“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

American in Niue, part 1

We arrive in Alofi, Niue. There is one flight per week, leaving Auckland on Saturday and arriving on Friday. We are picked up by our lodging, Kololi’s Motel.
We drop off our bags in our fale (self-contained house), then go buy groceries. To save some money, I brought along some food: smoked salmon, turkey, chicken apple sausages, bacon, cheese, pasta sauce, granola bars, muesli, cashew nuts, salami, and coffee. I made pasta with a lemon cream sauce with smoked salmon for dinner. We had a nap before dinner, because we had to leave our home in Swanson for the airport at 6:30 am. I found that there was a concerning lack of salt and pepper in the cupboard, so I put that on the list of groceries to get Saturday.
We had a leisurely morning, waking up to the many cocks crowing and the chicks peeping, then falling back asleep. There are chickens all over, apparently running free and not belonging to anyone. Some of the hens have brought the chicks by our place for meals of bread bits, and there are 3 local cats that have suckered us into feeding them too. They are rather small, still kittens I suppose. One of them is quite sweet and social, with a good bit of white, who I’ve called Andy. They are not the cutest cats ever, but endearing, like the old dog who is very polite. None of the cats or the dog seem to trouble the chickens. Don’t they realize that chickens are delicious? The daughter of our hostess stopped by to give us a bunch of local bananas, which are the sweetest I’ve ever had.
Our lodging provided us with a car for $35/day, and we drove south from our accommodation to the Togulu sea track and the beach and wharf at Avatele. We stopped on the way at the Israel Mart, where we bought some drinks and frozen tuna (yellowtail). We visited with the owner there, and it turned out that he has family in San Diego, where we used to live. He was super nice and brought out some albacore sashimi for us to try. We had a collapsible cooler with us, so it stayed cold while we traveled on. My wish was to stop in Hakupu Village to go to Anapala Chasm, but the signage isn’t very clear, and we passed on down the ring road. We found ourselves at Togo Chasm, which is well signed, and spent a good couple of hours there. This place is a “must see” IF you are wearing sturdy footwear and in reasonable physical condition. The rocks are incredibly sharp. We ate our picnic lunch there. Though warm and humid, the overcast sky and occasional rain has kept the temperature quite tolerable.
We returned to our accommodation for a nap before heading out to the shops for a few groceries and beer. I made Mexican red rice with beans and salami, but was really pissed off by the apparent backwardness of the dials- the burner got red-hot when I turned it to low. But Darin saved the dinner by transferring the non-burnt bit into another pot to finish cooking. It turned out quite good, but then, what isn’t good when slathered with cheese? We considered going out to a bar to mix with the locals and other tourists, but decided to hang out in our cottage instead.

Niue information
Named the “savage island” by Captain Cook in 1774, the London Missionary Society came and established Christianity in 1846. Niue is independent, but in association with New Zealand, so uses NZ dollars and has a single flight to and from Auckland per week. The island has about 900 residents and Niueans have dual citizenship with NZ. Many Niueans live overseas. The island is not well developed for tourism, with only about 90 beds available, so it is very laid back and quiet. This is part of the appeal. Niue is in the same island group as Hawaii (Polynesia), but Niue’s highest point is just 70 meters/225 feet so the island is at risk if sea levels rise. Niue is a coral atoll that developed on top of a dormant volcano. There was a really bad cyclone that hit Niue in 2004, and many wrecked homes still stand as testament to the damage. There are 76 miles of road around the island, and to drive here you need to get a Niue driver’s license. This is the best Niue souvenir. I'll continue the trip diary in future blogs. Coming up next, scuba diving and whales.