Tonga/in a nutshell

This is our second to last 'passage' before we reach half way. 360nms to Tonga, just in time for another week of fun and games at the Vava'u Regatta, organized primarily for yachts heading for New Zealand (ie most of us).
Vava'u is strikingly dirty, rubbish lines every road and pathway, such a contrast to Samoa. The town is dominated by expatriates running small businesses . There's a large produce and handicraft market run by locals and several whale watching outfits ,wedged between churches. .
The regatta was very well organized, and brilliantly orchestrated by 'Billy' the one man circus. In between the fancy dress pub crawl and the pie eating contests, we squeeze in 4 fabulous dives with Pacific Dolphin, and an' out of this world' swimming with whales encounter. We were lucky enough to swim with a mother and calf humpback whale and also heard the whale song,. . . .
And then it was time for the 'Utulu, My Tongan Home' Feast, a night of Kava, singing, dancing, feasting, fruit bats and rugby teams. . .
We escaped to a lovely anchorage , Port Murelle, just in time for the Full Moon Party, and then some serious snorkeling, Mariners Cave involved swimming through an underwater entrance to enjoy a fabulous pool inside the cave. Followed by Swallows cave, covered in white rump swallows nests.
Tongan feasts are a big attraction and so are Sunday church services, the singing has to be heard to be believed. most of the women, and the men, are adorned with beautifully woven mats when they attend services.
After Vavav'u we head south to Haano, in Haa'pai group of islands. This beautiful island has 4 villages, about 80 residents, and 7 ministers! We walked along grass avenues of mango trees, negotiating the odd corrugated fence, in place to keep the free range pigs in/out. On the way back to the dinghy we met Juliet, a wife of one of the ministers. As we admired her beautiful garden over the fence, she invited us to lunch the next day.
Armed with mayonnaise, batteries and books we return the next day for lunch . The table, in the centre of their humble home, was adorned with a magnificent roasted pig, surrounded by dishes of fish , taro, banana, coconut, mango, pawpaw , breadfruit and a host of other local ingredients. Juilet insisted on giving Heather and I all the left overs and a shell necklace each, which she had made.

Next day we have to check in at the main port of Pangai. As we walk down the main street, we feel as if we are in some western movie, after everyone has been run out of town. . . . . eventually someone appears on the corner of . . . . . MARINERS INTERNET CAFE, the only bar in town. . . But strangely enough, it seems that all roads, or rather passages , lead to. . . MARINERS INTERNET CAFE. . . as in their guest book we discover several familiar names, most incredible of all is the name DAVE FORD,( our daughters future father in law),. . . . help! we had better go back to the UK to meet him, and organize the wedding. . . .

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