Monday, October 19, 2009

West is best

The more we move westward, the more I like the places that we visit.
The arrival in Neiafu, or rather in the Vava'u group of islands is very
beautiful. During the night, I had slowed down to make sure we would not
arrive before daylight, and in fact we arrived at the entrance at
sunrise, that is at 6 o'clock local time, bearing in mind that we had
move the clock back one hour and the calendar forward one day.
When you arrive at the entrance to the port of Neiafu, do not trust your
GPS or you will sail right over a hill on your starboard side. But if
you trust the range at the entrance and your radar, you will be OK, it
is very easy in the daytime, with plenty of water everywhere.
Shortly before 8, we were tied up at the main dock waiting for the
authorities. They showed up as expected at 8:45 and everything went very
smoothly, much more than I expected. We had been told that they would
inspect our food, remove all fruits and vegetable, and so on. Nothing of
that sort. The only disconcerting thing was to see the Immigration
Officer show up wearing a skirt. We will discover that many Tongans
dress that way.
Then we started looking for a mooring. The bay was full of boats, either
staying here for the hurricane season, or waiting to leave for New
Zealand, or boats belonging to the Moorings for charter. So it took some
time to find one, but eventually we did and we were able to settle in
before lunch time.
We then went for lunch at the Yacht Club and started enquiring about
Internet Connection, before going to town to identify the various
supermarkets (only a few, very small, owned by chinese and not well
There are many Internet supplier everywhere, but they all depend on the
TCC (Tonga Communication Company) and apparently they were having major
problems and internet was down most of the time. I have learned in
Tahiti to be patient in that respect.
One obvious thing as we walk around town is that here, there is no way
you could pretend that you could be anywhere else. You are in the
kingdom of Tonga where people dress, behave and interact in their own
unique way. For me very refreshing to get out of my occidental cocoon
and plunge into a new and very different culture.
Facilities in the harbour are quite good. At some of the moorings
suppliers (Moorings, Sailing safaris), you can go to their dock and get
fuel and water. The other have water too. Prices are reasonable for most
things. The exchange rate is 53 dollars or 35.65 euros for 100 tongans.
After a few purchases of non perishable goods, we get back to the boat,
preparing to go out again for dinner as it is the night of the week at
the yacht club. But I feel tired and I let Jean-Francois and Claude go
ashore while I stay on the boat to sleep.
On Saturday, we visited the farmer's market, took our laundry ashore,
and did some shopping in the chinese supermarkets, taking whatever we
felt was safe and reasonably palatable..
We again spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a good internet
connection, but again, everybody depending on TCC, we were having no
luck. So we went back on the boat for a nap before heading out again for
dinner at the Aquarium Cafe followed by a brave expedition in the ONLY
night club of Neiafu, where we did not feel we wanted to spend a lot of
On Sunday, we had booked a taxi to visit the island. Communication with
our driver Aki was not very easy. But we went almost all around the
island and saw that there was not much to see. Since it was Sunday,
almost everybody was at church, which are many.
We had lunch at the Mango cafe then back on the boat for few minor
tasks, including writing the blog. In the evening, we did not feel like
going ashore again and settled for a chicken noodle soup and early night.
These last three days have been quite busy and I still think that this
was the best stop so far since Balboa.

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