Such was my lack of knowledge of the region, many of the countries we were to visit on these missions where ones I never heard of before. I was aware of a few: like Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guiana… and the Cook Islands.
The flight to Cook Islands was rough. There was no direct flight from Melbourne so we had to fly to Auckland first. I can’t remember exactly when we left Melbourne but I do remember the flight to Rarotonga being delayed, and us departing Auckland after midnight. Our 3 hour flight was bumpy all the way, and we landed at around 3 in the morning (on the same day we left, since we crossed the date line). Fortunately the airport was still opened. Once we boarded the bus for the hotel, the driver said that it was another 45 minute drive to the hotel. He was joking — it was only about 5 minutes — but I didn’t take the joke well. I got to bed after 4 AM that night.