July 02, 2006

Tongan Feasts

VAVA'U, KINGDOM OF TONGA - Our youngest, and perhaps most competent crew member, Richard, has just received some tragic news from home and will be leaving our boat for home as soon as possible. We'll definitely be missing Rich as I feel like the four of us worked well and got on great. Our foursome is now three. We may pick up another crew member, or simply continue with the three of us. Take care, Rich, we'll catch up with you in Oz.

We've been here a couple days now and I've had a chance to learn a little about this strange little island:

It's the first country in the world to usher in the new day due to the fact that the international date line bends around them. Geographically they are East of where the date line should be but for whatever reason they've chosen to act as though they're on the Australian side of the line.

The country is not a republic, but rather an actual kingdom just like England in the 1400's. Tomorrow is the Kings birthday and from what I can tell, it'll be a big celebration.

It's one of the few places in the world that was never colonized by a European power and for this reason they still have a very unique culture; The men wear skirts (though I'm sure they're called something different), the heavier a woman is the more beautiful she is considered.

Within two days of our arrival, we'd been invited to a 'Togan Feast' with a local family. We spent the evening sitting on the floor, eating piles and piles of food and drinking kava, a sort of alcoholic drink made from a root; it numbs your tongue and makes you feel 'euphoric'. They actually chew it to break it down before mixing it into a drink. A practice that I wouldn't usually go in for at home, but if everybody's doing it, who am I to say refuse.

There's also a lively ex-pat culture here, they spend most of they're time in a couple small bars down by the water, drinking and being merry. We've joined in for some fun times and are quickly making friends and becoming regulars. In just 3 days, I feel like I know most people in this village.

As soon as we get a weather window, we'll be heading West again. Now sure if a stop in Fiji is in the cards or not.

*I've got some photos of the feast and Tonga in General but the conection here is too slow to get them up.

June 30, 2006

Big Seas and Plenty of Rain

VAVA'U, KINGDOM OF TONGA - Until this morning, I didn't think I'd ever travel to a country that I hadn't heard of before. Until today...

Our plan was to sail straight from Bora Bora to Fiji on this new uber fast boat and it was working for the most part. We'd been eating away the miles for 9 days, putting French Polynesia, Rarotonga and even the tiny island nation of Niue behind us. When dealing with an Ocean like the Pacific plans are fickle at best; Over the last three days we've had little sleep, faced gale force winds, near constant driving rain and waves chasing us down at 5-6 metres. Yes metres. Words cannot describe (neither can photos).

Based on the fact that the forecasts aren't promising an improvement over the next few days, Neville, our skipper thought it best to peel out and pull into the safe harbour of Tonga (the nearest land). Besides, we'd run out of breakfast cereal.

So umm... here we are having just cleared immigration. It's time to find out about the Kingdom of Tonga. I never thought I'd get to a country I'd never heard of. It's all very exciting if you ask me.