Thursday, October 25, 2012

Family Portraits on Ha'afeva

The island is lovely. The water is clear and in varying shades of blue. The anchorage is very rolly. And the people on shore are quite friendly. Especially an enterprising young woman named Polo. Polo, aged 22, lives on the island and has befriended cruisers. She speaks quite good English and meets cruisers at the wharf dock when they dinghy ashore. She offers to take them into the village for a tour; get them mangoes (now in season and everywhere), papayas or bananas; and, do laundry. We took her up on the laundry offer and she charges "whatever you think it is worth." She said she has a machine and then line dries it. Because the power on the island only runs from 6 pm until 1 am – she does the laundry at night then hangs it out in the morning. We dropped off a bag at 4 pm (Polo met us at the dock to take it) and we got it returned the following afternoon. She gave us a tour of the island along with our friends Matt and Jean from Superted V.

On the island tour, Michael took some photos of some of the locals weaving traditional mats and some small children. When he came back to the boat, he printed them up and when we brought our laundry in, he gave them to Polo to give to the families. She was sorry she didn't get a photo with her dad – so we told her that when we picked up our laundry, we'd take a photo and print it for her. When we got the laundry, we walked back to the village and to Polo and her families' farm and home. Michael took several photos of her, her mom, dad and brother. It made us realize how we take for granted having pictures of our family and friends – and in some places it is a rare commodity and much treasured. After the family photo session, we got some mangoes, Tongan onions (which Polo pulled right out of the ground!) and a lemon right off the tree. The onions are like green onions/chives. We tried some tonight and they don't have a very strong onion flavor.

The islanders farm a wide variety of foods. The traditional taro is most abundant – but they also grow tapioca, tomatoes, green beans, onions and yams. The fruit trees are plentiful with bananas, mangoes and papaya and some citrus. There are also lots and lots of pigs on the island. On our walk yesterday they were rooting along the side of the road and running from one side to the other. Lots of pigs in yards and little piglets running around. We were told that it costs $100 pa'anga for a piglet – so they are a valuable commodity. Cows are also on the island and of course, the flying foxes. We see these critters leave the trees around sunset each night – and they must be fat and happy right now with all those ripe mangoes to nibble (perhaps our bananas on board are safe!)

Polo was a lovely young woman and a pleasure to get to know. She has a great sense of humor and jokes with the cruisers. She trades fresh fruit for things she needs or would like. Her mom asked if I had any perfume on board that she could have. I had given Polo some hand lotions, soaps, and shampoos – and sent along a small perfume to her mom. We do like to support the local islands that we have the pleasure to visit. After all, they are allowing us on to their home islands...but we do prefer buying things from them or using a service they provide rather than just giving handouts. We think they prefer that as well. However, we do enjoy giving a gift to someone who has been nice to us or has gone out of their way to be helpful.

We did enjoy a nice snorkel yesterday after our walk around the island. It was a little rough with big waves and a surge – but the underwater life was quite remarkable. The coral was not as fabulous as on Uoleva – but there were so many new and colorful fish and critters. Barbara saw a moray grab a fish and Michael discovered several new varieties he hadn't seen before. It was a "successful" snorkel.

The nights have not been too restful thanks to the constant roll. We will hopefully head out to another anchorage tomorrow. All the other boats left this spot today so we are sitting alone in this place – but we had to wait for our laundry. Hopefully the weather will be clear enough for a morning departure.

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