Last night we attended a typical Tongan feast on Lape Island. The island is very small and very poor, with about twenty people living in about ten single-room houses. They were hoping to raise money to repair their concrete pier and there was a nice turnout of cruisers. The whole roast pig was the only food I could identify but everything was pretty tasty including the octopus. The small local children with bad coughs were having the time of their lives with all the attention they were getting and they weren't bashful about just plopping down in the lap of any cruiser.
There's a long reef between Vaka'eitu Island and Nuapapu Island known as the Coral Garden. Yesterday we took the dink over there, anchored it in about 10 feet of water and tried to swim out past the breakers. The current was too strong and the waves too big to make it out so we waded to shore and got closer to the breakers. That didn't help. Ultimately, I found that if I walked backwards over the coral I could make progress even though the breakers would force me to lose ground every so often. Finally, I made it out past the breakers and was treated to fabulous underwater scenery. There is a huge variety of brightly-colored coral and tropical fish in every color of the rainbow. After about an hour of snorkeling, we had to face the breakers once again but at least this time we were going in the same direction.
Our plans remain a bit up in the air. There's another group of islands, called Ha'apai, that we'd like to visit plus there's still more places in Vava'u that we'd like to see. No one has given Tongatapu, the most populated island in the Tonga group, very high marks but we'll probably stop there before we jump off to New Zealand, which should be in four weeks or so.
At 9/17/2011 9:40 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°43.25'S 174°06.09'W
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