As already mentioned, we stayed at the Are Manuiri Guesthouse, a very good choice. This typical bungalow residence in the center of the village, very comfortable and cheap (33 Euros for a double room), offers a pleasant living room, kitchen-use and three bedrooms. And there are no mosquitoes there, a real pleasure after being under attack in Aitutaki! As everywhere on the Cook Islands roosters compete crowing against each other around 03:00 am, something we could not get used to.
The owners of the house, Juergen und Andrea, a German couple who has lived in Atiu for 26 years, also has a coffee plantation and an Art studio. Of course we toured the plantation where Juergen explained and demonstrated the process of growing and processing Arabica coffee and who their costumers are. It was fascinating to listen to his success story that without any doubt is the result of hard work, determination and wisely cooperating with local people.
Andrea’s studio left Heidi in an emotional uproar, because of the high quality and beauty of the textiles produced by her and two local women. It started in 1986 with a single sewing machine and is today a dynamic three woman team in an 80 square meter studio, gallery and shop. Frankly, we had expected another one of those “artists” who decided to live on an island, but what we saw there was mind-boggling.
The art and craft work combines colorful Polynesian patterns with contemporary design and innovative techniques of sewing and embroidery. They are most famous for their Tivaevae, a kind of patchwork, where unquilted pieces of textiles are applied to larger pieces, often embellished with intricate embroidery. Heidi could not leave without at least purchasing two “souvenirs”.