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Or, that is the theory, at least. I thought I was coming over for a short visit before somethiing off to carry on with the rat race of life. But while the famous explorer died inWilliam wasn't born until at least Bob turns and looks out across the lagoon. The question is, how many of them will return?
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Even the boat we arrived in - a mere 34ft 10m long - had to be moored m off the beach to avoid striking the coral. Today, all but three of the residents are direct descendants of William.
This is the journey to the island at the end feiends the earth. With the sail at full height, the strength of the wind pushes the boat over a full 60 degrees, dragging us sideways through the water.
Officially a New Zealand protectorate, Palmerston receives many of the modern amenities that we take for granted. It is also one of the newest - and sturdiest - buildings on the island.
They don't really get in touch with the families. As we finally near Palmerston, a small boat, shining in the sun, roars towards us, swerving left and right through the reef, the little outboard motor screaming.
Fishing takes up most of the day for many Palmerstonians and as a visitor it is virtually impossible to walk anywhere without being offered four separate lunches. Ftiends on Palmerston longer. He uses a piece of wood from the tree they call the mahogany tree, a coconut and fishing line for strings. As we sit outside his squat house, his brother Simon runs over with a plate of food.
In a typhoon crashed into the island - and the waves, they say, swept the old church off its foundations.
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Sitting proud on the right-hand side of the road is the church. Over the years, tens if not hundreds of boats have hit the reef hiding just below the waves, leaving the sailors stranded.
Just two years ago it didn't come for 18 months. I ask one of the Islans what would happen if someone was to steal a coconut.
So the islanders tie their buildings to surrounding trees. It is absurdly beautiful. Far bigger than one would imagine.
The women relax on hammocks, laughing and joking. Nothing goes wrong in Palmerston," says Bob as we arrive at his tin-roofed home.
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She has also studied in New Zealand: "You have a lot more opportunities [there], a lot more stuff to do, more friends. We know each other too well to wait. No other ships, no wildlife, and no aircraft - not even at 50, feet. Fish in their hundreds swim below the boat and, as the clear water ripples, a shark glides past with stingrays in tow.
I didn't know it, but by the time we found out it was too late and we already had. They compete for the handful of yachts which pass every year, and the winners of this race cater for the needs of the visitors.
Part of the Cook Islands, Palmerston is one of a handful of islands connected by a coral reef which surrounds the calm waters of a central lagoon. If you have information which you believe might be of interest to the CIA in pursuit of the CIA's foreign intelligence mission, you may use our e-mail form. It is a social gathering, but it also highlights the lack of young adults.
The sea is the only access. Housing, power for a couple of hours a daythe internet for a couple of hours a dayeven - for a lucky few - a mobile phone al.
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Something as simple as going to the dentist somfthing a major expedition. The latest wreck, brought down just three years ago, sits on the beach with a gaping hole in its side. The bell rings to summon this Christian community for a service at and there's no work or play allowed until after A sudden clatter of heavy rain hits the side of the boat. With no land for thousands of miles, Palmerston takes the full force of any storm. During nine days at sea we see nothing.
Ever since I went to New Zealand I've wanted to go back. We will carefully protect all information you provide, including your identity. It is a strip of sand no more than metres long and is home to just half a dozen buildings.
As Bob says: "You are free to do what you want to do. It's not easy.
It tells of William Marsters' trip to Palmerston a century and a half ago, when he "sang farewell to happy London town". So standing on the back of his tiny, patched up aluminium rib, Un he out past the reef and into the towering waves in search of other fish, the pockets of his favourite camouflage trousers filled with line and hooks.
Then, in one of the most surreal moments of my life, surrounded by 3, rriends of open ocean, I hear one of the islanders listening to her favourite song.