11-7-11 – Foa to Lifuka to Pangai to Uoleva
This past week we’ve gone from islands in Vava’u to five other islands in the Ha’apai group. Snorkeling gets better and better. Ha’ano was the best with reefs in various colors, shapes and configurations. Canyons and cliff walls teemed with schools of fish. I’m really enjoying the snorkeling opportunities with Yolo and Slipaway. They’re very experienced and I’m earning a lot. During our sunset get togethers we spend a lot of time trying to identify the fish or the shells.
After a morning of snorkeling at Ha’ano, we motored to Foa Island and anchored in a sandy bottom. It was windy with protection from weather from the East but completely open on the West. We took the dinghy over to Lifuka and walked to Pangai to check in. There wasn’t much to the town with sparse options for provisions. There were no ATMS and the only bank charged $5 US to get any amount of money. We stayed a short while because it didn’t take much time to walk around Pangai, then we motored over to Uoleva. This is a big anchorage with a sand bottom and good holding. We used Ken’s anchor waypoint for the South side, 19° 51.095’ S – 174° 25.415’ W.
Now we’ll work our way further south to a couple more islands before we head to the last one, Nuku’alofa, where we check out of Tonga and wait for a weather window to New Zealand. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to travel and see such amazing underwater life. It gives a whole new meaning to shopping in nature. Now it’s shells and looking to see if they’re occupied or not.
The clothing in Tonga is really different. Men wear a tupenu which is like a sarong wrapped around the waist. Often you’ll see a woven mat called a ta’ovala wrapped on top and tied with a kafa rope. If the ta’ovala or rope is black it means they’ve come from a funeral. It’s against the law for men to go bare chested. On formal occasions or at church they wear a Western-style suit jacket. Women also wear long tupenus reaching their ankles, topped with a kofu or blouse. For formal attire they wear a kiekie or a ta’ovala, woven from pandanus leaves, which they make themselves.