It feels like we're moving quickly, comparatively. Last week we were anchored in Suwarrow, in the Cook Islands and this week we're in Apia, a small town in Western Samoa. But first, let me tell you about Suwarrow.
“Thank you for choosing Suwarrow as your holiday destination,” James says in jest as we prepare for our coconut crab feast.
James, a 200-plus pound Cook Islander with numerous tattoos scattered throughout his body, is one of two wardens living in this National Reserve. He and his assistant, Apii, are the only ones living on the island. Apii blesses our food and gives thanks to the powers above and then, in Cook Island tradition, first the kids eat, then the women and last, the men.
On the table is a mound of 17 cooked coconut crabs that we found in the forest at the other side of the Suwarrow atoll.
mmmm so delicious and sweet. "Leave some for us men," James comments as Kai, our not so adventurous eater, only takes a nibble of the crab leg.
Catching the crabs was not easy. Earlier in the day we ventured via dinghies about two miles to the other side of the atoll, where the terns, frigates and red-tailed tropic birds nest.
notice the long magnificent red tail on this tropic bird.
Here's one of the babies sitting in a not so fancy nest right on the ground.
Armed with sticks in hand, we searched under the coconut and pandanus trees, looking for visible signs of the coconut crab. The scenery was lush and the smell of the forest sweet and tangy, like citrus.
Look up and you can see the white terns courting on the branches.
Here's one of the smaller crabs climbing a coconut tree.
This one is too small for eating. We need to look under the tree and if we see a blue claw, we gently push the stick into the hole and ideally the crab would grasp the stick and then we’d pull it out and throw him into the large plastic Ikea bag. Maya and I teamed up with Frank and his family from the boat, Silver Lining. Frank, used to work as a fisherman in French Polynesia, so I knew he could catch crabs. We, well he, caught three big ones, but he also got stung by a wasp. As the saying goes, No pain no gain.
The only way to come to Suwarrow is via a sailing vessel. Tom Neale, a New Zealander lived here on and off for 25 years from 1952 until 1977 which seems like a long time to be alone on an island. He lived in the abandoned New Zealand military barracks, caught fish, grew vegetables and wrote a book detailing his time here, titled, An Island to Myself.
James, on the other hand, claims his book will be called, An Island to Share. And share he does. It feels like we’ve arrived at the Club Med for cruisers, with activities like sharkfeeding,
spear fishing, coconut crabbing, bonfires and potluck dinners. Healthy coral “bombers” and a small turtle live under Kamaya. The coral has purple, blue and yellow colors. Black tip reef sharks patrol the reef and moray eels lurk under the coral.
Humpback whales are beginning to enter the lagoon with their calves. You get the picture...it could be the Galapagos of the Pacific Islands.
During our week here, Maya and Kai had 10 other kids with them sharing the Robinson Crusoe island ...
playing capture the flag, flip the kayak, eating s’mores and even geocaching. Thanks to Whirlwind, a California couple, Suwarrow now has a hidden geocache, or treasure box that can be found with eagle eyes and a hand-held GPS. The cache is an appropriate addition to the activities on Suwarrow since rumor has it that in 1855, a treasure chest with $15,000 was found on the island. If you are ever in this part of the Pacific, a stop at Suwarrow is a definite must.
Here's a last photo of Maya showing James a bone from a bird she found on the island.
Here's another photo of Tim kiting catching some air in the crystal clear water. He's flying super high.
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