I just want to make a note here for anyone contemplating a visit to the Cooks. It’s illegal to land in the islands without reservations for a place to stay. (They don’t want 'hippies' camping on the beaches.) So you have to reserve a place to stay before you get on the plane. But making the reservation is something you have to be VERY PATIENT with.
I work in the computer world. If someone doesn’t answer an e-mail from me in a day or two I assume they must be sick on vacation, or mad at me. And I’m used to making travel reservations instantly on the net. But in the Cooks no one has the slightest incentive to answer e-mail or any other kind of mail expeditiously. So they don’t! The first place I chose on the eastern side of the island, a bungalow up on the hillside overlooking the lagoon, didn’t respond. I waited 10 days, assumed the proprietor must be dead, and then sent another note explaining that because I’d never heard anything and because my plane was leaving for Australia in two weeks I was withdrawing my request and sending a note to someone else. The next day I got a note saying they were just getting to my mail. I sent a request to another place and waited 11 days. Then I sent a note that said, "I’m assuming your e-mail system is broken so I’ll send my request again - several times a day - in hopes that one of my messages will eventually land on your server". Faced with the threat of inundation they got back to me right away, the day before I was to leave.
I don’t think of myself as a harried person, in fact just the opposite: relaxed and easy-going - but I sometimes got the impression in the Cooks that the entire population was on drugs. I mean there’s island time and a casual approach to life, and then there’s downright hypnotic somnambulannce. Wait a minute. I should reframe that last remark. I found the people wonderfully polite, considerate, intelligent, capable, well-spoken and affable. I know that, since folks in the Cooks are mostly devout and trying hard to live a good and genuine life, drugs are the last things anyone is on. But if you come from a culture where people talk fast, drive fast, and push themselves hard – as I do - then a vacation in the Cooks might actually drive you insane before you learn to relax. Or maybe we're insane now and the Cooks are a good place to find sanity. I know. Speak for myself.