The Heart of the needle
06.10.2007 - 06.10.2007 28 °C
OK, so with less than two days to go on Rarotonga, I had several activities I wanted to get under my belt.
I went to the Saturday Markets…. I took the bus tour around the Island… (an hour long drive or so with the occasional grouping of houses or resorts, and otherwise tropical beach fronts and general island rainforest). And I bought post cards and presents for family and friends.
The markets are mainly fresh food and produce then there is pearls and jewellery (Who am I going to buy jewellery for?) and sarongs (I didn’t need a skirt)…
That said I enjoyed trying the local delicacies and seeing what was on offer.
Saturday had turned out to be the day of the Island’s road race. I walked to and from the markets and as I did I saw cyclists and runners making their long and painful way into the finish line to be welcomed by the traditional drums of the locals. (Silly westerners who think its fun to exhaust themselves by running around the island).
So by mid day everything seemed to have finished… (Well what I mean by this is that the tours had started and the events and shops had closed or finished for the day).
After consulting the Hotel’s reception I found out that all the tours and guides had finished for the weekend… (Great!)
I sat down with a group of Kiwis and French/Polynesians to watch the world cup rugby. (After an unbelievable result, since when do the French beat the all blacks? I became restless).
I took the bus to the edge of the main town and started out for the rocky out crop at the island’s centre known as the “Needle”.
Now a lot of people visit the Needle many via the laid back notion of 4wd safari but as these were not running over the weekend I headed out on foot. (My map of Rarotonga had showed a clear path that leads from one side of the island to the other… and having nothing better to do and an over active sense of adventure I made my way into the steadily darkening rainforest. Now the service road I was walking along had small farms on either side and I choose now to say that if there was an animal to describe my time on Rarotonga it would be the Chicken, as every so many steps along the island I would disturb a chicken her young or even a roster… This said I must admit it did look cool walking past the farms with their Coconut trees, banana plantations and row after row of taro… then there were the goats, chickens and pigs… there was the occasional dog but mainly chickens.
So when the road ended there was a path that led into the thick rainforest… did I mention that it was starting to rain?
OK so like most bush tracks this one followed the ridge line… great! Rivers of water mud and sprawling roots of trees and vines… a fun if not steamy walk with some great views interludes of rain showers. At the top of the track stands the great solid rock outcrop which is the needle… attached to it is a warning along the lines of any journey further up the needle is done at the adventures own risk… (Read you would be an idiot to go up this thing!) So of course I climbed on first hanging onto the steel chains as my feet slipped all over the wet rock… then getting still higher I found the steel chains stopped and there was just wet rock… investigating I found there was an old rope and a garden hose… Now both of these looked old and warn… and any adventurer (Still alive would tell you not to trust a rope you have not secured yourself). This said I tested the garden hose… raising myself a foot off the ground just by pulling on the hose I tumbled backwards towards the edge… with a meter long piece of hose in my hand… The rope didn’t seem any stronger but by ensuring that I had secure hand and foot holds I minimised my use of either and made my way up through the centre of the needle.
Now I’ll just clarify here that there were several times I stopped, once or twice to think how spectacular the view was, or the things growing in this place or even at my own strength and endurance (aka getting ones breath back) but most of all I stopped every now and then and thought … why the hell am I climbing this thing!
At the top the view was great even with the showers and limited vision the achievement was very satisfying and one is left still asking “Why did I climb that?”
Having establish my insanity (at any time I could have fallen, I was there alone, no one knew where I was, and probably no one would find me for days if I had been found in the event of a slip or fall) I made my careful and slow decent… Now the path down through the rainforest to the other side of the island was not quite in the same state as the earlier path. In fact many parts had washed out and this is where I secured large amounts of mud and scratches as I slid down hillsides… after bush bashing and trail finding I managed to get to the other side… the other side being identified by an unimpressive water fall and a small pool of water which I was not allowed to wash my hands in let alone swim in… Sacred water hole! (I know this is where some of the island gets it’s drinking water from but it would make a great swimming hole!)
OK so walking out past more farms I made my way back to the main road and waited for the bus… nothing! I decided to start walking home as you can always hail the bus to stop any way… In the hour and a half that it took me to walk around the top half of the island not one bus passed me…
Lest to say come that night when I got home I was tired and saw (But what fun! What stupid “stupid” fun!)