After spending almost a week in Neiafu, where we acquainted
ourselves with the Tongan people and language (most people also speak English
in addition to Tongan), we headed out of the port city to explore some of the
outer anchorages. The Vava’u Group is a cluster of wooded islands not unlike
the San Juans or the Gulf islands (familiar islands to many sailors from the
Pacific Northwest.) Neiafu is found on the largest island, Vava’u, but there
are over thirty other islands in the group. The islands are picturesque; the
anchorages are relatively secluded; and everything is close together, making
this a wonderful cruising destination.
The first island we visited is on the far west end of the
Hunga appears to be the old fringing reef of a volcano.
Hunga almost completely encloses a lagoon inside a sunken caldera. There is a
narrow opening between the rocks on the west side, through which boats can pass
on an incoming tide. Two mooring balls appear to be the channel markers shown on charts.
A villager we met at the church later told us that building
the road was a project led by an American who spends part of his year, every
year, at the village.
In the harbor, we saw the villagers’ traditional outrigger
|"Popao" in Tongan|
....as well as some other old salts.
As we walked through the village, we noticed many scenes
typical of Tongan life. We saw two churches. Both had bell towers, which we
could hear from the anchorage.
|Bell tower with church at left rear|
|A second church and bell tower|
We didn’t find the path to the cemetery but saw it from a distance.
Colorful quilts were hung by some of the (we assume more recent) graves. School was in session as we walked by, and you could see and
hear the uniformed students reciting something through the open classroom door.
|Bell in bell tower|
Rain water is stored in cisterns on Hunga, and the majority
of cisterns there were stone or cement.
Apparently, there is no universal sewage system, because we noticed
that many homes had an outhouse/pit toilet. Corrugated tin, along with stone,
wood, and plywood, was used as a building material for homes and sheds.
The pigs on Tonga are allowed to roam free. Those we saw in
the Marquesas belonged to individual families and were tethered. I don’t know
whether the pigs in Tonga are individually owned or communal (some are
clearly wild); but in any case, pigs wander through front and back yards and
forests freely. They are much cleaner and look much healthier than pigs whose
movements are restricted by being tied up. Another consequence of unrestricted
movement might be the large numbers of piglets we've seen in Tonga!
|Corrugated tin shed|
A similarity between Tonga and French Polynesia is that there
are mangoes everywhere. The crop was ripening as we arrived.
|A common village sight|
It is difficult to anchor in Hunga due to the fact that most
of the lagoon is covered with reef. We didn’t feel like we had a good set after
multiple attempts in several different locations, so we moved on after one night in this peaceful anchorage.
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