Wednesday 9/18/2013 9:00
21 08.275 S 175 10.981 W
Posting by Barb:
We arrived in the town Nuku’Alofa in Tongatapu early in the morning. This would be our last stop in Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We knew that we would have to hang out here until we had the weather window required to do the 10 day sail to New Zealand as per the grib weather files and Bob McDavitt’s weekly report. It turned out we only had to stay in Nuku’Alofa for a week. I found the town to be dirty and littered with garbage. The people were generally nice but not the same as in the more remote places. Locals of Tongatapu probably see more tourists and cruisers and their interest in us was more geared to the dollar they could earn versus genuine interest to welcome us and share their deeply respected customs and traditions. There was a great market with plenty of local fruit and vegetables but the grocery store was small and barely stocked. There were many restaurants and bars and the food was good and relatively inexpensive. We ate at a local restaurant the Bullfish a couple of times and enjoyed the local beer during Happy Hour and ate a very good meal of grilled fish. The hamburgers were not so great. We enjoyed the banter with the waitress that we had each time we ate there and we agreed to attend the service of her church, the Wesley church, much to her delight as she gave us the directions to get there. Dennis made the 2 mile trek to the church but Beth or Suly as she called herself never showed. We later understood that it was the ‘Tonga Way’ as kindly described by the locals. The ‘Tonga Way’ is you may show up you may not, you may be on time you may not, but either way people don’t sweat it and go with the flow. The service was all in Tongan and very formal, unlike the service in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where kids could get up and roam around. The singing was beautiful until a Tongan lady sat next to us just as the service was beginning and 10 minutes after the pre-service singing had started. It was all I could do to keep from laughing as we experienced her energetic, shrill, over the top loud singing. I had to pray hard to keep a straight face as I watched Dennis try to look around me to see who was doing the unabashed , joyful singing Dennis. We realized after that we had seated ourselves in the middle of the choir and maybe that is why all the kids in the front pews were looking at us so strangely and I thought it was simply because we looked different. I enjoyed the service and I could sense the Tongan’s strong spirituality and commitment to their beliefs.
We made one road trip on a local bus to the North end of the Island to see the flying foxes (bats with fox like faces) clinging to the causarina trees. Dennis of course took hundreds of pictures, one of which we will post in our photo album and blog.
While med tied to the Tongatapu harbor we met a very nice family that live in a Catamaran, Mares Fatola, which they sailed all the way from Switzerland. We had Mario, Esther and little Laura (8 years old and a delightful, happy child) over to share and evening meal. Laura spent an afternoon with me going through our collection of kids movies to sort through which ones she wanted to watch or borrow. She watched snippets of movies sitting cozily in the nav station. I so much enjoyed her total engrossment in the movies and every now and then she would look at me, during possible scary parts of the movie, with her big beautiful eyes to ask for reassurance that everything would be ok. It made me reflect on my moments with my kids when they were little.
We replenished our food supply, gasoline and diesel and on September the 25th we started our trek to New Zealand. I left a little sad about leaving the beautiful South Pacific, apprehensive about the 10 day sail to New Zealand that generally, historically offers at least one gusty storm on the way. Of course Dennis is not worried and if he is not worried then I will be ok.