Friday, July 27, 2012

Rarotongan Honeymoon

It only took 4 years, but Mark and I FINALLY had our beautiful Rarotongan honeymoon.

Day 1 – our first day was overcast and we spent time just getting our bearings. It was Sunday so everything was closed and we ended up having an early dinner at Sails restaurant and Mark had a Frozen Fairy cocktail; enough said!

Day 2 –we went on a 4WD drive tour around the island and up into the bush which gave us a bit more perspective of layout of the island. We saw the abandoned Sheraton hotel which has become very overgrown; there’s a big story there but I need to do some more research. We went to see where the 7 canoes departed from to sail to Aotearoa and also went to a marae. I was expecting a NZ Maori marae, but what we saw was completely differently. It was really just a flat area surrounded by stones etc.  We met some lovely kiwis from Hamilton and then had a beautiful BBQ lunch with fresh tuna and fruit. We ended up having a pizza from a resort just down the road for dinner.

Day 3 –we just swam snorkelled and kayaked and ended up having burgers for lunch and dinner.

Day 4 – finally we caught the bus into Avarua to go to the supermarket. In hindsight we should have done this on the first day as it would have saved us so much money. Mark went for a huge kayak around the islands. Then we had an amazing BBQ tea.

Day 5 – halfway through our trip we had a very lazy day. We watched the lagoon cruise go out in the morning and then watched them come in and prepare for their second trip in the afternoon. Mark did another huge kayak. We had beautiful scrambled eggs for lunch. The weather was somewhat cooler. I finished my 4th book and almost through my 5th book. BBQ for tea.

Day 6 – we started the morning with a beautiful, refreshing kayak and a quick snorkel. Nothing wakes you up like falling out of your kayak. We then decided to hire scooters for a few days to get around…after much DRAMA we just decided against it and caught the bus home and went for an amazing snorkel which was probably about 2km in total. In the evening we went to Highland Paradise which was truly amazing and I will do a separate blog about that. Apparently, the land that the Sheraton is on is apparently owned by the Queen of Takitumu.

Day 7 – Saturday finally rolled around and we went to the markets very early. We met up with my birth mum (Sharleen) and her friends which was great. We bought a few presents and a bit of fruit and then came home. We got told that there was going to be a wedding front of our room and that we were “welcome” to watch….”um no”. About 5 minutes into the ceremony there was a huge downpour and they had to move. We had dinner with Sharleen and the girls and then went along to watch a plane land; which is quite freaky.

Day 8 – we went to church with Sharleen and the girls and then caught the clockwise (no anti-clockwise bus on Sunday) bus back to the hotel. It was so windy that the guys were all out on the lagoon kite surfing. It was too rough to swim or kayak.

Day 9 – we woke up to the wind and a note for checkout which meant our holiday was nearly over. It was a very cold, windy day and then the rain set in. So we spent the day curled up reading and Mark started his third book (which is amazing considering Mark NEVER reads) and I started my eighth.

Day 10 – our final day dawned and we were a bit sad. We packed and checked out to the lounge and caught the bus into town for a final look around. We had brunch at Salsa and then came back for a quick swim in the pool and the lagoon. The water in the lagoon was the warmest it had been.

What is incredible is that Rarotonga is virtually untouched and it is absolute paradise for the people that call it home and for those that are just visiting. The sky is just clear and the stars are breath-taking. The sweet smell of the native jasmine and the last of the frangipani add an alluring sweet smell to the air.

Things we learned:
  • Arrive a day before the markets so that you can go and pick up fresh fruit, vegetables and fish and go to the supermarket
  • Pack half the amount of clothes and bring a bit of extra food
  • Hire push bikes to explore the island at your leisure
  • Buy a 10-trip bus ticket
  • Do not FORK out $100’s for scooters
  • Bring worm tablets for cats
  • Plan for a few special meals out
  • Snorkel, swim and kayak heaps on the fine days as when it is cold and windy you cannot play in the water
  • Kayaking is much easier in a lagoon vs. the sea
  • Book a couple more “experiences”. We are planning to do the Highland Paradise day tours, Koko Lagoon Cruises and we might try Te Vara Nui for comparison
  • Take more photos
  • Lose weight
  • Have a pedicure before I go
  • Find out more about the Cook Islands
  • Have more cocktails
  • Allow maybe an hour each day for a nap, but then make the most of the rest of the time
  • Muri Beachcomber was the loveliest place to say
  • Muri Beach is spectacular
  • If you do not want to lug 13 books with you then take your e-reader 
  • Cafe Salsa is fantastic. We went 3 times!

We have decided to go back to Rarotonga in late July/early August next year in time for their constitutional celebrations. It means that we need to start saving for this now in conjunction with saving for a house. Exciting changes are afoot for us.

Mark said to me that the holiday made him realise that there is “more to life than work”. This made me very happy as he gets super stressed at work. Hopefully, he will also continue reading books to relax and I have already requested the first two books in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. We both needed a break as my dad has been extremely sick and both our fathers have to have heart surgery in the next few weeks. We have returned rested and ready to support our families.

1. Our room. 2. Beautiful rainbow over the lagoon. 3. Mark and I by the waterfall. 4. The abandoned Sheraton. 5. The circle of 7 stones representing the 7 Vaka’s that left for Aotearoa. 6. Where the Vaka’s sailed from. 7. Marae. 8. Raro Safari Tours and coconuts with new growth. 9. The photo that proves that Mark read while we were away. 10. Warrior at Highland Paradise. 11. Willie (our guide) showing how a coconut can be grated on Highland Paradise tour. 12. Beautiful dancers at Highland Paradise. 13. A row of Magic Bullets at the Saturday market. 14. Church. 15. Estelle one of the resident cats. 16. No name kitty…a local cat.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Emotional eating...Part 500?

I have written about emotional eating before so not really going to repeat myself over and over.

Suffice to say I did not even come close to reaching my weight-loss and fitness goals for Rarotonga. At this point I can do a bit of exercise, watch my food intake and then have a fabulous holiday. I am going to be overweight in Rarotonga and I do not really care as I just want to have a really nice time.

My dad has been in hospital for nearly a week and so evenings have been about visiting him, then phoning my mum to talk after our visit. Then we have been helping out at my parents by cleaning in preparation for my dad’s next couple of surgeries. I really thought that I could manage my emotional response so that I did not just eat, but apparently I am NOT there yet. I also had a couple of evenings where I drank cider. There was one day when I just stayed in the couch and slept; this is unheard of for me so I realised that I was not coping with him being unwell.  
We have almost completely stopped going to the gym at night and cannot face going in the mornings. I am totally bored with my cardio workouts and I have realised that I have to add strength training back in for variety and strength and also add weekend walks back in.

So my plan for the next few months is simple:
  • Enjoy our holiday, eat well, walk, swim etc.
  • Start back at the gym when we return (either morning or evening) and incorporate strength training Bob Harper style :)
  • Walk on the weekends
  • Plan our meals and stop having takeaways
  • Bring lunch 4 out of 5 days

Should be pretty simple right?

And remember that Bex’s friend said to her “you get the body you work for”. I cannot expect to change my body if my eating is out of control and my exercise is next to nothing.

Wedding and Saving Money

Lately Mark and I have been talking seriously about buying a house. This is no small step especially for a non-saver such as myself! It also brings back memories of the nightmarish 6 months leading up to our wedding.

Given that it was our 4th wedding anniversary last week it seems timely to blog about this.

When Mark proposed he never intended for us to have a long engagement. His reasoning was that if you propose; why wait for years to get married. I think I could have coped with a year between, however due to a peculiar set of circumstances we set the date slightly less than 6 months from our engagement. We also had to go to Melbourne for Mark’s sister’s wedding as well.

Can I just say that this was possibly THE MOST STRESSFUL 6 months of my entire life! Truly, I am surprised that I did not lose weight from the sheer stress of saving like crazy people. There were weeks when I did not think that we could feed ourselves and our cats. Two days before our wedding we had $20 in the bank. It was utterly ridiculous.

I remember car rides home when I just cried the entire way. One huge issue for me was accommodation. My birth family owns holiday accommodation and this was the venue for our wedding; trying to fit everyone into the accommodation available was a nightmare. Seriously, I should have just said “there is limited accommodation and this will be reserved for older friends and family and other people can stay here, here and here”.

The worst thing is, is that now I have so much more experience with weddings and the planning that goes into them I could easily organise our wedding within 6 months and probably save so much money and stress. I am sure that my sisters’ learnt from my mistakes. Also, everyone else had fairy lights and the bubble machine at their weddings!

I wish I had delegated a bit more leading up to our day, but all the lists were in my head instead of on paper.

I should have used an iPod playlist instead of a DJ.

I should not have spent $720 on a cake!

Two of my bridesmaid’s staged an intervention when I had not bought a dress with just 3 months to go. Suffice to say I had actually ordered it about 2 days before the intervention.

However, thanks to our friends and family we had the most amazing wedding day. It started to drizzle in the morning and I just lay in bed and smiled. I always thought that rain on my wedding day would be my undoing, but it was not. In the middle of the ceremony the sun shone through the clouds creating beautiful rays of light.

We also came out the other side of our day with NO DEBT; which was a huge relief. This was testament to our savings and also the help of family.

So I figure if we can get through 6 months of pain then we can definitely save for a house.

The best thing is that we finally get to have our honeymoon 4 years after our wedding. I am not postponing it for anyone. We are going to the beautiful Cook Islands for an amazing break. We cannot wait!