Monday, July 27, 2015

So Many Choices, So Little Time in Tonga

We visited a number of islands in the Ha'api Group in Tonga
There are so many lovely anchorages and beaches to enjoy. Many are on uninhabited Tonga islands. Our next anchorage was just off a sand bar that connects two small islets south of Uoleva. It is a beautiful beach that encircles both islands. The reef on the eastern shore gives it protection.

The islet names are Uanukuhahaki and Uonukuhihifo.  I really don't know how the native people know how to distinguish some islands from others as they have similar sounding difficult names. I am sure I would end up in the wrong place!

This volcano is active. You can see smoke on some days.
We did share one Sundowner Beach fire with the local herd of cattle. They are the only ones living on Uanukuhahaki. The cows were quite vocal about our trespassing. Fortunately, the bull did not appear. He has been known to chase yachties into the water. 

A day sail to the west took us into a protected anchorage between Ha'afeva West and Ha'afeva East. Ha'afeva is a large island with much to explore. We had several good night of sleep here. Our trip ashore led to a trek across the island to the village where we met the local people. We visited the nursery school and their general store. The kindergarten children sang for us. They were shy at first, after a little while they started interacting.

A view inside the only store on the island.

As for the store, there wasn't much to buy. No bread or fresh fruit, just canned goods and eggs. We did note that the trash can in front of the store was filled with empty beer cans. Actually, the door was locked, so I put my camera through s little opening in the screen covering the window to get this photo.

We also learned that there were six or more churches for a village of two hundred! The Catholic Church only has one family attending. The missionaries certainly made their mark here. 

Kids are kids - everywhere!
This is the only road on the island. We only saw a
couple of trucks and a bike. Everyone walks everywhere.

The nicest house and yard seems to be the Pastor's.

This fiber was drying in several grassy areas.
When other sailors returned to their boat after a village visit the next day, they told us we could get some fresh things from Peter on shore. So Dennis set off hunting and gathering.

He returned with a whole stalk of bananas, papaya, breadfruit and oranges. We gave others some bananas, but we are going to eat them quickly before arriving in Fiji, where they will confiscate fresh fruits and vegetables and certain meats.

The pigs roam freely everywhere.
This is the windward side of the island. We are anchored
on the opposite shore for protection from the swells.

Skippperette searching for shells.
The Tongans are known for their hearty and heart-felt singing so we were heading over to Uiha (pronounced wee a) for a Sunday service. On shore, we saw the raised burial grounds in several areas. When you live at sea level, burial is usually above ground.

When inquiring about time of service, we got several different answers. We later learn why. There are four churches for the village of about 200 people. The churches had no signs telling the name of the church or time of services. We were looking for the Methodist Church, but ended up in the Free Church of Tonga! But we didn't know that until after the service. When you can't understand the language, it doesn't matter which church it is!

So we picked one that we thought was 9 AM but it wasn't! So we waited and waited. We should have walked further to another one. Since we had spoken with some of the clergy, it didn't seem like we should abandon this one. 

The service finally got under way.  Of course, we couldn't understand a word of it, but they were very welcoming. There we five women, seven men (including two clergy) and eleven children - and very well dressed and behaved. The rest of the congregation was in Vava'u for a conference.

Although they were small in numbers, their voices raised the roof! After the service, the women asked us what they could give us! Of course the answer was nothing. We felt like we should give to them so we gave a donation to the church.

The little children came to the church an hour early and sat relatively quietly until the adults arrived. They usually have Sunday School before the service. However, this Sunday, their teacher was acting as the Pastor so there was no Sunday School. They were all dressed in their Sunday finest and were very well behaved.

Following the service, we walked through part of the village with the women and children as they made their ways home. We were able to ask them about the island and share a little information about sailing around the world. In general, this community appeared to be more developed than many we have seen.

A typical yard and home here.
It looked like this island had been decimated by a cyclone and/ or tsunami. The buildings near the ocean had been flattened and were being rebuilt. I am not sure the new structures can withstand a hit, but they are raised and nice and clean. They even have indoor plumbing which the old ones do not.

One could not miss the massive burial mounds throughout the village. It was a lovely village to visit. We didn't stay long as we need to return to Custom and Immigration to clear out of Tonga. You must have official clearance paperwork or you cannot clear into another country.

Sundowners on Trillium before we leave the Pacific
Circuit Rally fleet to head to Fiji on our own.

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