Malo e lei lei from Vavau, Tonga
18 August 2010 | Vavau, Tonga
Vavau is the Pacific playground for Australians and New Zealanders. Other people come here too, we've met some Belgians, but given its close proximity and adventure travel offerings, Aussies and Kiwis dominate. Vavau is like our backcountry Hawaii to them. In Neiafu Harbor alone there are approximately 50 boats, more than we've seen at one time since leaving San Francisco. Right now the humpback whales are in town so every day the local whale watching guides and the dive shops (which have suspended diving so they can make good money off whale watching) take visitors outside the reef to get a closer look. The going rate is $TOP 300 per person, about $150 US. In a country where bread costs $1 US, a restaurant meal around $10 US, and our mooring buoy around $7 US - this is crazy money. This is also a Marlin fishing Mecca. Lots of boats with multiple reels. Some of the local handicrafts are carved from the Marlin's spear. Unfortunately we didn't do any fishing on our day and a half trip from Niuatoputapu. We never go after Marlin, but we also gave up on the smaller stuff because Eric had his hands full with the basics. As we were leaving Niuatoputapiu's harbor, we had 25 kts winds with very steep seas in the shallow waters between the small islands. Given the wind direction and severe chop, we had to change our course enroute to fall off and run with the seas instead of pound into them. I was at the helm when a wave took us and just flopped us over on another angle - I allowed the most dangerous thing to happen - an accidental jibe. Our boom is high enough to clear our heads, but our main sheet slackens and when it did it grabbed me and threw me off the helmsman's seat (which I had already dubbed "the launch pad") and slammed me against the cockpit wall. I saw it coming but had little time to mitigate the consequences. I am so fortunate that I am only suffering from some painful, deep muscle issues instead of a broken back. (Mona, if you are reading this your core strength training saved me!!) We thought about turning back in instead of heading for Vavau, but then realized if I were injured worse than I thought, it would be better to be on our way to a more populated place with air service than to be at Niuatoputapu with very few options. I am now into day four of the injury and feel like I am getting better vs worse, so things are looking up. Thank goodness for ibuprofen. We have a med kit stocked with some serious painkillers for extreme emergencies--- all the names you see at the pharmacy with a sign that says they are under lock and key-- I continue to resist the temptation. While here in Neiafu we finally have a little internet time again, albeit at a snails pace. We enjoy reading the blog comments and thank everyone for continuing to support us on our journey. In response to the question about whether we are keeping our sense of humor, here is a funny moment thanks to Finn: At breakfast the other day, Finn was telling us about Senator Palpatine and Darth Sidious, how they are actually the same person in the Star Wars saga. Darth Sidious is clearly evil, and Senator Palpatine is his alter ego, disguised as a well meaning member of a federation. Only after he's been granted Emperor status does he reveal his true identity and evil intentions. I asked Finn if he knew what we called people who make you think they are on your side when they are really on another side. I expected to hear "traitor" or "spy." Finn thought a moment and in all seriousness replied, "Hmmm......a politician?" Eric and I laughed so hard we had to assure Finn that he had said nothing wrong; he was so startled by our outburst. Today we are off to a quieter anchorage for a few days. We'll likely stay in the Vavua Group until the end of August.