This was a trip of a life-time for more than one reason, and the reason for going to Rarotonga requires a bit of a back-story:
In 1978, I was an American Field Service (AFS) high school exchange student from Montana who lived with a family in New Zealand for one year. The family I lived with had two daughters and two sons. The girls were the oldest, one being my age (at the time, 17) and the other a year older. (Coincidentally, all three of our birthdays are the same month and day, but that is another story for another time.)
I have been back to New Zealand twice to visit since the year I lived there. The first return visit was in 1981 when I was in college and when my youngest host brother was 16. My second visit was with my husband the year we got married in 1989, but my youngest host brother had moved to Australia, and we did not see him. We lost contact, but my host sisters stayed in touch, and then via Facebook, we reconnected and my “little” brother invited me to attend his wedding in 2013 in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. My husband was unable to go, so my sister went with me. This is the first time my sister and I had ever traveled together, and it was her first trip overseas.
The most memorable moment was having my biological sister meet my host siblings and having her understand the bond I have with them. This picture was taken on a deserted beach with no people in sight where I was watching them all laugh together and enjoy each other’s company.
I have not been back, but would return in a heartbeat. I will never be able duplicate the special event and feelings attached to this trip, but I would love to try!