November 2 - 5, 2005
Ha'afeva was a nice surprise for us. We went there because it provides a relatively secure anchorage in a variety of conditions, so we thought we would explore and dive the surrounding islands with the confidence of knowing we could duck back in to Ha'afeva if conditions deteriorated.
We knew that the island was inhabited (population 252), but we had not specifically planned to explore this island itself. But we did go ashore, and we are glad we did.
We went ashore planning a quick walk-around, and it became a bit more. These are definitely the friendliest Tongans we have met yet! We had not been on the island half an hour when a young woman invited us to her home, and we made plans to return the following day. We stopped to talk with the nurse-midwife at the health center, and she, too, invited us to a feast the following day. We declined since we had already made plans, but within an hour on the island, our social calendar was full.
The kids were great. Tongan kids love having their pictures taken like no other children we have seen anywhere. They have seen enough digital cameras that they know to ask to see the shot as soon as it is taken, and they don't ask for prints. But they are great hams. We met one very shy young boy, John, who seemed uncomfortable talking with us, but he didn't want us to leave either. When we said we were leaving, he climbed a coconut tree to get us drinking coconuts and maybe even to show off a bit.
We also met two teenagers with whom we traded some t-shirts for some papaya, mango, yam, and bananas. They gave us so much that we had to return some to them so it would not get wasted.
Our friends, Jim and Helen, on SV Gaia were also anchored here when we were, and we spent a very nice evening on their boat having drinks and dinner. We really enjoy spending time with them. We share many values, and it is great fun to share our thoughts and experiences as we go along.
But Bud got a bee in his bonnet about heading south, and we left without doing much of what we had hoped to do. We did not visit Kayfour's home, and we did not explore/dive the surrounding islands. But at least we did have one great day among these most-friendly islanders.