Thursday, November 01, 2007

Vavau, Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 178 islands. In two months you don't get to see that many but we did our best.. After a two day trip from Niue, we made landfall in Neiafu, the largest city in the Vavau Group. A dusty little place, it is necessary to stop here to check into the country. After a few days on a mooring with clean laundry and fresh baked bread in hand we set out five miles to our first Vavau anchorage. The Vavau group as it is referred to is incredible in the fact that within fifteen miles there are over fifty anchorages. Some large, some small but all with fantastic beaches and wonderful snorkeling. The most common thing in Vavau because everything is so close, was to spend five or six days out and then head into town when you wanted more supplies. Some of the anchorages even had resorts to visit, or Tongan feasts to attend. Our first weekend in Tonga, Scholarship traveled nine whole miles and we attended a traditional feast on the beach. Over fifty people were there to sample the local food and culture. After being entertained with live music and dancing we sat down to family style meal. Served on banana leaves with no untensils it was different than what we were all used to. And then the lights went out. SInce we were on a beach, the lighting was provided courtesy of a generator. We literally sat down and took our first peek at the food and poof it was pitch dark. So now we are sitting in the dark and eating who knows what with our hands. Having a shellfish allergy this became comical as everyone around me became as "taster" so I could find something to eat that would not give me hives. I ended up eating a lot of fruit and I think when I got home I made a grilled cheese because I was still a bit hungry. The lights did come on near the end of the meal and most of my companions pronounced the food pretty good even if it still wasn't clear what we were eating even when the lights came on. A few nights later we found ourselves in a Spanish restaurant on a tiny island listening to the owner singing portuguese love songs while Maria cooked and their pet goat ran in and out of the restaurant. I haven't been in such and odd place since the Italian polo match in Mexico. That is the thing with traveling like we do. You never know what you might find.
Vavau was a very special place and we spent over two weeks there before heading south to the Haapai group. We explored caves by dinghy, went diving and snorkeled almost every day. The beaches were made for BBQs and provided for a great time with friends old and new. Tonga is a sort of a crossroads for cruisers. Many people start in the Marquessas in May and then take several routes through the pacific. Around October, most have arrived in Tonga and from there go our seperate ways again. Some to New Zealand, some to Fiji and others off to Australia or even further destinations. As the cyclone season offically starts at the end of November we are all thinking about getting to a safe destination and out of mother natures' way. Below are some underwater shots Mark took. My favorites are of Nemo. Tonga is crawling with clown fish all ducking in and out of their anemone. Also I have included some feast photos.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Mark and Liz: We hear from Cyndi that you are in New Zealand to stay for a couple of years. Since my retirement is impending (6/08), I am sure that we will be able to come for a visit while you are there. E-mail us your latest location so we can start looking at dates in 2008.

Love, hugs and kisses,

Becky and Chris