The Tongan Adventure

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gone fishin'

On Monday, after Stephen's departure, Don invited me to go out fishing with him.  Actually he said that he, Ron and Dave (a tourist in town for a few weeks) were going out and so I invited myself alone.  I've always said I wanted to have a chance to go fishing and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Heading out with our "tools" for the day

Dave (in a typical pose)

Deckie Ron

Skipper Carl

Skipper Dave

After about an hour of trawling on our way out, my rod jumped and lo and behold I caught a fish - my first one, but not the last of the day.

My first mahi mahi

After basking in the glory of the first catch, I snagged another one, this time a sailfish.  Don figures it was about 60kg which isn't bad for a first attempt.  Dave and I both needed to work to land it but eventually we got it on board.  Since it was so big, Ron had to fillet it so we could put it in the cooler.

My first sailfish

It was a biggie

A little while after that, whilst bottom fishing, I caught a coral trout but it was too small so I threw it back.  About ten minutes later the rod pulled again and I landed a more decent sized one.

My coral trout

After a long day in the sun and fresh air, with lots of exercise from the fishing, we headed back into the harbour and celebrated our victories.  Mary took a fillet of sailfish and we added sashimi to the menu - it was very popular, and delicious.  Hopefully I'll have the chance to do it again - or maybe join the fishing tournament next year.

From ocean to plate - sailfish sashimi - yum

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Great Couple of Weeks

Stephen arrived for a visit on Saturday, August 23rd.  I flew down to Nuku'alofa to meet him when he arrived from Fiji and we spent the weekend in the big city.  His flight was over an hour late but it finally landed at about six in the evening.

I was standing upstairs on the observation level and when I saw him walk out of the airplane, I almost burst into tears, I was so happy!!

On Monday, we flew back to Vava'u where Beth picked us up and the vacation started.  His first day here was a typical day in Vava'u; drinking, socializing and catching up with old friends.  We did a mini pub crawl after closing the bar and got home around midnight, exhausted.

One night we arranged for dinner out at Tapana with our friends Maria and Eduardo who live on the island and have an amazing restaurant.  You will recall from previous posts that the restaurant is guarded by a goat - Aristotle - and he was there again that night.  We went out with Gray, Jeff and Melanie, Tim and Isa, and Cindy; we had a fabulous night and enjoyed a fantastic meal.

Jeff and Mel


 Mel and Aristotle

Tim and Isa (she was really tired as she is pregnant)

Gray and Tim


Eduardo and Maria

Cindy and Maria

On Sunday, Andrew and Caryl invited us out on Whalesong and we had a "barbie" on the beach at Port Maurelle.  It was a really fun afternoon just lazing in the sun, eating and drinking. 

Abby - she loves to fish but isn't very good at it

Brad and Kiko

Caryl and Stephen

Andrew throwing another shrimp on the barbie

The night before Stephen left, we had a little going away party for him at the Marina Bar.  Gray made a delicious fruitcake (bathed in Royal Port) and we all had a few beers.  Isi, from the Coconet Cafe, gave a small toast to Stephen's safe trip back to Canada and to his return to Vava'u in the near future.  Ofa atu!!

Isi and Joe

Isi and Shyla

Mary, Alex and Gray

Stephen, Neil and Kurt

All in all we had a great couple of weeks together but, alas, all good things must come to an end.  On Saturday, September 6, Mary and I drove Stephen to the airport and he was off.  I already miss him!!!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A cold and miserable winter

It's winter in the Kingdom and in my almost three years here, I have never been so cold.  In fact, the people that have been here for years don't remember as winter as cold as this one.  Granted, it is the south pacific but temperatures have dropped to some 14 degrees overnight.  I've had to put my blanket on the bed and have turned off the fan.   In fact, one night when Mary and I got into the truck after work, we both immediately rolled UP the windows and I turned on the heater.

There has been a lot of rain (good for the garden and water tanks) and a cold southerly wind coming up from New Zealand, and the Antarctic.  Everyone in town is bundled up, and I have been wearing long sleeved shirts to keep the chill off.

Over the past  couple of days, some of the whale watch tours have been cancelled due to high winds and choppy waters; word is that it will continue to be gusty until the middle of this week.

The one good thing is that there hasn't been any snow.  I'm hoping by the time Stephen arrives (19 days from now), the weather will have improved somewhat or he may want to cut his trip short and head back to the final days of summer in Canada.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Doctors, Dentists and Vets

In July we had a visit from some Australian vets.  There were here to spay and neuter the cats and dogs (Bob Barker would approve).  Since we only get vets here about twice a year, their days were quite busy.  We decided that we should get our boys, Scooter and Big Red, fixed even though they're not really ours, they have just adopted us and have become our bar cats.

We had no luck at all getting Big Red into a cage for transport but were a little luckier with Scooter.  We got him into the cage using some smoked marlin pate that Mary had prepared a few days earlier and headed to the truck.  He was really well behaved but at the moment I put the cage in the back of the truck he started to push at the cage door and within seconds he escaped.  Perhaps he knew what was awaiting him and he thought "no way"!

Needless to say, we had to call the vets to cancel his appointment .  Perhaps we will have more luck the next time the vets are in town, whenever that may be.  In the meantime, Scooter and his brother are free to father more kittens, just what Vava'u needs.

We also had a visit from the "Pacific Angels", a multinational group of doctors and dentists that were here for a week doing clinic visits for the Tongans.  They saw nearly 800 patients per day and by the end of the week they were running out of medication.  It was great to have them here and, obviously, their services were greatly appreciated by the local population.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Conferences and Festivals

Shortly after my return, the island of Vavau was invaded by some 3000 participants to the Annual Free Wesleyan Church Conference.  It was a week long event and the town was abuzz with people and traffic.  It was good to see so much activity but it was also nice to see everyone leave so we could get back to our sleepy little existence.  

Combined with the church conference was the Tu’i Vava’u Festival and the arrival of the King for his birthday celebrations.  The Festival included a youth talent contest held in the hall beside the restaurant.  The show started at 7:00 each night with performances of traditional Polynesian dance and singing.  Mary was asked to be a judge on Thursday night, and then the finals were held on Friday.  We heard most of the rehearsals and believe me, some of the younger kids sounded absolutely incredible, lots of talent there.  The Crown Prince was impressed as well.

There was a Kid's Day on Saturday after the Talent Show finals down at the small boat harbour and everyone seemed to have a great time there.  There were water slides, bouncy castles and other fun activities for the kids.  Some of the older kids (i.e.: adults) wanted to participate too but there were a little too big for most of the events.

The week after the talent show, the Miss Vava'u Pageant was held with the finals on Thursday night.  The pageant turned into being an absolute nightmare for us at the restaurant since we had to listen to the rehearsals all week.  The music got so loud, and was so disturbing to our customers that we decided to close for the week.  Not only that, but all the woven palms that are on the side window (looking into the conference hall) got ripped down so people could see inside without have to pay the $2 admission.  Some of our tables and chairs were destroyed and it was general mayhem - I was not happy.

On the day of the King's birthday, there was a big parade through town, lots of spontaneous partying in the streets and a special cocktail party in the evening.  The King turned 55.

Most of the churches and major businesses erected arches along the streets wishing the King a happy birthday, the most spectacular (and blinding) one was put up by Tonga Power; at night it lit up with thousands of flashing lights.  We were all hoping that nobody in town had epilepsy as the lights would have  certainly given them seizures.

None of the arches were anchored so we all had bets on who was going to be the first person to drive into one and knock it over; fortunately this never happened.

Although we didn't really get any extra business with all the festivities, we did get an order for Mary's meat pies (6 chicken and 6 beef and mushroom) from the Princess (the King's sister).  The feedback we got was that they were excellent so we thought we should add "official pie makers to the Royal Family" on our business cards.  We have since received another order for 12 more when the Princess returns to Vava'u in August.  Now that's good publicity!