On Friday morning we announced we were leaving for Fiji on the morning radio net. A few minutes later, a fellow boater came by in his dinghy and told us that the top headline of the morning was that Fiji had just declared martial law and warned that maybe going to Fiji wasn’t such a good idea. Fiji has had ongoing bouts of political unrest since 1987. We read the news and decided that the situation wasn’t really that bad and decided to go as planned.
On the note of political unrest, we should probably mention the situation in Tonga. Tonga was probably one of the most stable places in the world until recently. Over the last few years, there was growing dissatisfaction with the ruling monarchy’s corruption, and the people wanted more political power. Tonga does have a parliament, but the majority of the politicians are chosen by the king, not the people. Last year the long time king died and his son became the new king. There was civil unrest and violence in the capitol city, Nuku’alofa, as people demanded more say in the government. The unrest never spread to the other islands, and seems to have died down, at least for now. The shopkeepers in Vava’u all tell us that tourism is down significantly this year from last year, despite the fact that there was no unrest in Vava’u.
At 0930, we pulled up to the customs dock to check out as we had been previously told. Upon arrival, we were told pulling up to the dock was unnecessary and Eric just needed to take our passports to immigration. We had been warned that the rules change frequently in Tonga and to just go with it. Eric walked over to the immigration office. There is only one immigration officer, and he was at the airport checking in the flight that had just arrived from Fiji. He was expected back at 1230. Of course, lunch hour started at 1230, but by 1345 (1:45 pm), we were cleared out and ready to head to sea.
We are happy to report that this is the smoothest passage we have ever had. The seas have been nice and calm at only 3 feet, with an occasional bigger wave now and again. Even the bigger waves are not bad and we haven’t had any dramatic rolling. The temperature is mild, which helps make the overall trip even better. There is no moon right now and we have had heavy cloud cover at night, so the nights are pitch black. Adrienne has spent every waking moment looking for whales, and is disappointed to report that she has not spotted one yet. She is also disappointed about the lack of stars and pretty sunsets.
We crossed over to the eastern hemisphere at 2156 (9:56 pm) today, which is another exciting milestone for us. At some unknown point, we also crossed from Polynesia to Melanesia.
Here are some more answers to blog questions:
Q. What is a Tim Tam?
A. The best prepackaged cookie in the world. http://www.arnotts.com.au/products/TimTam.aspx
Q: You said once when you were in Moorea that going out to eat is more work than cooking. How can that possibly be true?
A: Going out to eat usually takes several hours. We need to get in the dinghy to go to shore. Often, it is a fairly long ride to shore, sometimes rocky and wet. In most places, we land at a dock or sea wall. In a few places, such as Moorea, we land the dinghy on the beach. In French Polynesia, there is a lot of coral and rock near the shore, so to land the dinghy on the beach we had to get out of the dinghy while we were still 10 yards from shore and carry the hundred pound dinghy through knee deep water over the rocky ground to the beach. Once on the beach, we had to drag the dinghy far enough up the beach to ensure that the boat wouldn’t get washed away at high tide. After landing the boat (whether dock or beach), it is usually a long walk to a restaurant. Service is generally slow in French Polynesia. Then, going back, we do the whole thing in reverse, this time in the dark. Easy to prepare food is generally much faster and less work than going out, especially in Moorea.
Q: What happened to Christi’s dairy issues?
A: We started eating organic a couple of years ago. At first, Christi didn’t touch dairy, but over time she tried a little, then a little more, etc. She found she could digest organic dairy products fine, although regular dairy products still made her very sick. We have come to the conclusion that Christi is allergic to some additive or hormone in regular milk, not lactose. Most of the dairy in French Polynesia comes from France and New Zealand. All the dairy in Niue is from New Zealand. She has not had a problem with anything dairy in either country, so neither France nor New Zealand must allow whatever it is Christi is allergic to in their milk. In Tonga the dairy products come from a larger variety of places, and there were many times in Tonga where dairy products made her gassy, but not sick.