The Elkins Round-the-World Voyage

August 30, 2000

Vavau Tonga


Dear friends here we are in the Vavau Group of Tonga, the north islands.  Beautiful, like the San Juans in Washington. When we where checking in, a local caught our attention and sold us some bread - a big loaf for $5 Pa 'anga 'e Tonga money. He then said he would take our laundry and invited us to a Tongan dinner at his house at 6:00. So we excepted, thought it would be interesting. And that it was. We were to meet him at the wharf, as we did. He had his bicycle and we took a taxi to his place. That was a sight to be seen. Kids all around, Mom on the front porch weaving a mat. We got there before Lofy and daughter invited us in. They had a nice bed with a lace mosquito netting around it and a nice quilt with painted flowers on it. The room was painted dark turquoise, and not too clean. There was a linoleum floor with a tapa pattern of brown and white. Then a plastic mat in the middle, one bought at a market. Then a feed sack with our dinner on it set for two.

They ushered us in and Loafy, the father, joined us. We talked and then he said a prayer - he is Methodist. He said eat and we would do Kava later. There was grilled chicken, pork ribs and tuna fish steak all with a Bar-B-Q sauce, and the taro was very good  and there was watermelon too. We really felt funny eating by ourselves and everyone watching us. That is their custom they said. As soon as we finished the kids took our plates on orders from dad. Then they went to eat in the other room I guess. I had brought some oatmeal chocolate cookie bars for them. I saw them with great big chunks of it eating and running around the house. I think they really enjoyed it.

I took some snap shots and the boys wanted to make funny faces and hand jesters. I had my movie camera but decided they would get too wild for that. I had some mats from Hawaii and gave it to them and some perfume hand cream and a crochet washrag. There was one little girl, granddaughter Wytalkie, 4 and Theresa, 1.  Wytalkie was angry - she pulled my hair, pinched me and wouldn't share her cake with the boys. The one year old was cute, we played and she was so gentle. Grandpa said she was so smart.

The boys 7,10,11,&12 played patty cake hand games with rhymes like the kids in the US. They play soccer in school too. The boys came to watch a video they borrowed from us - Karate Kid. It didn't work on their TV. It was a TV duped one. They had   borrowed videos from customs and immigration but they were originals, so they said they worked before. Well, Loafy proceeded to sell us things - unfinished carvings, great big tapa cloth, Lalava (skirts). Well, we were about to leave and he is talking to Dan and said sorry, but I forgot to tell you they usually pay me for the dinner. $20 each then he pressed us for the skirts $25 ea and then the laundry $25 and he gave us two sweet smelling lays at $2 ea. We were glad to get out of there. Took a little look around before we left. Pigs at the back door. Kitchen was bad, no table only floor and a cook corner.

Today we visited some boats and had a nice hamburger at a cafe on the water, was great. We took a taxi to a sawmill on the other side of town that was arranged by immigration for us. The manager was gone for the day so Dan is going back tomorrow to see if he can help out a little. They only have 20 people working there and they only work a few days a week. They cut cedar and coconut trees. The customs guy asked if he could arrange for some pine tree seeds so they could grow them here. He owns a plantation and they need wood for construction needs. I plan to look around town while Dan goes to the mill.

We drove by a cemetery and it was very unusual- there was beautiful quilts by the headstones. We just saw Flying Cloud.  He was in Samoa with us and he came a couple of days before us. He lost the top of his mast which was wood.   I bet that was scary. He is trying to find someone else to take it to New Zealand or Australia for him. Tomorrow is our anniversary too. Till Later Dan & Sandy

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