Yesterday the Esperanza arrived … well, sort of. Rarotonga in the Cook Islands is unlikely to have 3 large ships coming into port in a fortnight, let alone in 2 days. But that’s exactly what happened!
Despite having to wait until today for the ship to actually come alongside the wharf, we had an amazing welcome event. The ship sailed into the harbour and the crew came out on RHIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats) and joined us on the dock for a traditional welcome.
Bedecked in traditional flower garlands called “eis” (not leis, so all of my bad puns were unfortunately not applicable), the international crew were a sight to see – Greenpeace t-shirts decorated in stunning, sweetly scented flowers, containing very happy crew members who sat and watched the spectacle in the warm afternoon sun.
My cheeks hurt from smiling so much, the dancing was beautiful, the singing harmonious and touching, the speeches by the Environment Minster, the Captain and our CEO were heartfelt and moving. What a day. The warmth of the greeting was obvious to everyone there.
There was one stand-out quote from the Director of Environment Services (this is a loose quote from memory): “We have a saying on the Island. When someone farts on the other side of the island, we can smell it here. This is what is happening with climate change. People in countries very far away are farting [by releasing toxic gases like CO2], but we are the ones who have to smell it and deal with the consequences.”
I took lots of beautiful photos of the children in their bold and colourful traditional outfits. The man who performed a traditional welcome that involved a lot of spear waving and angry faces (without the translation it would have been difficult to interpret the words as ones of welcome) and many hip-swinging manoeuvres (I may have to learn Polynesian dancing now, it is so incredible to watch.) I will add some here as soon as I can get a better internet connection.