Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tonga Update -

Hello from Taunga (we think).  It appears to be anchorage #21 on the maps.  We have our own beach here, long and sandy with a large sand spit that stands out at low tide.  Water washes over it from a few directions at high tide, which is also fun.  At low tide we can walk a long way around the island in either direction before coming across any man made structures.  There's some nice rocks along the way that make for great tide pools.  I found a wounded and dying fish on the shore yesterday, Valiant thought it was the best thing ever.  He got to check out a real fish (his continuous topic of conversation) and hold it.  He would hold it and put it in the water, then catch it and bring it back out.  He was fascinated for hours and would not part from it.  We finally brought it back out to the boat in the dinghy and put him on the back swim-step with a bucket of water and his fish.  Intrepid found a gorgeous cowdry shell in one of the tide pools.  It was gold and browns and shimmering, probably about the size of a baseball.  But it had the snail in it; so we admired it, took pictures and let it go.

Yesterday Integrity was running down the stairs and fell and cut some skin from the bottom of his big toe.  It bled well and he got attention and bandages.  Valiant was quite impressed.  He talked all about "big toe" and "hurt."  Then shortly thereafter, he realized he too had hurt his big toe, and took it on rounds through the room looking for empathy.  I gave him a paper towel to hold on it, which he did, and then we bandaged it up.  He even hobbled like Integrity was.  Tonight we washed Integrity's foot off and put on new bandages.  Valiant too then needed his toes all bandaged up, so he has electrical tape on both of his big toes tonight as he goes to bed.  It's so funny his empathy pains for Integrity (and/or his attention seeking behavior).  He does seem to truly feel bad for Integrity though.

Last Saturday when we took 3 other teens out for the day, one of the girl's names was Joelle.  Vitality asked me when we were going to make Jell-O again (not an uncommon question for her to ask).  Integrity asked me at almost the same time what the girl's name was.  I told him, "Joelle."  Vitality says, "No, jell-o."  From that point on both Integrity and Vitality, with the rest of us following closely behind, proceeded to call Joelle, Jell-o.  And so the name stuck.  She seemed OK with it fortunately, because I don't think I could have changed what the kids had named her.

From 40 pineapples, we are down to 6.  We easily eat 6 a day, so it's getting time to consider going back to resupply.  Fortunately, it's only an hour or two away.  But on Sundays, the whole town is shut down.  I think I heard that there's an ordinance, but Courage believes that the people just adhere to the church's teachings of a day of rest.  Either way, it's a quiet day to reflect.  It is offensive to do any form of work on a Sunday.  Also it is offensive to be swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA, or other recreation.  We had a long day in town last Sunday, looking for things to do inside the boat all day.  This weekend, we'll be at a remote beach where our usual physical activities don't bother anyone else.  From what we've read, this is what most boats do.  We've heard that anything children do will be excused because they love children, which is great, but I think we're better off just doing what we do in our own space and everyone's happy.  So we'll go back in tomorrow evening, or Monday morning.  

On Sunday evenings a fair amount of little boats converge on the town of Neiafu for school from the outlying islands.  They go home for the weekend, then return Sunday night or early Monday morning.  So we'll be in synch with the migration.

Goodnight,
Shannon

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Anchoring

Tonga has very deep water right up to most of the shoreline. This insures clear water for diving, but makes anchoring challenging when trying to find anchorages at some of the islands. The best way to anchor would be to drop an anchor and then back to the shore and tie off to a tree. 

I don't like being that close to jagged rocks, so we are sticking more to the islands with shallows.

Well it is time to anchor again!

Courage

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nuku Island -

We have another perfect island. But this one has the added advantage that there is no shallow coral near the beach. And the beach has a nice drop off. Therefore every morning we motor over to the beach, kiss the shore with our bows, drop the anchor, and have the boat right at the beach! There is a nice breeze that holds us off the beach, and cools the boat.

Underwater there are these eels that live in holes and let their bodies wave in the current. Shannon thinks they are garden eels. And there are not just a few, there are hundreds. It is like sea grass made of eels.

Of course this is our new favorite beach!  It appears that we choose the perfect place to spend cyclone season!!

Courage

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nuku Island in Tonga



video

Thanksgiving in Tonga

We did Thanksgiving last Thursday, it went great!  We found an expensive turkey, had stuffing, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, homemade mashed potatoes, etc.  Everything was nice.  Turns out, those in the states celebrate it next week, but we had a nice celebration, watched history channel "mayflower" movie for education, etc.

We got $230 of groceries this morning - a lot for around here!!  Included some spoils like chips and cookies, and meat, which cost more than our usual fresh fruit, eggs, etc.  Since we ate 30 pineapples last time we were out, I got closer to 40 this time.  I also bought a whole stalk of bananas, and then there was a second one for $5 Tongan, which is about $2.50 - $3 US.  So I had to get it.  A whole stock on bananas for $3?  So, when they ripen, we are set on bananas too!  At the market, I bought a single bundle of yellow ripe bananas for $5 Tongan also; the kids ate it before we even left the store.  It was about 15 bananas.  So they can do some real damage when it's available and ripe for them.

We are back out at the islands for another week or so.  Great island just over an hour from Neiafu- Nuku, has a big white sandy beach on one side with a steep drop off from the shore.  You can dive right off the shore into the water.  We had a nice walk, great swim, and play on the beach this afternoon.  We snorkeled and saw a small coral reef with lots of colorful fish around it, a sea anemone with clown fish around it, and little garden eels all over one little area.  Integrity drew many megalodons onshore then, with Valiant's help, they speared them.  Intrepid, Innocence, and Vitality made a sand castle intermixed with swimming.  

Tomorrow Courage is thinking of going to anchor on the beach since it's all soft sand and a nice drop off.  He snorkeled the area to make sure there were no surrounding reefs.  He hopes we can pull up onto the beach, drop the front ladder, put the anchor onshore, and let the back hang off.  Certainly pictures will follow if it works out.  Then we can clean the bottom, a much needed task as we are starting to grow some little muscles on it.

So we are still enjoying our surroundings and finding everything very convenient here.

Cassidy and Wolfie had a great weekend, Friday going on a motorboat with 2 teens, ex-Texans, and a 16-year-old girl from Idaho here on missionary work.  They hit 3 islands, lots of swimming, climbing, running and beach play.  Then on Saturday, we took our boat for a trip to a nearby island for some surfing behind the boat on the way out, volleyball at the beach, a game of "wipeout" obstacle course for those who dared, some swimming, more volleyball, then home for the evening.  Fun weekend, perfect weather, wore ourselves out, enjoyed the teen posse!

Goodnight, off to rest for another big day tomorrow.  Tomorrow looks to be busy, active, and mostly outdoors.

Shannon