I met a few young people at the street fair and was invited to have afternoon beers on their boat. The cruising community is dominated by the 50+ crowd, so it is always exciting to meet young(er) people out here (as far as I am concerned, 30 is young). We had a good time sharing stories, most of which reminded me of how easy and mellow I have had it aboard Rutea.
The activity for the evening was a pub crawl through the town of Neiafu. It started at a bar up the road a ways, where I finally met up with my homies on S/V Architeuthis (whose dinghy I lost at Punta de Mita) and have not seen since Mexico. It felt like a homecoming - even though we are thousands of miles from home. I remember Christine telling me, "see you on the other side of the world!" as they said goodbye in Mexico, and alas, it has come true. Not that I doubted it...
Throughout the night I met a bunch of interesting people, most of whom I do not quite remember. A few people stand out, including a Swedish couple who are both 26 years-old and left Sweden two years ago, crossed two oceans, stopping at Easter and Pitcarin Islands, saying, "Ya, it was cool, but no big deal, you know?" Right, no big deal to make it this far on your extremely tight budget with very little experience on a teeny tiny boat. This couple is a testament to the fact that anybody can be out here if he or she wants to be. If you want it enough you can make it happen.
It's interesting, most people I meet out here have some sort of charisma about them. I mean, you couldn't be some slacker without ambition and make it all the way here (except if you are getting a free ride from your parents...). Granted, I meet some people who are a bit out there or slightly off their rocker, but what those people lack in charisma they make up for with gumption. There are very few boring people out here.
Back to the crawl - which became more of a stumble (due to the rough streets) after the 5th or 6th bar - we ended up at Tonga Bob's, where a drag show was put on by the "Fakaladies". It is surprising how accepted and common transvestites are in Polynesia, especially in Tonga where people are so conservative and religious. The Fakaladies put on a good show for all the palangi cruisers, and really are quite convincing women except for their huge shoulders and square jaws. It was an interesting ending to a fun night.
This whole week is filled with silly events ranging from land based contests to a few boat races, culminating in a full moon party at the end of the regatta. Basically there will be copious amounts of drinking, conversing, and partying in general. I told you that the cruising crowd is mostly 50+, but man, they can party. At least half of them could drink me under the table no problem. I could make an excuse - that I am trying to keep my wits about me because I am trying to do my dive certification online in the midst of all this madness, but really, they are hardcore.
As well as getting my dive certification so I can keep up with my friends who are all advanced divers, I have been doing a bit of snorkeling around here. The water is a chilly 80 degrees here (freeezing) so I might have to pull out the old wetsuit. People keep saying, "Just wait until New Zealand..." It makes me cold just thinking about the place. The snorkeling I have done has not been amazing, but there are cool fish and in some places the visibility is supposed to be 100+ feet. There are also tons of underwater caves that I am looking forward to checking out. There is also allegedly some surf that is not supposed to have "kamikaze" level waves, so maybe I will be able to get some of those. There is also the Tonga vs. All Blacks (NZ) rugby game tomorrow night. Sorry, Kiwis, but I gotta root for Tonga while I am here.
Anyway, we will be in Tonga until we leave for New Zealand around the end of October, but it does not sound like I will get bored any time soon. Stay tuned for more adventures.
At 9/8/2011 1:38 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.80'S 173°58.91'W
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