Saturday, August 23, 2014

Neiafu: the coldest winter

        It was windy here late yesterday afternoon.  GANNET is back on Rik’s free mooring close to shore, but farther out the harbor was white-capped.
        The Aquarium provided a television broadcast of a New Zealand/Australia rugby match at 8:30 p.m. and when at 8 I stood in the companionway, t-shirt and shorts were not enough, so I dug out a Polartec for the first time since leaving San Diego and comfortably rowed ashore.  
        Those who live here year round say that this is the coldest winter in Vavau they can remember, following the hottest summer.  ‘Coldest winter’ does not mean quite the same thing in Vavau as in Chicago.  ‘Cold’ here is temperatures in the low 70sF/low 20sC.  In other words:  perfect.

        I overheard another example of the relativity of values yesterday when a man said, “Our boat doesn’t displace much—only seventeen tons.”  He was being serious.

        Yesterday’s foraging resulted in Camembert cheese; a box of something resembling Kleenex—I have yet to try them; two boxes of muesli, a cereal similar to my trail mix and uncooked oatmeal, but with sugar added and less substance; mixed with the oatmeal it does provide some variety in taste and texture; small boxes of what purports to be fruit juice, but is really only sugared water with perhaps a sliver of real fruit mixed into every hundred gallons; and the worst paper towels in the world.  They shred at the touch, dissolve in water, tear unevenly, and the cardboard cylinder in the middle fell out when I was trying to put the roll in the paper towel holder.  I did see paper towels at another store and will go back tomorrow in the hope that they are better.
        I have not been able to find antiseptic wipes which I use to clean my hands.  The single tiny pharmacy does not have them or denatured alcohol.  I’m about to run out.  Maybe I should start wiping down with South Seas Rum, which isn’t bad and costs only $14 a liter.  
        South Seas is distilled in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga, and proudly proclaims on the label, which includes a native girl, a sailing ship—perhaps The BOUNTY—the mutiny took place here—and a drawing of a mountainous island and palm trees, “Since 1997.”  Which as Rich pointed out is like saying,
“Since Monday.”
        In addition to foraging during the morning and watching rugby at night—congratulations to New Zealand; condolences to Australia—I read, listened to music, and did a little light maintenance, including sewing a seam in my sleeping bag that had opened.
        Sunday here and all is quiet except for occasional singing heard from churches.  I’ll go ashore after a while and have lunch at The Tropicana while using their Internet.
        Two days ago the Internet here, always slow, came to a complete halt just after I uploaded the previous entry and I was unable to open the journal page to check it.  When I could yesterday I discovered that I had uploaded one picture twice.  I removed the second image and replaced it with the one intended, a panorama taken from the mooring at Lape.