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Friday, October 31, 2008

Nearing the end of our time in Tonga

October 23rd we arrived at Malinoa Island in the Tongatapu group. We had read in the cruising guide that this was an island not to miss because of its natural beauty. It was lovely and the water surrounding it was awash in alternating brilliant and pale shades of blue, dotted with coral. Frank, Christine, Sally, Glen and I dinghyed to shore for a little excursion. We walked the beach chatting and picking up shells, and before we knew it the guys had gone on ahead so we girls continued leisurely
strolling along, scanning the water's edge for precious gems. We eventually looked up to discover that we had walked the entire periphery of the island and had arrived back at the dingy. It was not a very large island after all. We spent just one night at Malinoa and in the early morning made our way over to Big Mama's at Pangaimotu Island. It is but a ferry ride from here to the Capital city of Nuku'alofa. There are a few places to "Med Moor" along the wharf in town but it is filthy, rat & bug
infested and not a good place to make water. Several boats opt for the wharf because it is certainly easier to get to town but it is not for us.

Big Mama's is a small resort with a very good restaurant and lots of amenities. There isn't internet; well, there kind of is for those who want to use Big Mama's only computer but it is very expensive and you are vying for time against some 30 other yachts. Big Mama's husband, Earl provides the shuttle service to town, arranges laundry services (prices still too outrageous to ponder), trash removal, and activities for us. We arrived on Friday, October 24th. Big Mama's was abuzz with activity.
She made an announcement that Friday was game day (competition), ending with Happy Hour at 6, followed by a buffet feast for the very affordable sum of 20 Pa'anga per person. The exchange rate is very good for us right now giving us about a 50% discount. We would have loved to participate in the games but we had to first take care of business. We took the shuttle to the town wharf along with several others, and then walked first to customs to get checked in. The line was long so we decided to
forego that process until Monday and instead headed off to DHL to pick up our long awaited deliveries. Thank goodness our bearings for the main sail had arrived as had the "loaner" Sat phone. (We had sent our NEW Iridium Satellite phone back with the Martins in July for repairs.) The Sat Phone Store, who is allegedly repairing ours, seems to have misplaced it. Now logic would dictate that they just send us a new one, right? No. They sent a rental to my brother, and in his name, which we may
borrow until ours is located and repaired. As my daughter would say: "Whatever!". We now have a working Sat Phone! Of course, we paid duty on our deliveries and had to sign lots of papers, present lots of documents, ID's and wait for Customs to clear the items so we killed time for a couple of hours in a local Pub while waiting for clearance. After a couple of hours we picked up our stuff from DHL,then returned to Big Mama's to join the festivities on shore. The buffet dinner was very good and
quite varied. Prizes were awarded to those who had participated in the afternoon games and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday there was another hoopla at Big Mama's...a bring your own meat for us to cook and we provide the accompaniments for only $10 (Tongan). We scrambled to shore to buy some chicken to take, visited the downtown area and browsed through the open air market. My daughter and her sisters would have loved that market! The bargains are to be had here in Nuku'alofa. Frank and I then went in search of internet. We didn't carry our laptop because that would have been quite a long haul. The walk
to town from the wharf is a couple of miles. We found there is internet here, ranging from $8/hr to $3/hr. The first stop we made was the pricey one and the slowest. I managed to log onto Yahoo!, read 5 emails and before I could reply to any my time was done. We desperately needed to do banking and bill paying so we traversed the town seeking decent internet, finally stumbling upon Friends Coffee Shop and Café that offered not only an excellent lunch but internet access for only $5.50/hr. We took
care of online business and then left emails alone. We can do that from the SSB on Destiny. In fact that is how we update the website, via an email sent over HAM radio frequencies to our blogs.

Sunday I spent the entire day baking bread and other goodies to freeze for our passage. I am learning to do things I never intended to make a habit of or into a hobby for that matter. I now bake bread, muffins, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls and buns from scratch. Half the time the yeast is good and half the time I must toss it. I have been fortunate so far in that none of my flour has been infested with weevils or worms. We did have some garlic pepper develop living things inside but that
is the extent of our creepy crawlies in the galley. We still get random visits from ants but nothing has hatched onboard as far as we know. Frank worked on "guy boat stuff" and we stayed on board to watch probably one of the worst movies we have ever seen - Cloverfield. It is a good thing we bought it in Tonga for only $3 pa'anga! By the way, this movie thing is a hoot! The Chinese stores sell them. We thought at first we had hit the jackpot! But soon discovered that these are bootlegged DVD's.
Some of them are still relatively new, such as Dark Knight. In fact we purchased that one and cracked up watching it while on the movie itself we could hear gasps and laughter and people eating, and then bodies would get up and walk in front of the "camera". The quality was so very poor that we eventually realized someone had gone to the movie with a video camera and videoed it from his seat! In fact he was rude enough to "pause" it when he got up to go for snacks and to use the men's room.
Hence we really have no idea what happened in the movie because it was stopped and started so many times. We ended up throwing away about half of the ones we bought. The ones that weren't videoed in the movie theater were obvious illegal copies having words written all across the top and bottom, such as "premier only not legal for sale or rental", or blurred spaces across the bottom of each frame that was someone's bad attempt at dubbing over the words of warning. Bad, bad, bad! Cheap entertainment,

Monday we did the check-in dance. The Tongans enjoy sending us back and forth to the same offices telling us that we are in the wrong place. If we drew a diagram of where we went to get our fuel permits and papers stamped it would look like a bowl of spaghetti! 3½ hours after we began we finally had gotten checked in and had ordered and paid for 200 gallons of diesel, which we were told would be delivered in 55 gallon drums to the fuel dock at 9:00 AM the following morning. In fact, Morning Light
and The Dorothy Marie were also slotted for the same time frame, from 9-noon. This would be interesting and another new adventure for Destiny.

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