From Annies' log.
Well we finally made it to the Kingdom of Tonga
just in time for the Kings' funeral. Unfortunately the King who has reigned here
for 41 years died last week in New Zealand. He was 82 and had been ill for some
time. Now the whole country is in official mourning for a month - which is about
how long we will be here. Almost everyone is wearing black, some also wearing
traditional mourning "tapas", a mat woven from pandanus which is worn like a
sarong with a wide black belt at the waist. "Entertainment" is not allowed so
there goes the fun aspect of our visit.
We are currently anchored at a small island to the
very north of the Tongan group called Niuetoputapu (the lazy cruisers call it
New Potato, but if you practice it's not that hard to pronounce, just say every
letter). We arrived on sat but of course it automatically became Sunday as
we have crossed the Date Line. At least now we are on the same day as Australia-
yippee- still it was a bit strange just loosing a day.
We checked in officially on Monday which involved
having 3 officials visit the boat (customs, immigration and quarantine). Luckily
they weren't of the late Kings proportions or I doubt they would have all fitted
at one time. We completed the paperwork as they worked their way through a plate
of chocolate fudge brownies and a cuppa (it is customary to serve refreshments).
I was relieved to find that none of our foodstuffs would be confiscated. Mind
you we had already eaten our last 2 apples and 3 eggs at breakfast and all I
have left are some green tomatoes I bought in Bora Bora that refuse to ripen,
some sweet potatoes and 3 onions. The freezer is also getting low. Down to a leg
of lamb, some chicken thighs and half a Wahoo. Yes we finally caught
something.....after a dry spell since the Marquesas we landed a 3 a half foot Wahoo on our last day of sailing from Rose
Island. I had forgotten how truly delicious Wahoo is. And fresh out of the ocean
it is absolutely delectable. The last of our real potatoeswent to make chips for
the traditional fish and chip dinner to celebrate the catch, also some of
Darrens precious beer for the batter. He's had to ration it out and is hoping to
buy some mere here.
Back to the story. We were free to go ashore
once the officials moved on to the next boat (4 to check in that day). On shore
we found a small village with thatched hut, lots of pigs dogs and horses, and
small muddy children - people were sitting in the shade weaving pandanus
mats or out on the low tide flats digging up God knows what - so were the pigs.
The "capital" village of the island is 2 villages and 2 miles away along a dusty
dirt track. So off we walked, lots of children ran up to us to ask our names and
if we had any lollies (doesn't matter where you go....). We were quite taken
aback by the level of rusticicity here. There is no electricity, just the
occasional generator. A supply ship comes ....wait for it... every couple of
months! with canned abd dry goods and fuel. It's due next week so everyone is
out of fuel and cadging oit off the yachties. We found the "shop" in the
"capitol" and Darrens hopes of finding beer were dashed, as were mine
of findinganything fresh. Just cans of corned beef, cooking oil and a couple
other bits and pieces. I wanted to get flour to make bread but could only get
5kg. So I agreed only to see the woman dish it out of a box into a
shopping bag, no lesser amounts were allowed, so they said...mmmm. Anyway a bit
laterwe found the "bakery" a tin shed by the (never used) cricket pitch and
after quite some discussion I traded the bag of flour for a loaf of bread -
with the promise of more tomorrow. I was very happy as A) I didn't have to carry
5 kg (10lb) of flour for 2 miles and B) I didn't have to make bread for a
while. Of course darren still didn;t get any beer but we sorted that out 2 days
later. We went to the "resort" for lunch, a quaint little place on an island
just next to the capitol - you could walk to it at low tide - we had a cheese
pizza and some good ol' VB - Darren went to seventh heaven in a single bound. We
relieved them of 12 take -aways which Darren did not complain about having to
lug them all the way home and is now rationing them carefully - mind you it's
just turned noon the next day and he's cracked one allready.
Now we are waiting for theweather to change and let
us sail south to Vava'u. There's a Mooring base there so I'm quietly confident
that provisioning might be a little better.