Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Getting to Know People in Vava'u Tonga

It is a big day when the ship
comes in. Everyone comes to the
wharf to collect their orders.
The local market. Crafts are inside the building.
This island group is in the north and some distance from the capital. As a result, there is limited commerce. A supply ship comes in a couple times a month and the intra-island ferries do some transporting of goods.

It is a big event when the ship comes in. We saw people lined up to receive their orders, including washing machines, sofas, and other large household items. There were stacks of container crates waiting to be unpacked. Dennis and I just happened to be walking through the wharf area when we realized what was happening. It was like Christmas - such anticipation!

You can buy any kind of fish on
the wharf during the market.

There is a central market that is open daily with fresh produce and craft items. The fishermen have coolers full of fresh fish at the wharf each day. I wondered what they do with all of the seafood that isn’t sold at the end of the day.

Watermelons are very popular here much to my surprise and it was a nice treat. However, white potatoes were very expensive because they come from New Zealand. The local sweet potato is purple inside, but very tasty – just a little too starchy for me. Whatever they sold me for lettuce was tough and somewhat bitter. I think I needed to ask for “salad” to get what we call lettuce.

I encountered this one on the street one Sunday when
I was walking by myself. I wasn't too sure how she
would react to me as I passed her. It was fine!
Pigs seem to rule here! They are everywhere: in the streets, in the yards, wandering around vacant lots, etc. It seems most families have a pig or two. On some of the smaller islands, a pig roast for cruisers is a common thing. The cruisers bring the side dishes and the local family brings a pig. Some people were grossed out when the pig was killed in front of them and then put on the spit over the wood fire! I guess we don’t think about that part of the process when standing at the meat counter!
Pigs in the yard with the kids and laundry.
Unfortunately, we did not participate in one of these meals as we were dealing with a battery situation – again. The new expensive system that was put in before we left has been a great frustration and disappointment. Dennis has spent too much of this adventure dealing with it and we hope for find a solution in Fiji where they have more marine services. In the meantime, it affects our ability to desalinate sea water so we are hauling it to the boat in five gallon jugs.

Looking down the main street of town. We spent a lot of time
in the red roof building in Tropicana Café - best Internet!
The local businesses were most helpful. Our gathering place was at the Aquarium Café near our mooring. It was a short dinghy ride to the dock and then a mile walk to the other end of town. We made the walk several times a day. In fact, we do a lot of walking in these island. (The result is 4-5” lost around my waist! I needed this!)
Trying to keep the overheating battery cool!

Mike and Laurie who own the Aquarium and Lisa and Greg who own the Tropicana Café were the most helpful with information and providing Internet services and good food.

And, of course, the happy hours were the nightly deal at the Aquarium where the fleet gathered. Lisa and Greg managed to help all of us struggling with the Internet to get our paperwork for Fiji clearance completed and sent off to Fiji. This is no small task. These island governments want you to email them information, but forget they have lousy connection services so we spend hours trying to make it happen. 
I love this tree. Walked by it several times a day. They
built the sidewalk around it so they must love it, too.
Lisa said it is hard to get spices and things for the restaurant kitchen so I gave her a bunch of stuff I had on the boat that I realized I am not going to use or need. She was thrilled. I think there will be a lot of Mexican flavored items on the menu for the next few months! I also gave her a bottle of A-1 Steak Sauce since I haven’t see a good steak in the market for a long time!
The World ARC fleet "at rest" in the mooring field!

While in Neiafu, I did manage to finalize our plans for the holiday trip to visit our children and grandchildren. We will be leaving the boat in New Zealand for two months while we fly to Sydney, Istanbul (for a mini vacation), then to Munich for Christmas in Germany with Katie’s family. Next we go to Detroit for a special birthday girl’s party and to take care of the four F’s: family, friends, finances and “f(ph)ysicians.” After a couple weeks in Michigan, we will go to San Francisco to see the boys and a new grandson! Then we are  on a flight from LAX to Sydney and back to Auckland! WHEW! We are calling it our “double loop” as in a trip around the world within a trip around the world!

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