It is amazing how fast your dependency on tech gadgetry wanes when lounging on a beach with pearly white sand beside gentle, idyllic blue waters.
This phenomenon takes some time to register – you just suddenly realise you have not checked your emails, text messages or voicemails for a few days.
And you discover you don’t care – after all there is snorkelling to be done!
You can hardly be blamed for having this reaction in a place like Raratonga – much of the technology that is so ubiquitous in our every day lives is just not dominant on the island.
Arriving at the international airport, you are not greeted by fancy gizmos ready to scan your passport’s barcode or microchip – or your retina as is now the custom at some border posts. Instead, a friendly immigration officer scans your face to make sure it matches your passport photo before inviting you to enter the country with an officious stamp.
At the beachfront cafés waiters do not swagger about with handheld PCs to beam your order of a bowl of fries back to the kitchen – a notepad does the trick.
Some establishments do have more sophisticated point-of-sale systems that send orders directly to the kitchen, but this does not necessarily guarantee faster service or eliminate comical mix-ups with orders.
At an upmarket resort where touchscreen point-of-sale units were the norm, it took four iterations before our bill finally resembled what was consumed.
It is not that Rarotongans provide bad service or are computer illiterate – in fact technology did not cause these mix-ups, but rather the carefree attitude of the people.
Of course, computers are used widely across the island – at government offices, in shops and businesses and in schools. One school in particular had a very well-appointed computer training room for students (the visit was more than just a holiday).
Economic factors undoubtedly also account for the slower uptake of technology. Like many Pacific nations, the Cook Islands is not a rich country, with few natural resources and New Zealand donors helped set up the computer classroom mentioned above.
Improved access to technology can obviously bring tremendous benefits to countries like the Cook Islands, but it would be a shame if, like in many developed countries, peoples’ carefree attitudes are lost as they rush headlong into the digital age.
No matter what any technology manufacturer promises, their creations are not going to make life completely simple and hassle free.
I certainly do not wish technology away. Some of my best friends are gadgets – I just did not miss them all that much during my week without them.