“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.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

American in Niue, part 4: The end of the holiday

Palaha CaveWednesday
We tried to sleep in as much as possible (with all the roosters crowing, earplugs are a definite help!). I had come down with a sore throat and cough, despite feeling fine on the trip from Auckland. We were personally asked about our health before we got on the plane- all the Niue passengers did. However, I am certain it was not swine flu (this is what they were looking to prevent), just a minor cold. I took a couple of a vitamin supplements, one called “Hairy Lemon” and the other from the US called “Emergen-C” I also had some pseudoephedrine/antihistamine with me, so taking that before diving helped keep my ears clear. I’m really glad that I brought along my fleece-lined, wind-barrier boat coat for whale watching on Wednesday.The whale watching trip was in the afternoon, with Dive Niue, who take out 6 passengers after scuba diving in the mornings. We were out on the water for about 3 hours, and we got some great whale interactions. I am really impressed by the operators of Dive Niue, they are professional and kind, well organized and hard-working. As the only dive operators on the island, you really don’t have a choice, so fortunately they are really good.
The weather was very nice- not too hot, so nice for walking around, but warm enough for swimming. The water is nice and warm too. I was concerned that the high surf would prevent us from our whale trip, but it wasn’t bad. Of course, the point of these boat trips is to fall out into the water to either scuba dive or snorkel. And when we got into the water, here is what we saw. This is my best whale photo, taken while it was surfacing to breathe. On Thursday, we explored some more caves. One of them, I won't even call a cave, had human bones in it, obviously very old bones. I didn't see any skulls or teeth so can't verify that they were human. Creepy yes, but in line with the common sight of graves along the road, in people's yards. Some of the graves are lavishly decorated and have roofs over them. These are in contrast to the sometimes shabby appearance of the homes (remember, there was a big cyclone in 2004). Along with the quiet, sparsely populated and rugged environment, the overall effect was a bit spooky. We loved it though. We went to the most excellent cave on the island, Palaha, and had it all to ourselves.Here it is from the water, and here we are inside of it. Early inhabitants used to live in the caves, and this one in particular is huge. We hung out there and read our books in the shade, listening to the surf. Thursday evening we had a dinner out. It was served buffet style and had a really good variety. We got to try the local land crab, "uga".
We had to fly back to Auckland on Friday, which was Saturday in Auckland. We would definitely go back there! It's no beach and sand island, but we loved the slow pace and uncrowded places. As I mentioned before, it is rough landscape, but very unique and special.