Archive for September 3rd, 2010

To Matuku Island

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

A change in the weather prompted us to leave our idyllic reef at Meama and seek a bit more shelter from the building east-southeast winds.  As we made our way from Meama to Ha’afeva, we caught a nice Mahi – the first in nearly a year.

The anchorage on the west side of Ha’afeva island was perfect for the forecasted weather.  S settled in and started on the courtesy flags for Fiji and New Zealand.  She also gained a new appreciation for the skills of Betsy Ross (who didn’t even have a sewing machine!) by making a replacement for our tattered old flag – which, in addition to sporting several holes (much like Old Glory) was, as a Tongan flag salesman in a canoe recently pointed out to us, “very small.”  K dubbed the new flag Young Glory.

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The weather calmed a bit after a couple days so we left Ha’afeva to check out tiny Patupatua Island, only about 2 miles to the northwest.  As a turtle swam by, we thought the reefs around this uninhabited island promised some fantastic snorkeling.  Unfortunately the bottom had only a thin veneer of sand over rock and our anchor wouldn’t hold.  So we continued on another few miles to the south, to Matuku island.

Matuku has one of the warmest welcoming committees we’ve ever seen. 

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Even before the dinghy touched the beach, half a dozen children came running out to help us land.  They were soon joined by a woman who introduced herself as Kauniata, the wife of the principal of the island’s school.   Kauniata must be Matuku’s unofficial guide to Tongan culture.  She took us to meet her husband, Peter, who not only is the principal, but the only teacher at the school.  He teaches 15 children covering six primary school levels.

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Kauniata then took us to her home to show us her weaving.  She had a huge floor mat that she’s been working on for nearly a year, but her real purpose in bringing us there was to show us how to wear a traditional Tongan ta’ovala , the woven mat worn by all well-dressed Tongans.  Apparently, they’re unisex (K made sure to check).

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We spent the remainder of the afternoon walking around the village escorted by half a dozen kids.  We bought them some cookies and were impressed with the equitable cookie disbursement by the older kids to the little ones.   As we were finding out, generosity and sharing among neighbors is part of the Tongan way.

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19°57.40’S 174°44.65’W   04-Sept-10 03:45 UTC