I was in the Cook Islands for seven days before flying to Tahiti in French Polynesia on February 3rd. It rained every day I was there, though not all day, so I did have some nice sun.
Why go? Well, because I was never in the South Pacific, so I just had to. Besides, it got me over the top--that is, I now have visited over a hundred countries, always a goal of mine. I am now at 102, expecting to hit 130 or so by age 80 in 2022. I have always loved traveling, starting in 1946 with a month-long trip out west with my family, coming back on Route 66. I have been to all 50 states and all seven continents on 52 foreign trips. It's a great source of joy, and since Dorothy passed away last year, it is good therapy.
These photos were taken on the island of Raratonga in the Cook Islands. I hiked across the whole island, a grueling trek in very hot and humid conditions, with extremely steep and muddy trails.
I flew to Tahiti in French Polynesia on February 3rd, staying until the 10th. It, too, was very hot, very humid, and very rainy (some parts of every day, but sun, as well). Tahiti is a volcanic island, formed about 5000 years ago. It is roughly a circle of 20 miles in diameter, connected to a much smaller island by an isthmus. It's highest mountain is a bit over 1500 feet high.
On February 10th I flew to Noumea, new Caledonia, staying for just three days. Too bad, as the weather was perfect. Dew points in the 50s, low humidity, and no rain. But the terrain was not very interesting, though I had a nice hotel right on a beautiful beach with nice palms around. I had a great chance to get a photo of a topless young lady in a grass skirt on the beach--but my battery was dead.
On February 14th I flew to Port Vila, Vanuatu. Again, a short stay, this time only two days. I could not control my stays, as inter-island flights are very hard to schedule, as they often only go once or twice a week.
On February 16th, I flew to Honiara in the Solomon Islands. Honiara is on the island of Guadalcanal, site of the first major victory the US had over the Japanese. Japan built a big airbase there, and we attacked the island on August 7th, 1942. The battle was always important for me, as I was born 10 days later, on the 17th. I often imagined the ship, air, and ground battles that raged for months, while I gave my mother lesser battles. By February 1943, 1762 Americans and 24,000 Japanese had died. I stayed in a private house right in the path of US ground attacks. A construction foreman a block away, where a church is being built, told me they found 17 live Japanese grenades in a filled-in foxhole on top of a ridge. We need to keep reminding ourselves how thankful we should be that such sacrifices were made by our military personnel, especially under such brutal environmental conditions, including heat, humidity, disease and filth. Unimaginable!
On February 24th, I flew to Fiji for a short visit of three days. But I saw a lot of beautiful scenes, nonetheless. Finally, I was getting much less rain--though the heat and humidity still oppressed.
On February 22nd, I flew to Tonga, which had just suffered through a category 4 hurricane two weeks earlier. Devastation was widespread, with only the city of Nuku Alofa with power, even when I arrived. Tonga has the friendliest people I ever encountered in all my travels. So many people greet you and want to talk. I had lots of fun. Only Samoa came close to Tonga in that respect. Another similarity with Samoa--about a third of men wear skirts that extend well below the knees, a holdover from their traditional dress of centuries past.
On February 25th, I flew to Samoa, the last island group I visited. Like most of the others, it is a geologically young volcanic island, so the mountains are steep--and beautiful. It is an independent country, but nearby American Samoa, geologically of the same origin, is an American possession. I went there on a time machine, as I left on Wednesday, the 28th and arrived on Tuesday, the 27th (I have the schedule to prove it).
So, am I done traveling? No, on March 27th I'm off for 15 days to South Africa, where I will rent a car to drive from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and maybe points east. And I have tentative plans for lots of trips (I say trips, not vacations, as I have no intention of resting) until I am 80 (and then many more places after that--if I am ambulatory and have a functioning brain).
Be well and travel safely,