More beautiful people grace our time in Tonga. Anchored in the curve of Vataeiku island, once again a visitor came to invite boats to visit their community across the bay. The little island of Lape has five families, and invited us for church and lunch afterwards.
When we arrived the next day, they greeted us with flower garlands.
We were led down the path running through the village to the church.
Adjacent to the church was the kava hut. Kava is a mildly narcotic beverage made from the root of a pepper plant and drunk socially across the Pacific. This kava huts was Lape’s equivalent of The Man Room: women are excluded from kava circles. Several of the men from our group joined them for a few shells of kava before the service.
Cruisers outnumbered local villagers about 3:1 during services at the small Methodist church. We didn’t understand the sermon, but the singing- in lovely harmonies that defy description, but bring me nearly to tears- didn’t need translation.
We found out afterwards that most of the island’s women must have been cooking during the service, because a beautiful spread of food waited for us back down by the beach. We shared a delicious lunch with villagers on pandanus mats spread over the ground. They had spit roasted a young pig, made a marinated salad from raw sea snails, yams, taro-wrapped beef bundles, breadfruit, and more… all washed down with coconut water, from young coconuts opened on the spot.
I think that the best of all, though, was the chance for us to meet and talk to these warm and wonderful people. There really is nothing that makes me happier than seeing our children made friends and play with local kids. Niall and Bear had a great time in this dugout outrigger with a few boys- sinking it, bailing it, and sinking it again and again.
Our girls were taken under the wing of new friends as well.
** These photos are all from Annie on m/v Oso Blanco… I had brought my camera, but left the memory card back on the boat! oops… and, thanks Annie. Check out her blog! It’s listed on our blogroll. **