20 Things You'll Only Understand If You've Lived In Niue
1. Plane Day is exciting AF
Not only is it one of the social highlights of the week - the airport is THE place to be if you're a social butterfly looking to spread her wings - but it also means a chance to get your hands on some fresh fruit and vegetables (!!!)
I’d never been so goddamned excited to spend $6.50 for four apples in my life as I was on Fridays.
2. If you don’t wave when you’re driving, you’re a douchebag
After living in Niue for two years, I discovered the three-tiered system to the drive-by salute:
Level 1: A single finger raised over the wheel out of courtesy to any passing motorist.
Level 2: Flashing a hand in the air/peace sign/half wave out the side of the window for someone you know well.
Level 3: Honk your horn, wave madly, flash your headlights, and hang out of the window yelling pleasantries to your spouse/bestie/favourite human as you pass by. Or better yet, just stop in the middle of the road for a good chat.
Note: Tourists are usually the exception to these rules because they have no fucking clue what’s going on. Most of them just stare at you like you’re a weirdo giving them the middle finger.
3. Paying $13 for a carton of eggs is a (painful) part of life
And we ain’t talking about the fancy, organic, free-range, hand-fed-with-the-tears-of-unicorns-type of eggs.
Turns out that plane tickets are expensive for everyone, including the unfertilised offspring of poultry.
4. Life is a constant battle against geckos
Most of your cleaning routine revolves around scraping their turds off EVERY GODDAMN SURFACE of your home. And then they just shit all over it again. It’s a battle that can never be won.
5. You can’t remember the last time you locked your car
In fact, you tend to leave your keys, purse, mobile phone, and even your first born child in there. Because NIUE.
Besides, it’s a lot easier for someone else to move your car for you if needed. Parked like a dickhead? That’s cool, we’ll just move it for you.
6. You want to go all Terminator on the asses of the local chickens
Oh f*ck. The CHICKENS.
In Niue, they literally rule the roost. And by roost, I mean the whole fucking island.
They start their incessant crowing at around 2 am, finish somewhere around 2 pm, and strut around like they own the damn place.
I swear, if there was a KFC on the island, those chickens wouldn’t be so damn pleased with themselves. Note to self: investigate BB guns and KFC franchises, ASAP.
7. Takai Week
Every January, in the first few weeks of the New Year, Takai fever sweeps across Niue.
A takai is when you drive around the island in a convoy, your car decorated to the tits, blasting music, throwing lollies and treats out the window to people as you pass by every village. You also drink. A lot. Like, a lot a lot.
There's nothing else like it in the world.
8. If you haven’t been the subject of gossip at some point, you’re probably not doing things right
In a country with such a small population and little external entertainment, gossip, speculation and Chinese whispers are pretty much the amusement de jour.
Wanna know what’s happening around the island? Don’t turn on the radio or read the monthly newspaper – just ask your neighbour over for a wine and you’ll be allll over that shit.
9. Driver sobriety tests are surprisingly easy to pass
Generally speaking, all you have to be able to do is this:
Step 1: Stick to the speed limit. Stop at the police check without running anyone over.
Step 2: Greet one of the police officers by name. Bonus points if you can name more than one, or add a personal touch by asking about their spouse/family.
Step 3: Modify the truth about your alcohol consumption - ‘I only had 6 beers’ -whilst discretely pushing the other 5 empty cans under the seat. Don't break eye contact.
Step 4: Assure your friendly neighbourhood police officer you’re heading straight home.
Step 5: Drive off waving and smiling.
10. Everyone knows your business, whether you want it to be known or not
It’s basically like living in a (very pretty) fishbowl.
Case in point: I once went to the supermarket to buy a pregnancy test.
The cashier’s eyes lit up in excitement and proceeded to have a good chat to me about how great it would be if I had a kid, whilst I hurriedly stuffed it in a bag and prayed to Buddha that no one else heard this exchange.
The next time I went shopping, the same cashier asked about my test result with barely-concealed excitement in her voice (spoiler alert: it was negative and I was mortified).
Yep, even pissing on a stick wasn't a private matter in that part of the world.
11. You have the driving skills of a World Rally Championship driver
Going for a drive means bumping along overgrown bush tracks; navigating dusty, broken, pothole-ridden roads; and dodging coconuts and crabs alike. God help you if you're a shit driver.
12. The Internet connection reminds you of the good ol’ days of dial-up
Three days to load an Instagram picture. WTAF. Good thing I never tried to download any porn...
13. Time is a very fluid concept
There are two times for everything: Palagi Time and Island Time. Palagi (white person) time is the actual time, whilst island time can be anywhere between an hour to three days later. You learn to roll with it.
14. Pay Week vs ‘Blind’ Week
With such a large portion of the island’s population working for the Government and being paid fortnightly, you can always tell when it’s pay week.
Events are planned around it; the supermarket is extra busy; and Thursday’s at Vaiolama is packed out because everyone feels like a total cashed-up baller, sipping on Happy Hour-priced beers, and being all fly AF.
But on ‘Blind’ Week? You can almost see the tumbleweeds floating down the street...
15. You learn to go without
Last year, the island ran out of flour. So we did the most logical thing: had the NZ army airdrop some during a fly-by exercise. As you do.
Another time we ran out of beer. Holy shit, it was a national tragedy.
16. The term ‘clubbing’ takes on a new meaning
Going out to shake your booty on a Saturday night means wearing cutoff shorts, Havaianas, a messy ponytail and little makeup - not a stiletto, Dior handbag or fake eyelash in sight!
Everyone gets down and dirty on the d-floor, resulting in a hot, sweaty, hilarious mess. Then the lights come on at 12 pm and everyone tumbles out to the car park to continue socialising. It’s pretty fucking rad.
17. You’ve forgotten what ‘traffic’ is
In Niue, four cars waiting at the petrol station is considered a traffic jam.
18. You buy massive, industrial-sized rolls of tinfoil
Because everything gets wrapped in tinfoil. ALWAYS #tinfoilislife
19. There’s no such thing as a diet
For reals. You should see the size of my ass these days...
20. You realise how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place
All jokes aside, for all its idiosyncrasies, Niue truly is a stunning place to call home.
From the pristine coral reefs to the big, warm, friendly smiles of the locals, Niue is the kinda place that captures your heart and doesn’t let go.
And no matter what you experience during your time here – the good, the bad, and everything in between – you are a better (and damn lucky) person for having called it your home.