Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Content in the Kingdom of Tonga

I kind of like the way that sounds...the Kingdom of Tonga. We have not yet seen the King tho' I do believe he still exists and resides in Nukolofa which is in the most southern group of islands..the Tongutupu group. We will stop there briefly just before the boys head out to Minerva Reef and onwards to New Zealand and I fly out of there also headed to NZ but taking the easy route!!! I am grateful to not be making this last passage as it is the one that usually contains weather patterns slightly less than optimal and many boats encounter storms along the way. We are fast enough that most likely can beat anything as there will be lots of planning and working with our friend in Camden, meteorologist Ken McKinley who provides weather routing.

We have been really enjoying the Vava'u group of islands. We have gone to lots of the different islands and found so much good snorkeling and diving. This really is a cruiser's paradise made very easy by all the amenities and ease of moving about. Some of our best memories will include the time we have spent with the local family who befriended us. We had a wonderful lunch and visit to their church our first Sunday her and then on the following Sunday we took all of them out for a day sail on our boat. Tupai had the most wonderful smile on his face as he was at the helm and sailing the boat and the kids were just beaming as the wind blew about them. We stopped at a small island and all went swimming and on the return trip they sung to us in the most wonderful harmonies imaginable. We captured some of it on our little video camera along with the sound that it can record. They were singing hymns but since it was all in Tongan it did not necessarily sound religious...just perfectly in tune and well practiced. What a talented family! On Thurs eve. Gram accompanied the oldest daughter Jasmine to her high school ball and had a very interesting time. He reports that they were all dressed to kill (some of the boys in tuxes and the girls in ball gowns) and that the dancing was most remarkable. All very proficient and somewhat practiced with line dancing and waltzing and the like. Between dances however the boys and girls would be on separate sides of the gym with not that much interaction taking place. He had a great time and will savor the night as one of the more memorable experiences of his trip.

We did go out on one of the whale watching boats and had an experience of a lifetime. They put us in the water in close proximity to the whales and we snorkeled and swam out to watch them underneath us. They are so amazing!!! Mostly got to view mother's and their calves hanging around under us. There were too many of us in the waters at the same time because we were on a boat with an Australian filming crew so the whales headed away fairly quickly. We had numerous beautiful views of them breaching and really enjoyed the whole experience of seeing them up so close. Plan to do another trip in the HaiPai group (our next set of islands) as we have heard the experience there is even better! Yesterday on our way between anchor spots we found a group of 3 whales playing very close to us and did a bit of chasing them around, Gram and I jumping off the boat and trying unsuccessfully to catch up to them. Again tho' some amazing views of their tail flukes just 200 yards away from the boat!

I am finally feelling better after having had a touch of some flu thing for the last 5 days. Very hard for someone who never gets sick to be feverish and achey in the tropics. I have not been in the best of moods but am glad to be feeling a bit better today. We are just about to go on a dive with our friend Louis on Simpatica. They have just caught up with us after a year. We last saw them in the San Blas last Sept. We are hoping that they will head out with us at the end of the week as we make our way to the Hai Pai group. Last week we were able to dive 4 days in a row which was really incredible. This one island (Tsungisika) offered the best coral we have seen yet and so w e dove there on two days. The fish are very plentiful and the clarity was quite good but the coral, especially the soft coral in every imaginable color was just to die for.

Can't think of a whole lot more to relate 'cept that I miss the family and friends that are in the US and who I wonder about in my daydreams. I am excited to get to New Zealand but also getting ready to be thinking about home and our return. It will be a bit of a shock to both body and mind to come back in the middle of winter but good to be able to settle in during that quiet time too.

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