Guestblog by Anders Lindgren: From everyday life in Stockholm, Sweden to everyday life in Paradise.
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Tue 29 Oct 2013 06:42
After 13 timezones passed during 45 hours of travelling with five different flights we finally landed on the small island Vava'u in the norhern achipelago of the kingdom of Tonga, the oldest and only remaining monarchy left in Polynesia, the south pacific. Salsa was proudly waiting, slowly rocking in the clear turqoise water in the bay outside Neifu, the regional capital of Vava'u. We were perfectly welcomed by Staffan, Ellinor, Erika and Andreas. My daughter Alexandra fell into the arms of Erika, her best friend from home, and now they met for the first time in 15 months. We fought of the jetlag and set sail almost immediately, heading for a lovely bay next to a white coral beach with palm trees just a short sail away. It is truly an archipelago up here, with many island but still only a short distance to open waters and the great pacific always in sight. The surrounding reefs far out, next to the horizon effectively breaks down the big ocean swell to calmer wind waves.
Just as I am writing we are on the end of the ninth day here on Salsa and Ellinor just served me a freshly picked passion fruit from yesterdays visit in the regional capital Pangai on the island Lifuka in the middlest Tongan archipelago called Haipai where we have been for three days after the first six days cruising around Vava'u. Tonga is great, both better and worse than expected, allthough hard to expect anything but the PR photos for a european guy like me with no previous experience of the tropics. Worse in the way that lifestyle seems to be rapidly heading towards consumption and commercial activities in line with what I am already used to from europe, leaving litter and garbage behind here and there and plastic trails everywhere. If you can let the trash here and there not darken your experience, as I think I have tried to do, this is in fact paradise with all the mandatory ingredients. My daugher pointed out a "Nemo" fish during todays snorkling. That will do for me as paradise. But other than that Tonga really have come out better than ever expected. The weather is perfect, at least as long we've been here. Always warm, never too warm. Always sun, never only sun but nice clouds every now and then with welcome shadows giving rest to our gentle scandinavien skin. The amount of blue and turqoise couleurs in the waters are fantastic, paradise. The locals seems very kind and smilingly saying hello to us when meeting on the street, and it is not at all exploited with heeps of tourists, such as ourselves:-) Maybe it is the fact that Tonga doesn't seem to be exploited that make me forgive the litter everywhere, the locals live their life the way they want and make the priorities they want, sleeping in stead of cleaning up seem to be one of them. The first day on Tonga I asked the taxi driver and proud owner of an old piece of junk Toyota if she liked the life in Tonga. She said she liked it, it was free.
On bord Salsa it is a fine everyday life, but still everyday life, which is clear for us coming on holiday, free from work and school. Everyday life means regular meals with a well thought through meny and nutricient ingredients. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in time after an hour of cooking and afterwards a half hour of cleaning the dishes. No late nights out, lights out after sun set, actually as the Tongans do it, and up after sunrise by seven in the morning, the Tongans start work at 5-7. Candy only on saturdays for the children and the exception to everyday routines beeing only that, beeing a guest on holiday, I am entitled to a cold beer whenever I like. The beer is cooled in the fridge, the fridge uses power and is reliant of mechanical perfection to keep cool, not at all taken for granted as a matter of fact. With lots of sun and wind the sun- and wind generator delivers enough power to keep the fridge running 24/7 but under a cloudy sky in leeward of an island the case might be another. For instance the rules onboard is not to cool drinking water, it takes too much power and really pushes the cooling compressor to the limit and it simply costs more than it pays off. Yesterday Staffan needed to kneel down and put his head under the floorboard to find out why the cooling water for the cooling compressor didn't work.Electricity and cooling, a small thing at home, is a big thing on board. Everyday life is in many ways harder on board. Every grocery bought need cleaning in salt water and stripping from all packaging berfore getting on board in order to get rid of any unexpected guests like cookrouches, alive or eggs. The salt from the ocean needs regularly to be rinsed of with fresh water to save even the stainless steel equipment. Days pass quite quickly this way, with routines and necessary chores, but of cours there seem to be time for snorkling and other adventure ashore, it sure have for us. As guests in paradis we have had the best of time so far, having said that, a 24 hour passing on open waters to Tungatapu in two days time might change things:-) I hereby officially thank our hosts for great hospitality and a memory for life.
Anders Lindgren with daughter Alexandra.