Monday, October 22, 2012

Ha'afeva Island

Our next sandy beach in the Tongan Ha'apai Group was Ha'afeva Island (S19°56.448' W174°42.906') where we arrived at 15:00. This was only about 4 hours from our last anchorage and we enjoyed a great sail on a beautiful sunny day. There were 7 other boats present and 1 more arrived later, making a total of 9 including Sea Turtle.

There is a wreck of a Korean-type fishing vessel with the name Ekiaki on it close to our anchorage (S19°56.161' W174°43.578') but we did not dive it as Jordan's head wound has not quite healed. I will remove the stitches tomorrow.

We were met at the dock by a 22-year old woman named Polo, a name of which she is very proud of as she was named after her paternal grandmother. She had a basket of fruit with her and offered to walk us to the village on the other side of the island, about 30 minutes away. We noticed a few cute flying fox bats overhead in the trees.

Polo and Jordan

Upon our arrival, she pointed out all the many churches, primary school, hospital, 2 small grocery stores with wickets but no door, and the cemetery. Family members make lavishly decorated homemade quilts to mark their deceased ones' plots at the cemetery.

Highly unusual way of marking grave sites

Jordan saw some type of canister and asked if it was used for warning of an approaching tsunami. Polo laughed and said it was the church bell! It was made from an old welding gas cylinder.

Odd shaped church bell

That was about the extent of the village other than the houses and dirt roads. There was also a decrepit pier at this side of the island and Polo said that a supply ship would be arriving later on the other side of the island where we were anchored and that we were anchored on the safer side of the island.

Polo stated that there were 2 trucks and 1 bicycle in the village and she thought there were about 200 people. She complained about the lazy residents of the island who never want to work.

Polo then walked us back to the other side of the island where we invited her back to Sea Turtle. She looked very intently at everything in the boat and asked questions. We purchased the fruit in her basket from her for which she asked $1! We of course paid her a more fair price and treated her to some Oreo cookies which she had never tasted before and an ice cold Cola.

Jordan returning Polo to shore

Polo seems to be quite an amazing woman. She told us she was married for a brief period but divorced her husband when he abused her. She has a college education and taught herself English by reading a dictionary and books. She likes to paint, play tennis, and she LOVES the bush. Her dad has a taro, tapioca, mango, and yam farm. As the yams won't be ready for shipping out until the beginning of December, Polo will actually sleep outside in the bush covered by taro leaves to ward off the stray pigs from the succulent yams.

She thanked us profusely for everything and we sent her home with more treats. We really enjoyed our informative visit with this happy, local, young lady.

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