Letters From Stardust – October

October 7, 2004 (Thursday)

Well, I was supposed to do laundry yesterday, but that somehow or another just didn’t happen. But today is the day. We were going to take it to the laundry at the Coconets, the internet place, because all you have to do is drop it off and they do all the rest. But we talked to several boats that have done that and some have lost clothes, or they came back dirty. Guess I will face the music and do it myself. Sailing Safari the marine repair place here has one washer and dryer set so I guess I will queue up and do my five loads. Surprise, I was the only one there so able to get a rhythm going and wash and dry to my little hearts content!! Cold water wash, and took about the same time, but at least I am not sitting at a bucket doing it by hand. In between loads Bobby and sat over at Mermaids and played cribbage. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Especially since it is raining……..again!!!!

Got back to the boat and got a call on the VHF from Ellen on Gypsy Wind. She had gotten an email from my mom wondering what was happening with us! We had asked Ellen to send mom and email once when we couldn’t get out on our ham radio. Mom had been to Canby to visit with Jill and I was just waiting to hear if she had gotten home before I sent her new emails .But she jumped the gun on me.  Ellen thought mom was pretty cute about the whole thing and said she would help out anytime. By this time mom had gotten an email from me so we were back in business. Cruisers are darn nice people!!!

October 8, 2004 (Friday)

Wow!! We actually got out of town today and ran out to anchorage #8. Tomorrow we will run to #11 to go the Tongan Feast at Ano Beach. Sorry about the numbers but that is how we all refer to the different anchorages because that is how the Moorings Charter Fleet Chart shows them, and that is the chart that we all use to navigate within this group of islands. If I can remember to do so I will take a picture of the chart and include it in my next set of pictures. Anyway, back to #8. We arrived just in time to get a call from Waking Dream about a beach party potluck. So much for just sitting and relaxing on the boat: parties always take priority.

About five o’clock we all showed up on the small sand spit at the end of the island. The guys dug a big old fire pit and got the fire started. Trying to keep the ants out of the food was a bit of a challenge, but then ants and picnics go together, right? We had dinner before it got clear dark, and then started playing games and just sitting back and visiting. It is fun meeting new folks and seeing old friends again. I got killed, several times, playing Liars Dice. About ten or so things started to break up for the old fogies, while the kids were just getting started. Guess which group we fall into?

October 9, 2004 (Saturday)

While the youngsters were still moving slow the rest of us starting pulling up anchor to head over to #11 to get set for the Tongan Feast. When we went around the corner we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too crowded yet. We started organizing this feast a week or so ago and when I left to back into Nieafu I turned it over to poor Boja on Sowelu. He has been fielding calls and then adding names to our reservation. Our group alone is about fifty, and that doesn’t include folks that made reservations without our help. Should be interesting to see what the final number is.

The evening started with everyone milling around and looking at all the handicrafts that the locals had displayed for sale. I, of course, found a basket I just had to have. Poor Bobby!!! Then it was time for the entertainment. The kids were absolutely adorable in their costumes and did an amazing job of dancing for us. They grease up and everyone would come forward and stick pangas on their arms. They use the money to pay for secondary education for the kid here on the island. A year of what we call high school costs about the same as the average family here makes in a year. But we have been informed that the Tongans are the best educated of all the island groups. All the kids from about age seven or eight speak pretty darn good English because that is one of their basic classes from early on. Don’t get me started about the disgrace of the American educational system when it comes to teaching kids different languages.

They do the entertainment before dinner because there are not lights except for the weak ones that light up the area where we sit to eat. It looked like the whole village cooperated to put on the event. I hope the pictures I took will do the kids justice. The dancing and singing went on for about forty-five minutes until it was too dark to take pictures anymore. Then the feast started.

The food was brought out on woven palm leaf trays about six feet long. Oh, I forgot to tell you that there were seventy of us there. They had to add and extension to the dining area we were sitting under in order to get us all in, and the band and kava bowl had to move over under a tree. Kava is a slightly narcotic drink that they make out of Kava root. I think it tastes like, and looks like, nasty old dishwater, but they obviously love it and so do some of the cruisers. One said it made his lips numb. Anyway, back to the food. On the trays were all kinds of little banana leaf packages and stalks that had been peeled and cut in half that were filled with a kind of coleslaw. We started opening packages and sampling the fare. We weren’t sure what was in many of them even after we opened them. All eating was done with your fingers. One package we opened Ben and I just sat there looking at. “What do you think it is?” “Looks kind of like fat doesn’t it?” Well, Ben finally got brave and tried it. “Hey, this is good!” We think that it was breadfruit and banana cooked in coconut milk. It was really yummy, like bread pudding!! Actually almost everything was cooked in coconut milk and was really good. Once again I think we were better off not knowing what all of them were.

The feast was much simpler than the one we attended thirteen years ago with much less food. Not sure if that is just the way they are now, or if it was because there were so many of us! Last time they had put out suckling pigs and lots more fish. BUT at least no one got sick. At the last one Bobby got deathly sick from what we think was a bad clam. He was the only one out of thirty of us that got sick that time. He avoided the clams this year!!

A good time was had by all and I think we ended the year for the village on a very up note. It is quickly becoming the end of the tourist season here. They were happy and we went home happy and satisfied!

October 10, 2004 (Sunday)

Back to Nieafu this morning for Bobby to get ready for his Dive class that starts on Monday. Waking Dream and Billabong called to say that they were meeting at Mermaids to play games since it is suppose to rain….again….still!! So in we went. There were too many folks to play Canasta so Bobby opted to return to the boat because he is about socialized out. I sat down to help Shari play since it was her first time. Ben had brought the Liar’s Dice in and when the guys from ‘Big Reef’ from South Africa came in Ben volunteered me to teach them to play. What a riot!!! They are three nice young men in their early twenties. Alex’s dad had let them take off in his boat to sail the world. Not sure what they are using for funds, but they seem to be having a great time. The only problem was that once we started playing they didn’t want to quit. Chris another youngster from ‘Twixt’ came in and joined us. The old lady and the boys!!! We had a fun time and it let me get to know them a bit. I finally, after almost three hours, had to say, “I have to go guys my husband is probably starving!!!” It was a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. Bobby enjoyed some quiet reading time……and nap time!!!

And movie time….he watched the first Lord of the Rings again since he just finished reading, ‘The Hobbit’ and all three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tonight we watched the other two. Problem??? He borrowed the directors cut for two from another boat and it was three hours long. They are leaving tomorrow so that means we watch all of them. Long night!!!!!! At least I won’t have to do that again for a while!!!

October 11, 2004 (Monday)

I packed Bobby off for his first day at Dive school. He was pretty excited!! At about one I got a call and ran back into town to meet the group for lunch. They were all chattering away about all their adventures. They had spent the morning in the pool getting used to the equipment and had a great time. I spent the day just working around the boat and enjoying some of my own quiet time. You don’t realize how little alone time we spend these days.

We have been trying to get a group together to play Cranium again, so I made a big old pot of clam chowder to warm up the divers and a group of us got together to play. We were missing Michael and Mary from DeLa Mer so it wasn’t quite the same, but we still had a great time, and the women won….again!!!!  We broke it up pretty early because Bob and K.T. have to be in dive class again tomorrow.

October 12, 2004 (Tuesday)

Bobby off to school again! I took him in and dropped him so that I would have the dinghy to get projects done. Ha!! He called at noon and I ran in to meet him again for lunch. I forgot the camera so ran back out to the boat to get it so that I could go down where they were suppose to be in the water because I wanted pictures for the website, but no joy!! The teacher put them back in the classroom to watch a video first!! Darn!!

I started back to the boat and about half way there I had a Minier’s attack. When one hits me I lose my equilibrium completely and here I was in the dinghy! I slid down so that I was kneeling on the floor rather than sitting on the pontoon and then had to figure out what to do. I knew that I couldn’t get to the boat, stand up, tie the dinghy up and then crawl up and in the boat without maybe falling and once I was in the water…..then what? Sowelu had just come into the harbor that morning and they have a swim platform on their boat so I cautiously worked my way over there. Luckily Mai was there. She grabbed my dinghy line and I spent the next fifteen minutes laying in the dinghy trying to stop the spinning!! It is like lying in the middle of a merry-go-round and not being able to stop it! Finally with the help of many handholds and going slowly I was able to get into the cockpit where I spent the next three hours lying with my arm over my eyes!! Ellen from Gypsy Wind came to my rescue with some Meclazine after about forty-five minutes, and a half hour or so later my spinning started to slow. But I still couldn’t sit up without spinning for another hour or so. Finally I was able to sit and then stand well enough that I made my way back to our boat. Thank goodness for good friends!!!

K.T. and Chris gave Bobby a ride back from class and I spent the rest of the day wiped out, which is normal after an attack. This is the first bad one I have had in a very long time, but reminds me that I need to be careful about what I eat and drink. I think I had too much caffeine that day!!

October 13, 2004 (Wednesday)

Today Bobby became a certified diver!! All six of them passed! They did three open water dives today. Bobby said the second was the best because the coral was beautiful and there were lots of fish to see! They even swam through a tunnel. On this dive they went down to sixty feet. Bob said it was an incredible feeling to be down there and even better, his ears didn’t bother him at all!! I wish I could get him to write, but he just shook his head at me. “Just tell them I enjoyed it, it was cool, and I am looking forward to getting to do some more of it.” Sounds like Bob, huh?

I spent the day sleeping off and on trying to get myself back to normal. But, when everyone passed they felt like celebrating so we all went into the Mermaid for dinner!! It was fun listening to them all be so excited about everything they had done.

To bad I still feel like a zombie. Tomorrow will be better!