Tales and trails

The Press - Escape - - RAROTONGA -

– mo­tioned to us to pull in at the road­side. We were be­neath an im­pres­sive-look­ing tree with flow­ers not dis­sim­i­lar to po­hutukawa, but white with pretty pink tips in­stead of red.

Re­becca gave us each one to hold and told us the seeds of this tree, called the utu, had nar­cotic prop­er­ties. Ground up and put in the sea, they would mildly poi­son the fish be­low and cause them to float to the top where they could eas­ily be caught. This was no longer prac­tised be­cause it dam­aged the reef, she said.

In the old days, tribes would use theutu in asim­i­lar­way dur­ing war­fare, Re­becca told us, grind­ing the seeds and putting them in the en­emy’s wa­ter sup­ply – it’s hard to fight when you’re high as a kite.

With that quirky bit of knowl­edge on board, we cy­cled on along the Ara Metua, the an­cient coral road that runs in­land, ap­par­ently built through the swamps some 1000 years ago by a chief called Toi.

The next stop was a piece of land owned by Re­becca’s fam­ily. We parked our bikes and walked down a path, past the ubiq­ui­tous taro patch and into a pineap­ple field. I picked my first-ever

Rack and ruin: Tourists on a Sto­ry­tellers bike tour of Raro­tonga stop to in­ves­ti­gate the aban­doned, partly built Sher­a­ton Ho­tel, its mis­for­tune sup­pos­edly the le­gacy of a cen­tury-old curse.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.