by I. van den Berg
by I. van den Berg
Day of arrival..
A reception with jukalele tunes and fresh flowers welcomes me to my stay in Paradise.. I drop of my belongings at Lagoon Breeze Villa's, my home during my stay..
If you deside to make the Cook Islands your home for a week or two, you will land on Rarotonga airport and a friendly face will shuttle you to the resort of your choice.. The lagoon that surrounds the island is always only a glimps away..
25 meters from the entrance of my resort my feet are gently overflowed by cristal clear blue running into green Lagoon water.. Pure bliss and feel my words to be true because I know what we are missing out on.. The sound of the open ocean slaming into the reef 250 m out is filtered by undefinable amouts of fresh island air.. Behind the reef a dark drop lies.. A never to be experienced abis is kept far far from me being one with nature..
Before the hunt, man's pleasure will always have her way.. I let myself drift till the daily ?homeworld rat race? has left my thoughts..
Time on Rarotonga moves in a different pace to what us Europeans are used to and there is only one thing you can do. Leave home at home, except for your goal and travel companions. Which in my case is finding my way through many layers of island culture that should not be underestimated.. My transport of choice: a 125cc scooter on which no helmet is required. Boys will never age, so I will always scoot my way across the islands to find that right batch..
But first things first.. See my island family and pay tribute for it's been to long.. I am blessed to have family in paradise. The name I have been given by the Cook Island people is Tumutoa which means warrior. It is a name of power but I will stay humble under the notion of it..
The pearl trail is waiting..
A big island breakfast containing the best the island has to offer is enjoyed as the island wakes up.. Food is Love.. After a lagoon dive and a beach shower I set of to see to hear more about the weather conditions around the lagoons over the past seasons.. Good weather conditions are vital for a quality pearl produce.. I always try to stay up to date with Pacific nature from Holland but I feed on first hand island information.
This time around I feel I will buy in several places.. Don't get me wrong.. I will buy where nature takes me.. It is the ever changing island way.. And it will take some island family to be able to bring the beauty home.. I do my first sit down to find out about waether conditions around Manihiki where most of the farmers I know are situated..
The island people like to slow life down and before you know it It becomes real to you..
"Relax and enjoy our island.." they say and they make you feel like you are home.. The Cook Island people are Maori like the people in New Zealand but there is a difference.. I say they are warmer, friendlier and just that little bit cooler 'as in? easy going of course..
This year I find myself close to one of my island family members.. No outsides will be able to step into this world and I feel blessed to be back.. I brought my own work this time around and a proper trade is made after a couple hours of kicking up dust and nibbling away on ika ' mata or raw fish.. First batch of pearls is in the pocket.. When buying I aim for a wide range of pearls consisting of A - D grade Black Pearls, baroques and of course a big bag of Keshi's..
Another breakfast at the Lagoon Breeze Villas resort wakes me with prime coffee, paw paw, mango and of course cereal.. The daily lagoon dive is short because I have the need of new contact.. Since the family is big and spread out over the island I take of to one the markets that offers a wide range of island produce.. I always ask my aunties which of the surrounding stands is owned by a local family and who has the freshest fish and fruit juice.. The markets always show friendly faces all round but I want a pearl farmer's smile fo pull me in today.. Propper knowledge and genuine smile will get you where you need to be..
It's not long before my eye catches some weird looking pearls.. Being a pearl man I tend to fall in love with the mother nature's unusual but beautiful creations.. A 14 mm sperm cell shaped quicksilver luster pearl glues me to the gravel.. I am introducted to Mama Ivy who makes me feel comfortable in the hot South Pacific sun.. She is a pearlfarmer who?s children have mastered the art of seeding.. This is unusual since a big part of the pearl surgeons are still flown in from Asia.. I will meet them all during my stay this year..
I feel the right information is reaching my ear and I express my interest in her produce and explain my background.. I throw island family bounds in the mix and find common grounds from where we can set up a meet.. Don't think you will walk up and get an invite to someones house.. It simply does work that way.. You will still get a buy set up but full acces will not be granted.. A beautiful day is born for me because I am invited to the family house..
Next to business I also came to the island for a holiday and at the end of my first week I want to relax and enjoy and do nothing but that.. I take a ride to Muri Beach where small islands fill the Lagoon.. A Mahi-Mahi sandwich and a passion fruit and mango juice make up my lunch.. After talking to some local fisherman about todays catch I head out with my camera to shoot some water shots of the surroundings.. Everywhere I look I see smiles and enjoyment.. What a beautiful kept secret this place is..
You should know that you can fly to Rarotonga straight from L.A. these days.. You can be here to do what I do, drifting around at Muri Beach without booking out of the way plane tickets.. Two thousand Euro will buy you an Amsterdam, Los Angelos, Rarotonga, Sydney, Hong Kong and back to Schiphol ticket.. You will find that it is worth every cent..
Bad sleep will happen to us Westeners and this island summer night brought me maybe two hours of sleep.. Even after putting my head down after my Breeze breacky I still wasn't able to work out my thoughts of the days past and meets to come.. My brain is extra active during my stays on Rarotonga.. I need that overflow to make sure I take in all the Pacific has to offer..
I have an 11 AM meet with Mama Ivy.. Head of her clan..
The power of the clans is strong on the island but you won't know who is in front of you.. Western influence, which is a word that included Asia on this side, is upcoming and pushing strong.. Foreign voices speak future as they always have.. Coming face to face with the family leaders, farmers and land owners will make you turn small.. There is no limit to natural humbleness to get your purchase..
I am invited into a classroom of open island nature where I am given an insight in pearl culture in her family.. The Black lipped mussel needs years of study and only the people who spend their days on Manihiki will be able to lay it out for you.. My knowledge has is updated and respect has grown even wider whilst talking to Mama Ivy.. A family leader, a true pearl farmer who has survived outside influence and has grown her children into future professors of the Black Pearl.. I loved her for giving me new insight into the talk of monopoly pearl trade.. There is no such thing as only ?one? party offering high grade Cook Island Black Pearls.. It is an open market and I drove of with a spectacular range of deep, bright lusters.. I was shown a batch of 10 mm beautiful wide color base luster B grade pearls and they are mine to introduce to our markets on the northern hemisphere..
Don't get small in thinking my friends.. The diamant trade lockdowns in trade will not be one of your problems in your jewelry idea's.. We have access to these beauties and it has been kept from us for too long.. I am open to you when you feel the need of a talk and finding understanding.. Contact me via Daniel Moesker.. I fly out every year to collect the new harvest and I will be honored to help you find what you are looking for..
Western Union on my mind.. Leaving home I forgot to cash up.. Luckily Rarontona provides everything us Westeners need.. I think there are four Western Union offices and plenty of banks no more than 10 min clock wise or counter wise as the busses go..
Today I will take care of the financial side my buys.. As long as you always stick to your side of the deal..!!
?Don't missuse the trust these people give you..!!? You will have life long friends in paradise in return.. Life is beautiful on the island and it is also on us to keep it that way.. After the money run I go see one of the lander owners who helps out at the schools.. She does big lunchs for hundreds of school kids and I love hanging around there.. Feasting on her garden in between hours which is filled with pawpaw and mango trees.. I love it..
There are many islanders who have stepped up in the battle for conservation of the island group The Cook Islands.. The preservation of nature is in constant danger of being lost to our consumer society.. Marine reserve and the Pearl Authorities are two of the main bodies who strive to preserve the quality of the lagoons and reefs.. without this determination all can be lost in too short a time..
My last days are spend learning about new steps in preservation and how I can help by making all of you understand how important our fragile nature is..
I want to give you the opportunity to help.. In my next artikel I will explain how you can do this and what you will get in return of your donation.. Please look forward to my next ?Pacific Adventure? article..
This is I. van den Berg from Rarotonga Lagoon Breeze Delight signing out.. I will tell you more about my next stay in my next artikel..
Be good people and treasure our nature for it is all we have..