Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Was I Actually There? (Aitutaki) pt. 5

Once there, it's easy enough to see how miniscule One Foot Island got its name. It's one of the world's places that trades on its claim of having the world's smallest post office. True or not, once there we all had our postcards canceled and mailed at the tin-roofed pavilion/post office, although I balked at the idea of a foot-shaped souvenir stamp in my passport. You really don't need a passport to land on One Foot Island, so I don't go for the idea of disrespecting the pages of mine with 'novelty' stamps, no matter how exotic. The two boat's crews broke out the guitars and 'ukes' and serenaded us (as much as themselves, Cook Island folks love to sing) cooking us up a lunch of parrotfish fillets on the griddle. The crew cooked the up the skeletal remains (which still had plenty of sweet meat on the bones) for themselves and were pleased when I asked if I could gnaw on one (don't worry, Zaremba wasn't scarfing up all the poor crew's fish bones). I don't know if it was the grease, the cold 'VB' (Australia's Victoria Bitter -the beer of choice in The Cooks, although try the local 'Matutu' brew) or the tropical beauty of the whole scene, but I couldn't have thought of a better lunch, or place to be, in the whole world.

On the way back, we were treated to more songs and some of the most amazing snorkeling I'd ever enjoyed (and that includes Roatan, Belize and Bonaire). In the lagoon's shallow (about 14 feet) almost luminescent water we swam through flocks of bizarre Pacific species totally new to me -lavishly colored 'Picassofish' and bizarre, aptly named, Unicornfish. There, embedded in the coral heads, were the giant clams -bigger and better than ever pictured in childhood 'How And Why' books or 'The Golden Encyclopedia'. Okay then, but these things are real, say over 2 feet long (photo: thanks to Kristin Luna). Diving closer, you could see the the arabesque patterns on the clam's flesh begin to flash changing colors as it sensed the approach of a swimmer. When my hand got a bit too close, the until-then sedentary clam suddenly 'whooshed' shut. Made me think of those old south-sea flicks where one of these behemoth bivalves traps the foot of some hapless diver. You'd never break loose.