Thursday, October 23, 2014

Niue Waltz Contest

I can't believe that I forgot about this. So shortly after we arrived I noticed that there was going to be a dance!  So off I went to get tickets. It was at the golf and country club (don't get any fancy ideas, it was just an older low slung building).
Well anyway there was a contest (with prizes) for the best Waltz. During the evening Shannon and I practiced our moves (at least the ones I could remember).  Then came the moment. The dance floor was loaded, and I typically like a little room to move, but anyway it turned out great, and we came in second out of the group.

Now Niue is a pretty small island, and for a couple of days after the dance people who I did not know would comment on our dancing skills. Then of course there is the follow-up, "so you are the ones on the catamaran with all the children!"

This is the first place that I am ready to stay for a while at.  It is so nice!!!   If we could haul the boat here for hurricane season, we would.

Until next time,


Exploring more Niue

We spent this morning catching up on school stuff then taking warm showers on shore. Rain is coming in a day or two, so we decided to do our second rental car day again today. So this afternoon we headed out. First to Avaiki Cave, our favorite! Where at low tide you can swim in a pool under the cave, and jump from the sides into the pool. To top it off, we picked up ice cream for snack to eat when we got there. It was great!!

Then we headed to Limu Pools. A beautiful, giant tide pool that you can swim in. There are areas with cold fresh water mixing in with warmer sea water causing temperature inversions that you can see in the water as you are snorkeling. Lots of reefs and fish and even a gorgeous blue star fish! Then we went to the second pool where Cassidy and Wolfie were jumping from cliffs. I swam through an arch and on my return trip a sea snake was coming almost right up at me. We've heard they are venomous, but rarely or never bite. I reached out and pet him. I felt a bit bad, they have to come up about every 2 hours for air. When I pet him, he went diving straight down again. Guess air wasn't that critical to him. 

Then we headed to Palaha Cave, which was excellent. We hit it as the sun was going down. It's a great cave facing out at the ocean. We were facing west and the sunset and nice light was coming in through the cave. We did some great exploring and took lots of pictures. This cave has tons of staligmites and stalactites in it which we could see huge ones and little new ones forming. The boys of course loved climbing everything also. 

We came home for a quick dinner since we were an hour and a half after our normal dinner time. Then bananas with hershey syrup for dessert since we have a huge stalk of bananas that have all ripened at the same time (and are perfect right now!) The end of a great day, but have to get some rest because tomorrow's another day and we have the car until 1:30 tomorrow afternoon, so have to do all we can in the morning for exploring. 

This has been one of our more favorite islands for exploring and we're loving getting out and doing it!! 

Probably heading to Tonga sometime this weekend, depending on weather.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hiking beautiful Moupiti, Society Islands

Niue Independence Celebration

This evening, we were lucky enough to get to attend a multicultural presentation at the high school. This again was part of the 40 years of independence celebration. There was music and dances performed by many, many groups. It was amazing!! First the Niueans performed, then groups from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, the Phillipenes, ex-Niueans who now live in New Zealand, and Tulukava. Fiji didn’t make it for some reason, so they were skipped. The introductions were in Niuean, so I missed most of the “background” information. There was such diversity of traditional costumes, dance styles, and music. Most of these groups live here in Niue, but continue to practice their traditional dances and music in groups, which was nice to see.

The hall was packed with people! It was very interesting to be at the performance. While the dancers were dancing, it appears to be a cultural norm here for people to show their appreciation by putting money either pinned to their hair or tucking it into their clothing. I’ve seen it twice before at dance presentations here on Niue. I’m sure it’s in support and appreciation of their beautiful dancing and hard work, etc. I think it’s a cultural bias, another American cruiser and I were talking about it. We were both put off by it, but in our minds, this is how you treat strippers. I think also, to a larger extent, I found it very disruptive of the dancing. Many people went up there, walked on stage between the dancers, in front of them, etc. Then people, not teens, but older, more conservative looking generation type folks, would go up on stage and start dancing doing their own thing. The crowd laughed and applauded and they were all having a great time, so it’s great, it’s normal, and I need to adjust. I found it distracting from the pre-practiced dances.

This community does not have crime, graffiti, theft or other issues. There is tremendous respect and love for other people that we’ve experienced. You can leave your car open with things in it, the keys in your motorcycle, etc. This behavior at the dance is certainly not out of any form of lack of respect. It was very interesting to see and we have to put our social norms to the side and appreciate that they were all having a great time, a bonding experience, while sharing and appreciating the cultures of those that have migrated here from surrounding island communities.

These are the subtleties that you miss when you don't get to spend enough time in any given place. I love watching the social dynamics and the more background information you get, the better you can read it. Got to hit the sack, been a long day with the navy ship and the dancing show!!!

It's down to a frigid 73 degrees here, we're all bundled up in blankets since we're just not used to it being this cool!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All About Niue

Niue is maybe one of the nicest places we have been to. 'Course every place seems to be the best!

Crime has been outlawed here, so people don't have locks on their front doors, and keys are just left in the cars and on the motorcycles. Quite a difference from French Polynesia, where two of our friends boats were robbed, nothing violent, just took electronics and money when the people were not looking! Masks and tubes left on the pier are waiting for the owners in the morning. There are no bars on windows or doors, and the bank just has plate glass windows. 

Now to say that you don't get robbed here may be slightly misleading, as gas is $10/gallon, apples are $8/Kilo, carrots are $7.50/kilo, but great ice cream is only $10 for 2 liters!!

We have had many wonderful motorcycle rides around the island; the cops finally caught us, and asked what the other islands required for us to use our motorcycle. They just have never had someone bring a motorcycle to the island before.

We just finished a nice dive with the local sea snakes. They are quite poisonous, but the rumor is that their mouths are so small that they can't bite you. Integrity actually grabbed one out of the water yesterday and all the children had a great time playing with it on the swim steps.

Life is really great!!


Naval Ship Tour

So apparently the 30 year old guy in the white naval uniform with 3 stripes that I sauntered up to and asked for a tour of the boat was the captain! I know how to pick them, eh?? 

We had a GREAT tour of the naval boat, very interesting for the kids (heck, it was very interesting for me!!). Three families from cruising boats went. We took pictures and asked tons of questions. They were so friendly and hospitable and open with us, it was nice. They didn't seem put out by us spending hours of their morning the day of their departure. The captain gave us most of the tour himself. 

After the tour, I went home and made cookies for them. They leave at 13:00 hours and it was 11:00 when we got home. I started as fast as I could, they had 66 people onboard (and we have 9 hungry bodies here), so I made a triple batch. I just finally had 75 cookies ready to go at 12:45. We wrapped them in plates and plastic and loaded into the dinghy. They ship had their ramps up, dinghy's loaded, and were pulling up the chain. A man in the pilot house pointed to the back of the boat, so we went back where some officers met us. It was still too high for me to hand up. They tried to reach down with no success. Finally deciding to lower a bucket. They were NOT about to leave without the cookies. They sent down the bucket and we loaded them up. Hopefully they each get one and have a nice trip. After 10 weeks out, they are heading home to Aukland. They will be at sea for another week or so doing tasks en route. 

Now I need to get to shore, for some reason I'm out of eggs, butter and sugar.


Auto Touring the Island of Niue

Awesome day in a rental car wearing ourselves out, first snorkeling and climbing around in a cave, then down to a small white sand beach cove, then to a chasm for a swim, then to another chasm for a longer hike through a native forest, watched crashing waves on a cliff shore, then down into a cave for a front row view of the crashing waves, saw a coconut crab climbing a sheer rock wall, then to another chasm with fresh water where old natives used to go to get fresh water down in a cave, then ended back in town just in time for the "community meal" to celebrate their 40 year of independence where we had free drinks, free dinner, and local entertainment with kids doing a dance show in native attire, New Zealand Navy doing a chant of some kind, then local adults singing, dancing, and playing guitar like instruments. The lift for the dinghy's broke, so we shuttled all the cruisers home after the party since their dinghy's are up on the hard. 

I met a commander on the Naval ship and talked ourselves into a tour of the NZ navy ship tomorrow morning at 8 am!!! YEAH!! So many great things going on in Niue this week!! Perfect timing!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pacific Ocean Volleyball -

Picking Mangos in Aitutaki

Balancing on the motorcycle to pick mangos in Aitutaki

Economy of Niue

"The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. Industry consists primarily of small factories to process passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue."

Again, very interesting article as I am here trying to figure out how the numbers work. How they can pay the food prices here, gasoline at $10/gallon, I've heard there's as many as 2 cars per person on this island, and I don't see much here in terms of economy. A little tourism, no substantial exports, no ATM and the bank can't even exchange money, etc. But then I read the above . . . "Selling postage stamps to foreign collectors." Ahhh, now it all makes sense!!!!!

Not to mention that of their $10 million budget each year, they receive $8.3 million in foreign aid. . . That and postage stamps just may do it . . .

Reading about Palmerston Island

What a fun read after visiting Palmerston!! Very accurate information from what I learned from the locals there. 

"The Island's Council consists of six members, the three heads of each family and three other members appointed by each family.[5] The Mayor is Bob Marsters.[5]" 

We had ice cream with Bob Marsters - what a fun loving and generous man! He was looking to replace a remote from a 10 year old TV. Too bad our universal remotes don't cover brands that old or we'd have given him ours and picked up another one.

Island Exploring - Niue

After "The Show" this afternoon we sent the kids back to the boat for "quiet time" naps and school and things and Courage and I headed out on the motorcycle. This is a gorgeous and awesome cliff/rock island!! We hiked to two caves, the first one you walk through coming out on the ocean where you can walk on the rock (not coral) reef and tide pools then drop into a large pool where you can snorkel into part of the cave. Then we went to a second cave that has massive stalactites and stalagmites, beautiful colorful mineral deposits, fossils of coral in the rocks and is open to the ocean on the far side (but not a swimming pool). Then we went to the Limu Pools where it's semi-shallow and calm, crystal clear water from all the limestone around. This is what they make resort pools to mimic with rocks all around, clear blue water, gentle waves, beach entry, etc. Then we went to the chasm, a large crack between two rocks that's filled with water. It's like a pool with huge rock walls on either side. From shore, you couldn't see to the ocean, but I think if you swim to the end of the pool, eventually you see it. We skipped walking to the arches, feeling like we ought to be getting home. We stopped at a gas station mini-mart type thing and she was selling watermelons from her home garden, small to medium size, but only $3 - $5!!! So we got a few and headed home!! What a wonderful tour!

The teens brought the kids to shore to play when they picked us up at the wharf, the teens went out exploring, the kids swam by the wharf for about an hour and played bubbles when on land, and Courage went home to "put on dinner" (aka quiet time). 

We had a quick preview, definitely going back. They were out of rental cars on the island, probably due to NZ Army and Navy being here for the 40 years of Independence celebration. We think they are all leaving Monday, so hope to rent a car for a day or two and take the whole family spelunking and snorkeling early next week. They will LOVE it! Looks like geology will be on the homeschool agenda this week.

Independence Day Show

This morning we went to "The Show" at the high school. It's very easy to hitch a ride with a local around here, which was great for moving the whole family across town. 

The Show is put on monthly, but was special today in celebration of their 40 years of independence. There is New Zealand Army and Navy here in support of their "freedom" also. They had speeches and presentations, etc. There were booths with local foods, local arts and crafts, and a huge display of fresh fruit!!! I was able to get a whole stalk of bananas for $25. I have paid $3. for these in the past, but for the prices here, I was tickled!! But they were being judged, so you couldn't remove it from the stand until after the judges had passed through. They also had coconut crabs and pigs for sale. Everything was nicely displayed in woven palm leaf baskets, very nicely done! Then there was a presentation by the local children doing traditional dances in native attire which was very cute. One dancer was the boys' friend from the wharf raft race the day before, so they enjoyed that. We had to leave, but apparently we missed a javeline throw and a climbing event. They had 2 wooden poles greased up, one for girls and one for boys. Each one had an envelope with $100 in it on top for the first one to make it to the top. That would have been fun to see too. 

We easily caught a ride back home. Courage took the stalk of bananas home on the motorcycle, I hitched a ride with the kids. As we carried the bananas out to the parking lot, a gecko climbed out of it. There were ants and earwigs on it too (which we DO NOT want on the boat). So we decided to keep the gecko too. He climbed onto my shoulder and we left him there. As I sat down in the van, he jumped off my shoulder and ran across the seat. Not wanting to alarm the elder couple that picked us up, I said nothing. Not wanting utter chaos in the car, I did not alert the children. So I casually looked around to see where he'd gone while continuing my conversation with the hosts. Then Integrity in the back seat said "Mom, there's the gecko." Intrepid and Innocence jump out of their seats and flip over to see the back row. I sit them right back down and tell Integrity to quietly and subtly get the lizard. Fortunately, the couple seemed oblivious to our excitement and we left the vehicle with as many living beings as we entered it with (we think).

Traditional Raft Racing

Yesterday morning we just went to shore to look for the razor I dropped while returning from my hot shower and to our surprise, there was a big gathering on the wharf. They were having a raft race with traditional rafts made of wood tied together with vines and some were "floated" by coconuts. Some nice work and designs, but most of them floated until you loaded 4 adults onto them, then many were about a foot under water. Was a fun and funny race to watch!!! The second heat was a "nontraditional rafts" race where the New Zealand women's team had plastic jugs floating them tied together with the wood and twine. They floated nicely even when loaded!! Then they served drinks and snacks. The kids thought it was great and it made for a full and fun morning.

Date Night on Niue

Date night yesterday in Niue was awesome!! Started with drinks watching a "circus act" by 6 hippies on the boat moored next door to us. Somehow they booked themselves at a nice hotel on the coast in exchange for a nice dinner and free drinks. 

Then off to "The Ball" at the Golf Club. It was fun, live music, well attended, hors d'oevours (?), open bar, all for $20 per couple!! Full house. Courage and I won second place in the Waltz competition!! We won our $20 back!!! The first place went to an experienced couple with a flawless dance style for $100!! Wow for them!!! 

Made for a fun night!!

Teens doing Cannonballs off Boat