10 days of paradise, Uoleva. The most beautiful island we have experienced. Here we would spend our days in a hammock, snorkelling, reading, making notes from the stuff dribbling out of my sub conscious, drinking coffee, talking, eating coconuts, and playing scrabble.
It’s frustrating writing this, I’m bursting with so much I NEED tell everyone about this experience but I can’t articulate it and this piece would go on forever.
We walked through the shallow water to the little boat captained by Talanoah. We set off to Uoleva, meandering through the reefs on the crystal clear waters to our Island escape. In 15 minutes we were there, greeted by Taianna who walked us 20 metres from the shore to our Fale (a beach hut). It consisted of a table and a big mosquito net covering a mattress which lay on beach mats on the floor. Basic but very clean, a lot better than we had seen in various other places.The windows were shutters you wedged open with wood and the fale was tapa-lined with plastic…pest proof!
We chucked off our bags and wandered to the kitchen, a sheltered area on the sand connected to Tainanna’s house. It consisted of a gas stove (which had seen much better days), a sink and a few tables. The toilet and shower (think hose pipe coming out the wall) was off to another area which were again basic but better than a lot we’d seen in SE Asia. All we needed was there. We boxed up our noodles and biscuits we’d brought with us and was time for our togs (a Kiwi phrase we’ve started using meaning swimwear).
Our faces were hurting from the the permanent grins.
The cyclone had hit this island hard too… Everything except two fales were destroyed. Any vegetables growing more than 3 feet except coconuts was destroyed. there were two tourists from Finalnd and France here when it hit along with Kolufie and Taiana, he told me the stories about them running from house to house as the wind blew them down. It must have been horrifying seeing your livelihood blown away but he laughed as he described it.
All of the fales have hammocks under the palm leaf veranda looking out onto the ocean, washing water from a well, filtered by the sand and pumped electrically by the solar panel. Drinking water was all rain water.
In the distance was Fao the volcano and Ha’ano.
After 2 days we decided to change our flights and stay for 10 days and when we got wind that another guest was coming we made a shopping list and telephoned it over to Talanoah on the main island:
21 x 50c noodles
2 x loaves of bread
7 x $1 chocolate biscuits
1 x smallest milk powder
1 x cheapest Soya Sauce
1 kilo of Rice
1 x cocoa
1 x small bag of sugar (smallest weighing 1 kilo)
1 x jam
1 x peanut butter
…which is all the shop pretty much stocks on Lifuka. And so this was what our meals consisted of for 10 days: bread, rice and noodles except for the 4 nights Taianna cooked for us which would comprise of Hawaiian Sweet potato which is purple, Taro (another root vegetable), curried fish, fried Tuna or octopus and when the Tongas cook they cook BIG!
So what happened over the last 10 days. I started spear fishing and got pretty good at it, supplementing our rice dinners with fish. I snorkeled every reef could find, we saw turtles and and group of HUGE Eagle Rays, Barracuda, sea snake and all the usual suspects. The cyclone has killed most of the coral but here are some parts still alive. When we got to the island we set out exploring but we quickly adjusted into the Tongan way and the last 2 days were spent glued to the hammock.
We had some company on the island, Irena and Patsy from Germany and New Zealand. We were a diverse group with very different charceters but blended well, all on the same vibe. The day we left and paid Caluffy he thanked us graciously for our custom and how it will help him rebuild his home and provide a life for his family back on Lifuka too.
It made me reflect on travelling and the people you meet. It gives you a great opportunity through the people you meet. Take from the people you like but also from the people you don’t.
So why did I love it. We’d spend the morning watching the sunrise. We’d make a coffee, eat our fresh bread and chat to the others, we’d lie in the hammock, go snorkelling, have lunch and more coffee. Lie in the hammock until I felt like doing something then grab my mask, fins and Patsy’s spear and catch some dinner. Steam our fish and rice then play scrabble and laugh at the Aussie / Kiwi / German words whilst drinking hot chocolate.
These pacific islands are beautiful, we’d snorkelling in the crystal clear waters and walk back down the beach not seeing another soul. It was very much like a desert island and it was like paradise. I haven’t been to a place that made me feel like this. When you see those brochures and pictures of the idyllic beaches…this is it. I never believed those pictures could be true, thinking that just out of the frame somewhere would be a bunch of tourists, like it was in Thailand. The only sound you would hear all day and all night was the waves against the beach and this was amazing.
What makes paradise. A beautiful place with a minimal distractions, just enough to keep your brain away from boredom such as a hermit crab crawling around but nothing that would disrupt your 1000 yard stare such as a screaming child. People take your focus away from the wondrous beauty and simplicity of every thing that is around you. People around means you focus on them. I like mankind, it’s people I don’t like.
I’ve also given myself a new goal. I’m going to buy a yacht so I can sail ALL of these islands…when I sell my coffee roasters…after I start it.
oh and if you plan on coming here, buy a good knife. Scaling, gutting and filleting a fish with a swiss army knife is difficult.