Thea Pijpers

1 2 3 4

Soon after my arrival in the Cook Islands, more than 15 years ago, I decided to buy a car. At the time this was easier said than done as cars were scarce and only a limited number of makes and models were available. This has changed; today there is an excessive supply of vehicles. Many families now own two cars or more. But at the time the choice was restricted. For me, there was only one suitable vehicle available for me to buy. This was a Daihatsu Charade which had belonged to a government department. It was actually quite a cute car. The number plate was 1 2 3 4, which I thought was rather original and funny.

I used to park my car on the left hand side of my house where there was then a grassy area alongside which is a little stream that flows into the lagoon. There were not many plants around my new house initially, and much work needed to be done to create a garden. I spent every day planting trees and flowering shrubs. It is not an easy task trying to establish vegetation when you are living on the beach with a salty prevailing breeze blowing off the shore. I introduced palm trees, pandanas, hibiscus etc. It was a lot of work, but really a labour of love which gave me great satisfaction. Every day I carefully observed the progress of these plants. Even on my sandy soil the shrubbery seemed to be flourishing.

As everything for me was new territory on “my” Island. I did not worry too much about high tides and stormy weather. Of course I’d been told of the enormous power of nature, but I couldn’t actually imagine it in my mind. Well, the bad weather arrived, the heavens were angry and it rained steadily for three days and nights. I checked outside every hour. I was very anxious. The ground was saturated but seemed stable, until about 9 am on the third morning when almost imperceptibly slowly, the ground under my car seemed to come alive and began sinking centimeter by centimeter into the stream which by now was a raging torrent. Naturally, I too was experiencing that awful sinking feeling… It was quite spectacular. People from nearby arrived with ropes hoping to stop my car from becoming submerged, but their efforts were unsuccessful. My cute car kept sinking until it followed the boiling stream into the lagoon. For some time the numbers 1 2 3 4 were still visible. Eventually, a very clever man organized a crane and my car was hauled back on to high ground. But I was desolate. No more a cute car. The radio was gone and much more. I saw the radio floating away. The gods were not with me that day. The whole story could have been quite funny if it hadn’t been so serious, abnd lyou might have enjoyed a laugh if the car didn’t belong to you.

At the time of this drama, the Cook Islands Television crew were filming this event. Thereafter, the situation was highlighted by the fact that every time there was a disaster being aired on television, my clip with the number plate 1 2 3 4 would appeared…

It was not humorous at the time, but when I look back it amuses me now

All these stories are real. Everything happened on this beautiful island. Good or bad things I still love it here. It is a love affair
Thea Pijpers
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Published on on 10/11/2011.


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