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Cook Islands Immigration - Pork In A Slow Cooker.
Cook Islands Immigration
Justin Friend - Travel Guide & a PNG Chief
Justin Friend was our most welcome guest on Wednesday evening, 7 September 2011. Had Justin wished to give his talk a title, it might have been “Strange Goings-on in the Islands of the Pacific”. Introduced by our own veteran of world travel, Wayne Kearns, Justin’s topic was not precisely defined, but his presentation was a story of enterprise, adventure, (and at times misadventure), comedy, cultural exploration, gastronomic experience, and much else besides – and very entertaining.
Justin is the Expedition Programme Manager for Orion Cruises, with the responsibility for developing the expedition side of operations. He arrived at our meeting straight from the airport, having just got back from a visit to Hamilton Island. His talk, however, took us to many more exotic places than Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, notwithstanding the many qualities of that natural wonder of the world.
Space does not permit me to give a detailed account of all his experiences, so those who had the misfortune to miss the evening will have to do with some of the highlights. Justin “cut his teeth” in Papua New Guinea, where he shared life with the villagers to the extent that he became a village chieftain – with the right, as we understood it, to as many wives as he chose. As he showed us in one of the slides, he wore a necklace of ten shells, each one representing one wife: but as he assured us when questioned by Phillip Chee, he confined his uxorial activities to the wife he had already.
The Solomon Islands claimed that Justin was the saviour of tourism to their nation. When Justin visited a beautiful lake there, he discovered that the cliffs which surrounded it made it inaccessible for tourists. He was determined avoid speaking English, which meant evading the company of the only other English speaker on the island, a policeman from New Zealand. He endured for some days, in tropical temperatures, before discovering that the officer was the occupant of the only air-conditioned accommodation available. Boredom was only relieved by looking at the wreck of the “World Discoverer”, a cruise ship which had run aground some years before and had been looted during the civil war which had been raging in the Islands. Life got rather less boring when, as a part of the somewhat lurid political life of the Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza (at various times Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Minister for various things, and alleged wheeler-dealer), was arrested and served a term in prison for (inter alia) plotting against the government.
Justin regaled us with plenty of other stories. Four hundred soldiers went on strike while he was visiting East Timor: he found himself surrounded by hundreds of guys with guns – an unsettling experience. In Indonesia on one of the islands, he met a man who claimed knowledge of sundry Australian ports and towns, all across the top end. When questioned about the source of his knowledge, the man cheerfully admitted that he had visited, and been returned from, various immigration detention centres. In the same place he was offered flying fox for dinner – it tasted at least as bad as it smelt. Another gourmet experience was gutted frog – according to Justin, marginally less revolting than the fruit bat. In Dili he was accommodated in a house which had electricity, but no switches. The only way of turning off the light was to remove the bulb, which resulted in severely singed fingers. In Rabaul he was photographed sitting on a 1000lb bomb (that’s about 454.5 kilograms), and lived to tell the tale.
Finally to Malakula, an island in the Vanuatu Franco-British condominium. The first European discovery is believed to have been by a Spanish explorer named de Quiros. Typically for the time (1606) he made landfall, shot the natives who were silly enough to show themselves, declared himself king and knighted his entire crew. This called into question his sanity, and somewhat diminished the credibility of his discovery. The Frenchman Bougainville was next, closely followed by our old mate James Cook. It is said that the name of the island was derived from the French phrase “mal au cul”, (which literally means “pain in the backside”), owing to the combination of cannibalism, volcanic eruptions and other unpleasant aspects of it which would have displeased both Bougainville and Cook. However, that is by the by, because it was here that Justin came into contact with a culture remarkable for its fascination and its diversity.
He was taken to a deep hole in the ground, which he described as having a spiritual quality unlike anything else he had experienced. In this hole was the story of creation – stones as the origins of civilisation, skulls as the sons of civilisation, limestone as the keeper of souls. There was the sound of wind, representing the soul of every human being. Every baby must receive a soul from this place. And so the story is perpetuated. Justin saw pottery 5-10 thousand years old; stone phalluses to s
Cuban cook Mrs. Maria Hidalgo from Cuba gave a Cuban cuisine demonstration at Expressiones Cultural Center in New London. A great experience that provided us a new vision of Cuba, its culture and its inhabitants. Public could see and try the flavors and richness of the Cuban cuisine. Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area. For historical reasons, the Cuban population was not equally distributed along the island. Africans were a majority in the sugar cane plantations, but in most of the cities they constituted a minority. Tobacco plantations were inhabited mainly by poor Spanish peasants, mostly from the Canary Islands. The eastern part of the island also received massive quantities of French, Haitian and Caribbean immigrants, mainly during the Haitian Revolution, as well as seasonal workers for the sugar cane harvest, while the western part did not, receiving instead European, mostly Spanish, immigration well into the 1950s. Thus Cuban cuisines developed locally, from the influences and demographics specific to each area. Cuban cuisine is very different from Mexican cuisine, a fact which sometimes comes as a surprise to visitors from Canada, the United States or Europe. While Mexican cuisine is primarily a mix of Spanish and Aztec traditions, Cuban food has been influenced by many traditions, owing to the complex history of the Caribbean area.
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