August 18, 2011

Tonga Time

Tonga is lovely—we can see why people enjoy cruising here and why the charter fleet is so busy. The Vava'u Group—where we are is made up of dozens of islands which are protected by reefs. You can spend an entire visit moving from anchorage to anchorage (most are only a few miles apart) and never venture into the open ocean.

It's all rather tame.

Tame is nice though and we've been shifting anchorages as the whim hits—pulling up beside tiny white sand beaches, lush jungles and rugged reefs. We've visited caves, dinghied within meters of a mama whale and her calf (humpbacks come to Tonga from Antarctica during the winter to mate and give birth) and snorkelled in clear water. Evan even rescued a couple of fatigued fishermen who were separated from their boat while snorkelling for sea cucumbers.

Most of what we've seen, and where we've dropped the hook, has been planned by Maia. Like most cruising kids she schools year round. While we aren't using a formal curriculum we are keeping track of what is covered in her grade (she thought it was rather cool that while some kids study the early navigators in books, she's actually anchored in the same harbours they anchored in and has been greeted by the decedents of the people who greeted those early explores).

For the most part Maia's education comes from delving into the culture, history and environment of the country we're visiting. She's discovered that there are 171 islands in Tonga and that 91% of the 100,000 inhabitants are Christian. But she also learned that there is a rich mythology here—and Tongans believe that the islands were fished out of the sea by Maui, one of their demigods.

The coolest part of her learning is how relevant she finds it—frequently one of us (or a cruising friend) will ponder a detail about the place we're visiting and Maia will have encountered the answer in her studies and be able to fill everyone in.

Today's lesson is going to be beachcombing—followed by a swim and maybe some ukulele as the sun goes down.

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Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Sounds just perfect. I love warm shallow water and being able to see the crabs scuttling along the bottom. In a past life I was a manatee I think. Thanks for sharing with me the love found in travel and different cultures.

Kyra and Rick said...

Love it. What a fabulous way to learn and grow.