I. For reference, I am 6' tall and weight 190 lbs.
As our lunch ended, our tour captain asked us back into the boat and we pushed off the shores of One Foot Island. Suddenly, some very dark clouds appeared over the crowns of the coconut palm trees. On Aitutaki no one will even guess the weather. It can and will change unexpectedly in a matter of minutes. Our captain pulled the boat back to shore, telling us that for our own safety we would remain on the island until the storm passed by.
So, I walked back to the small group of locals. As I approached, Big Steve pointed to the racing outrigger and suggested that I give it a go. It was clear to me that I was being tested to see if I could handle the fragile machine or make myself look like a complete moron in trying so. The only times I had ever paddled a single blade were those times in paddle rafts and once in Huahine, Tahiti, where I did get to paddle a racing outrigger canoe. So, as the winds picked up and the sky turned black I got into the canoe and leisurely paddled it back and forth between the two adjacent motus. Upon my return, the conversation opened up. I was told that I could use the racing canoe whenever I wished, no rents, as they would not rent to tourists. I was also immediately invited to paddle in their six-men outrigger canoe team the very next day. I was blown away by the offer. Upon saying the parting notes, Big Steve asked if I would be there the next day. I answered that only if the sky fell, would I miss such an honor and such an opportunity.
Picture 4 - Paddling off One Foot Island
Picture 5 - Paddling off One Foot Island
Promptly at 5 PM the next day I was at the appointed beach surveying 3 beautiful outrigger racing team canoes. Soon a team formed and I was kind of sad to see that one person was left behind due to my presence. Big Steve was not there, he was on a trip to Rarotonga, representing Aitutaki as the Cultural Ambassador of this Paradise.
To my surprise we started up hard with a high stroke rate and never eased up for the next hour. I'm clueless when it comes to outrigger canoeing and know nothing regarding any special vocabularies attached to the sport. The person behind me, the one doing all the ruddering, was giving me hints, helping to adjust my stroke from a kayaking one to a fairly different one used in the outrigger canoes. I did my best to adjust. We were far away from the main island at the point of turning and I was tired and beat. But, I felt, I would rather die before I would lighten up on my strokes and show weakness. So, we paddled back at the same high stroke rates. Upon landing the team high-fived me, saying, "Good go Albert". More importantly, I was invited back again for their next training session. Would I come? With all my bones and muscles feeling the hard strain I managed to say with a straight face over an otherwise contorted smile: "I wouldn't miss it for the life of me".
Picture 6 - The boyz of Aitutaki - The first day of paddling
The next day I woke with painful shoulders, back and the rest. I had the whole day to rest. Yet, instead, I went back and took out the single racing outrigger canoe and paddled it to the nearest motu, probably only a mile, or so, away. There was no breeze that day, the hot sun was beating straight down from above, thus, I satisfied myself with the quick roundtrip.
Next day, following a short hike to the top of the island and more snorkeling, I met up with the team again. This time Big Steve was back in the team, together with some other changes, making it into a considerably stronger team all together. Strong winds swept the lagoon that afternoon, whipping its generally calm waters into sizable irregular white caps. This time the one hour was extended to about 80 minutes, the stroke rate remained very high and we made it almost half way out to the end of the atoll before turning around. I was beginning to feel the rhythm of the team working all as one, beginning to feel the correct, more efficient stroke. In both directions our fully powered travel stroke rates were peppered with demands from the rudder, #6 seat:
"Let's pick it up Mates, give me 200" - as the stroke rate rose instantly to near sprint rates.
"Keep the power Mates, Keep the power... Take it back now People, just the stroke rate, keep the power coming... Excellent people, we're all together now... beautiful... let's pick it up Mates, give me another 200... Yiiiihaaaaaaa... we're flying Mates, we're flying... back off on the stroke, People, keep the power... this is IT people we are MOVING... let's pick it up now Mates, give me 200... Yiiiiihaaaa Mates, this is it, we're flying...
Back on shore they once again complimented me on my paddling. I figured they were being nice guys, basically just being friendly. I got the high-fives from the team members as I began getting on my hotel-provided bicycle for the 5 km ride back. Big Steve stopped me and asked me to please stand aside for a couple of minutes as they had a club matter to discuss, after which they would drop me and my bike at the hotel. I protested, saying that I did not need dropping, 5 km biking was nothing. Yet, Steve insisted that I wait and they would drop me.
So, I waited a few minutes while they huddled about their club issues. Soon after, Big Steve called up to me to join them. Once there, he asked:
"Albert we would like you to paddle with us the Motu to Motu race in December. Would you, could you join us?"
I was speechless! I was scrambling for the right answer even though I hardly ever have to scramble for answers. I was looking at them in utter amazement, wondering if they were joking? They assured me that they were not. I finally managed to say something about the Great Honor bestowed on me and thanked them in seemingly never ending ways for the offer. I finally blurted out that I would be greatly honored to paddle this race as a part of their team.
Motu to Motu is the greatest event of the year on Aitutaki. Only begun a few years ago it is expanding in importance and attendance at lightning speeds. 2012 promises to be a huge event with teams coming from all over the world, Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Americas, Europe and Asia. The competition will begin on the main island and circle the lagoon, shadowing and circling the magic motus, for a total distance of 32 kilometers. Along the route there will be wet changes, meaning that paddlers will exit into the water and fresh paddlers will hoist themselves into the boat. Each paddler is expected to be at racing speeds for a total of 80 - 90 minutes.
It took me long minutes to fully comprehend the offer. When I did and did accept, I was greeted by a fresh round of high-fives, with Poppy, the Kiwi wife of Big Steve, giving me a loving hug and kissing me on the mouth. On Aitutaki that means to be accepted as a friend. Still dazed, I walked up to Big Steve and once again told him what an exceptional honor I considered this turn of events. Big Steve, the scary looking Gentle Giant, spoke in his usual gentle and soft voice:
"No Albert, it was DESTINY that brought us together out on One Foot Island".
Back at Etu Moana, one the World's most beautiful boutique hotel, we lounged on the terrace of our beach front villa, relaxing after the tough paddling session. Soon, just as the usual, magnificently colorful sunset was at its artistic crescendo over the horizon, the Canadian Managing couple of the hotel walked by, with beautiful Amanda asking about my paddling session. I told them about the invitation. Amanda openly gasped, slapping her hands together repeatedly. She could hardly contain her shock:
"Albert... this is... this is... this is... INCREDIBLE...! Albert... OMG... Do you know what this means???... Albert, do you realize what an honor this is???"
"Yes, Amanda. I do recognize it and I expressed it as such to the team... the part about the Great Honor..."
"No, Albert, this is HUGE... it is a HUGE... HUGE... HUGE... honor! It is the biggest event on the islands and Big Steve and Poppy are the legends of this island. They are an incredibly tight group of people. Weâve been here for six months and could not even crack their doors... And you've been here for 5 days and YOU ARE IN!!! Gosh Albert, do you realize...?
Thus, we immediately reserved 3 weeks for later this year in the same beach villa. Two weeks prior to the race so that I can train with the team and fit tightly into their style and, following the race, a few more days. Going to the tiny main village I met a number of the team members and I was still waiting for them to tell me that it was all a joke. Sure, our team from this tiny island will not win against the pro teams sponsored by millions of dollars and expected to arrive with great entourages of support personnel. For all I care, even if we finish dead last, I would always treasure the times with these guys and gals and treasure the opportunity to once again, at my ripe age, compete head to head against the world's best with Paradise as the painted background.
The next day we went sailing. Once again, there were no rental sailboats but, by approaching the right person, showing the right respect towards these fiercely proud people, doors do open. So, we found ourselves in a light-weight racing catamaran, just my wife Rozsa and me. We headed out to the open lagoon, destination; the remote motus of Rapota and Moturakau where a number of the well known TV shows, such as Survival, Shipwrecked, plus an other one that I never watched, were filmed. We had a great day, the cat was wickedly fast for my limited sailing skills. I am an expert windsurfer but, such a skill level does not necessarily transfer to a multi-sailed racing cat. Rozsa handled the jib sail while I handled the main sail and the steering. The winds were kind to us as we reached our destination islands, dodging great, shallow coral heads and reefs all the way. Our return, the downwind leg, was uneventful, if one could call sailing Paradise in a fast cat, "uneventful".
Picture 7 - My crew, Rozsa, at a motu landing
Picture 8 - Myself at a tiny motu landing
With just one full day left I had one more wish before I died and went to Heaven. I wished to paddle my own craft out to the remote corner of the atoll where, perhaps, the most magical of all tiny motus, "Honeymoon Island" and its sister motu, "Maina" were located. I asked the hotel clerk if I would be allowed to take one of the hotel's Perception-made recreational kayaks as I was not confident enough to take the tippy and fragile racing outrigger all alone with no one to come to my help if a storm or any other unexpected condition would arise.
The desk clerk looked at me funny. "That is a very long distance over open, exposed waters... no one ever paddled a kayak to those islands!"
"No one EVER???... Oh, please don't say... Uh, I love those words... No one ever?... time to change that, isn't it."
The hotel manager, sensing that my invitation to race with the home team must be somehow deserved, did not deny my request but, simply asked me if I was certain that I could handle the distance, the conditions, and the kayak. These boats were not designed for open waters and the hotel had no life jackets.
Since I was going through extensive open waters with instantly changing weather and sea conditions I decided on a few safety steps. To protect against the burning tropical sun, I wore full length pants and a long sleeved shirt with a wide brimmed hat. Packed a full gallon of water against dehydration threats. Off the kayak, I tied a string around my ankle and another one around the paddle, in case a storm would catch me and overturn the boat on the open seas. The most dangerous possibility that existed, IMO, was a sudden violent storm that could, according to locals, produce high winds and six-foot breaking waves in the lagoon. If I were to flip and not tied to the boat, the storm winds could blow the kayak away instantly before I could catch it. Then, I would be stranded in miles of open waters with various currents and not even a life jacket. Meeting up with the razor sharp corrals of the outer reefs, while being pounded by waves, would certainly not be pleasant. The nearby wrecks of the large ship, "Alexander", broken up over the reef, attests to that.
I got a very early start and the weather was perfect. Sea conditions were about a one-foot chop, no winds. I paddled the approximately 5 miles distance to the twin islands in less than 1.5 hour of constant easy tempo, using just the right levels of power input for the limited top speed of the surprisingly rockered, recreational hull design that was very similar to whitewater creek boat hull shapes, but considerably wider. Pushing any harder would hardly increase the hull speed but, would drain my energy far quicker.
Picture 9 - Half way to the motus in my kayak
People would describe such experience, being entirely alone on those remote motus, in various ways. Some would say that they had met God out there. Others would say that Nature had put on a magnificent show for them out there. For me, the feeling was that of being "one and the same" with nature. Nature does not put on a show for anyone. Nature just simply "is". I remember walking around the outside beach perimeter of the larger motu, called "Maina". It took about 15 minutes for an easy circle island stroll. At one point I was bent over, looking at some of the thousands of shells washed to shore by the seas and, when I looked up I loudly and nearly incoherently yelled out loudly in utter shock and surprise:
The extensive white sandbars about 100 yards off shore from me were seen now in hues of incredibly intensive warm, pink colors. The shallow waters surrounding the sandbars were a different hue of pink; the waters a bit further away were translucently green, light blue and turquoise blue of magnificent color composition.
I knew that these colors would be just a momentary phenomena. I quickly snapped a couple of pictures for others to see, fully suspecting that the recorded images would not be able to reproduce the depth of colors or the depth of the experience. Indeed, they did not. Yet, the picture lives vividly in my stored memory banks, intense as it were at the moment of observation.
Picture 10 - Reaching the first sandbars of Honeymoon motu
Picture 11 - Maina motu
Picture 12 - View from Honeymoon motu
I recall one of the all time gem of a little book by a University Professor of Philosophy, Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." One has to get passed the funny title to find a treasure of content, beginning with easy-to-read descriptions and observations of the Man's travels and slowly progressing into deeper layers of philosophy. At one point, the ever observant author describes being at a scenic lookout, sitting there for hours, absorbing the fine scenery. He also observes people, tourists as they come by, stepping quickly out of their air conditioned vehicles, snapping a quick series of pictures, then escaping right back into the comfort of their machines and speeding away to the next picture taking opportunities. Once home, Pirsig suggested, they would pull up those pictures, look at the poor, two dimensional representations of some distant images that, having lost the depths of the 3 dimensional world, give them nothing back. Thus, onto the bottom of a drawer they go, never to be seen again, for they mean nothing. For, those who take the fewest pictures tend to see most of the world around them.
At around noon, the lone tourist boat pulled up to the smaller of the two motus, called "Honeymoon motu". This motu used to be part of the extensive sandbars surrounding Maina motu, until winds carried over the seeds of plants and trees and formed one of the most picturesque motus on earth. The small boat deposited a dozen tourists at the very distant reaches of the sandbar. Then, the boat backed out of the shallow waters, went around the sandbars and proceeded to come to shore about 50 yards from where I was floating, fully relaxed, on the surface of the warm waters, arms, legs stretched out. I set up to look around. The tourists stood at the far-end of the sandbar for minutes, apparently and ever obviously out of their environments, looking very lost. Finally, closely bunched up, as safety in numbers was important for them, they slowly and bravely made their ways up the sandbar, a whole distance of about 250 yards. Once near the safety of their tour boat, the perked up, pretty girls performing bikini posing that were visibly much (but not enough) practiced in front of their home closet mirrors. Not a single one would proceed the remaining 50 yards towards the dense tropical jungle at the center of the motu. Pictures snapped, they hurriedly climbed back onto the tour boat and quickly and thankfully disappeared around the island in search for the next set of pictures and, more importantly, lunch. I was left again to ponder solitude and the value of life.
My philosophy on the meanings of life goes something, like this:
Life, in itself, has no inherent value or purpose. Just as Nature, life simply "is". In my eyes, one's life can be likened to a large display of mosaics that contain every single and the whole of that person's life experiences. Some people die sad, having spent much of their lives in the warm safety of their caves, finding every excuse not to step out and face the cool, potentially unsettling and dangerous winds of the unknown. Thus, having missed the unlimited opportunities of their lives, at their very last moments when the final tallies of lives are drawn, they are forced to be looking at some grey slab of slate as the representative pictures of their lives.
Their polar opposites, the "People of Long Journeys", walk tirelessly the World and the Universe, often selecting virgin paths through the mountains, the deserts, the seas, and the sky, seeking nothing in particular. Yet, they will be the lucky ones that find most. They will be the ones to stumble across those rare and unforgettable effects of such spontaneous dance of colors, seen possibly by only the very few, or that pristine meadow in that remote, un-chartered wilderness, covered by the most spectacular carpet of wild flowers, surrounding a mirror-like lake, high up in the mountains, far above the stinking smell of the cities. Those pictures, stored in our brain-memories, are far superior to any two dimensional photos. The colors, the beauty that those experiences add to our mosaics make for the true essence of life.
Thus, I had spent the whole day in the magic solitude, far away from all, exactly where I dreamed to be. The experience must be felt as it can not be described. Next time back, as we surely are going back, perhaps a longer, overnight stay will be in order, taking my wife with me in a double kayak.
The incentive to finally leave the motus had showed up in the shapes of some very dark and very threatening storm clouds as they were pulling closer to the motus. I reluctantly jumped into my kayak and begun stroking firmly back towards the main island of Aitutaki to miss the oncoming band of storm. My abilities to miss did not seem likely as now the darkness closed-in and the storm was pounding the reefs, only about 150 yards from me. But, as if a giant hand stopped their progress, the darkness and the rain stopped right there, at the reef, while I paddled in totally calm waters, not a drop of rain falling on me, no sense of winds. Only later I found out that the whole hotel crew, the Managers down to the cleaning crews, were looking at the same dark clouds in the direction of the islands and were openly worried about me. Upon my return they quizzed me and when I told them how the storm stopped and stalled just short of blowing over me, one of them, lovely Panara, told me reassuringly that it was God who held the storm off, while leading me to safety.
Picture 13 - Storm clouds are moving in, better get going.
Which God did she mean? I did not ask but, the answer for me was obvious. Certainly not the God whose only communications towards me were those grave threats of a much hotter place for eternity. Most certainly it was the God of Ru, the very same one that led and delivered Panara's ancestors through the fierce storms to the safety of their Paradise. Thus, for the first time in my life, I bowed my head to this God and to Panara for her concern.
Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet travel guide named Aitutaki in 2010, "the world's most beautiful island" but, IMHO, it is much more than that; it is the most perfect atoll, entirely undeveloped and sparsely populated by gentle and beautiful people, with totally unspoiled, rich lands, and a gentle lagoon. An artist would have difficulty to paint the ever-changing intense colors of the waters and the skies above. It is a true treasure, one that could only be, Aitutaki, as, "Found by God".
Picture 14 - Our last sunset
May You Live On)
"2. : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings." So you're not angry at all, though -1 ezwater New
I'm a clinical psychologist. I testified in trials about sanity and insanity. You are angry. <NT> -2 ezwater New