Location: Neiafu, Tonga
After a week of sailing S/Y Argo and her crew safely arrived in Tonga, all happy to be in sight of land. Everyone was ecstatic to have banana pancakes for breakfast, a welcome change to the underway breakfast of cereal. After clean up, we got into what we like to call BA (boat appreciation) to give some love back to Argo for transporting us safely on yet another passage, and up until lunchtime the crew went about cleaning and organizing everything below and on deck. Though the afternoon was looking quite dreary, all the students got their bags ready and walking shoes out to explore the town; because of the rain, most opted to seek shelter in cafes and sip on warm drinks (or smoothies!) and get in touch with loved ones via the ever-elusive internet. Instead of having dinner aboard, we caught taxis and made our way to the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden for a feast and traditional Tongan performance. As the lids were taken off serving platters, everyone’s eyes got bigger and mouths salivated at the delicious smells and beautiful arrangement laid out on the table. The food served was all local cuisine, from yams (usually served to the king!) and plantains to white snapper with papaya chutney and a roast suckling pig for the main course, and banana custard and coconut almond cakes for dessert. During dessert, we were treated to a cultural dance and singing performance, complete with the traditional garb, a tapa, a material made of mulberry tree bark worn by both men and women on the islands of Tonga. Music was played and, though full from the feast, everyone got to their feet and joined the performers in dancing the night away, feeling most welcome in the Friendly Isles.
A quick note to parents loved ones, and all followers of the S/Y Argo trip log: though it may look like we’ve skipped a day of our adventures (Day 34), really we’ve just become international time travelers (crossed the international date line). To us, Day 34 did not exist; when we went to bed on a Thursday, instead of waking up on a Friday, we woke up on a Saturday! I hope this isn’t too confusing!