We spent the last several days exploring more of the islands of Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga. It was a rainy couple of days on Friday and Saturday. But, we still managed to do some hikes on beautiful islands with tropical forests with white sand beaches lined by cocount trees. Mark and Dana on s/v Northfork were with us, so we went back to anchorage 16 and on Saturday we actually took the dinghy around and did a scuba dive on the coral gardens. The coral there is just so fantastic I didn’t mind going there again at all!
On Saturday evening we sailed back up to the anchorage, where we had gone the previous weekend, next to the island of Male which has an Internet WIFI. The Internet was not behaving well on Sunday, and Mark had a job to do, so Northfork went back to town after we had a nice lunch of pizza on their boat. Dana made some good homemade pizza!
Karen and I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of Sunday with mostly sunny skies by sitting on the boat and reading or playing games. Late in the afternoon, a nice local Tongan man came by on an old wind-surfing board and paddling with an old peice of wood. He didn’t speak fluent english, but we managed a nice talk. He made a few comments about how nice Tahina looked and asked where we were from. After telling him a bit about us, I started asking about him – his name is William. It turns out William lives in the village north of here – and must be the village leader. He has 9 kids (6 girls, 3 boys) and his father owns the island of Male. Apparently the resort owners have a 20 year lease on the island. He owns a farm on the top of the hill nearby and they grow all their own food. He said he grows pineapple, taro, potatoes, bananas, papaya, tomatos, watermelon, and more that I can’t remember. He also said he doesn’t sell them to the market (his family is so big, I’m sure they consume it themselves). He also is a fisherman, and does occassionally sell fish and lobster at the market. Before he left I offered a glass of water. He asked if I had some old rope. He said he also has 8 cows and he needed the rope to help with managing them.
It was a pleasant time talking to William, as the sun was setting, and getting a taste of what the local life here is like. He has never left Tonga before, but is obviously super happy where he is, and is quite wealthy in local terms. He described how the village used to be visited only by boat, until the 1980s when the government built a bridge so they could be reached by car. Apparently that meant a big change as they then got electricity and other modern conveniences.
At sunset, someone got on the radio and suggested people should look out and see the thin-crescent moon, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in the darkening sky. Naturally, I had already looked, but soon people came back on the radio and started asking all kinds of questions about the stars. Someone suggested to folks they should download some free planetarium software. It doesn’t surprise me that sailors are interested in the stars. Every time I pull out my Android Nexus One phone and show off Google Sky Maps, people love it. It lets you point the phone and learn what star or planet is in that part of the sky (the phone knows what way it is pointing thanks to the sensors including a digital compass, GPS, and digital gyroscopes).