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Raro day 3: the markets and a wedding

Saturday arrived and with it the main purpose of the trip. First priority of the day though was to visit the Punanga Nui markets in Avarua. Billed as a must-visit we were keen to go but not at the expense of our holiday sleep-in!

The buses supposedly run twice an hour on market day but this wasn’t our experience and so we got there later than intended. First impressions made me itchy to start racing around – big open space, lots of craft and food stalls, lots of people.

It was hot, damn hot, and sunny. Though not for long. For lunch the hot chicken pita pockets called out to us and before we’d finished them it started raining. It was nearing midday and we scurried around the last few stalls, picking up a small wooden turtle as the traditional trip keepsake to take home.

Rain on the way?

The markets, a fantastic place for souvenirs, crafts and lunch

With the dubious bus schedule in mind and a wedding to think about getting ready for, we gathered at what we assumed was the bus stop where lo and behold, a service arrived on time.

Back at the ranch, or resort at least, I had enough time for a brief wrestle with the internet during which time it rained again. Still, this was the opposite side of the island to the wedding venue and given the nature of tropical climate rain, it wasn’t worth worrying about the forecast for later on.

Then it really was time to start the process of getting ready and I could’ve done with longer as rushed to get finished in time for our scheduled pick-up. With a couple of other collections along the way, we reached the venue with 45 minutes to spare so there was ample time to check the place out.

Tamarind House “is a beautifully restored heritage colonial house set on 2.5 acres of lawns sweeping down to the beach. … You can enjoy a feeling of nostalgia for a bygone era in the peaceful seclusion of our truly unique tropical setting.” Dating back to 1910ish it was first the residence of Union Steamship Company management and later the British Consul. Today it is a restaurant and a rather perfect wedding venue as well.

The other girls had also arrived and all looked gorgeous in their various dresses. It was hot and sunny and I kicked myself for not buying a woven fan from the markets as they had. There was a strong warm breeze which quickly dealt to the hair that I had carefully blown dry. O well.

Gradually the remainder of the guests arrived and all 50ish of us gathered near the deck above the beach where the ceremony was to be held. The groom and his best man (actually his son) were in position… and… waiting…

Tamarind House was a fabulous venue - beach and sea views out front and rugged hills behind

No matter where you go, coconuts are never far away

We didn't know whether to be amused or dismayed when a black cat wandered in and proceeded to make itself at home

The string band were ‘given the nod’ and resumed playing as the first of the flower girls peeked around the corner. One by one they walked in, followed by Sally’s sister as matron of honour, and then Sally with her dad. They all looked wonderful. Sally was never going to do the full white traditional thing and her silver dress was gorgeous and so very her.

After a brief pause while a tissue was procured for the emotional bride!, the ceremony got underway. It was relatively short and before long we had a newly married couple standing before us. Congratulations flowed and group photo organisation began.

We get our first glimpse of Sally

The ceremony gets underway

Sally and Michael, relaxed now that the first part is over

The flowergirls were the stars of the day

While the main wedding photos were being taken we did our best to keep cool

...Until it was our turn

As the afternoon turned to twilight we moved into the restaurant. Speeches were followed by a lovely meal. With darkness firmly ensconced we were then treated to a cultural show comprising drummers and dancers. I’ve always loved Cook Islands drums and really enjoyed this unexpected part of the night. The dancing was both traditional (everyone marvelling at the fluidity of the girls’ hips) and supplemented with fire sticks. Great skills.

Twas a beautiful calm night

The cultural show was a highlight, starting with iconic drums and hypnotic hips

Mike and I found ourselves part of the entertainment - and no we haven't since given up our day jobs

Most children are taught not to play with fire

The spectacular finale featuring all of the dance troupe

The rest of the night involved DJ tunes and dancing (of a different kind from before) for keen ones, or else just sitting around chatting and enjoying the setting. And if you were me, nursing a stupid headache. We had to be wrapped up before midnight and in the same way that the day started with a late bus, so it ended that way too. When it arrived we all crammed aboard for the clockwise procession of drop-offs.

It’s probably safe to say that every one of us was grateful to Sally and Michael for choosing Raro to have their wedding and making us all come to this fantastic place.

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