Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fakaalofa Lahi Atu! - Welcome to Niue!

Niue has proven to be one of our favorite stops so far with its unusual geological formations and wonderfully friendly and welcoming people, it's hard to beat.

Kids at the Niue Yacht Club - we're now members!

In 2004, Cyclone Heta devastated many of the coastal homes and businesses. Waves reaching higher than 30 meters crashed into the West coast of the island.

Once we cleared customs, we were greeted by Keith, the commodore of the Niue Yacht Club, and given a special tour of Alofi, the main village on the island. Keith explained to us that Canadians are always honoured visitors here on the island because following Cyclone Heta in 2004, the Canadian government stepped up to plate and provided monetary assistance to help the islanders rebuild. We were shown the school, where the funds were used to build overhangs and supports.

The welcome brochure for Niue says this is NOT the place for retail therapy….how true! Just a few little shops. We did, however, have an excellent lunch at this cool little restaurant called Crazy Uga's!

As on many of the other islands in the South Pacific, the graveyards have a prominent place within the villages. It would appear that in Niue, most are right outside the churches. During Cyclone Heta, the water level was all the way up to the level of this one.

We recently learned of a GPS treasure hunt and were very excited to locate our first two treasures right here on Niue. GeoCaching is world wide and is a lot of fun. If it weren't for our search for the first cache, we would not have met Stephan, the owner of a lovely little hotel overlooking the sea.
Yesterday, the crews of Malachi, Tin Soldier and Orca III rented a 15 passenger van to take a tour of the island. We started our day at 8:30 by lifting our dinghy out of the water with the crane - this is the first dinghy dock of this type that we've encountered.

Then it was off to see some caves and viewpoints. The walk out to the caves was very rugged, as the island is all coral, the trail was very chunky and good shoes were required.

There are many sites around the island where you can climb into the coral caves and see all stalactites and stalagmites, very interesting. The water around the island is crystal clear and makes for some beautiful swimming and. We're tied to a mooring in 130 feet of water and the coral on the bottom is visible.

This morning, we watched as several humpback whales blew and surfaced around the boats in the anchorage, as close to us as 300 feet! It was remarkable. Niue is a refuge for humpback whales and spinner dolphins; I hope we get to see more of them. Check out Upps' blog to see their awesome whale pix, swimming right in the anchorage beside their boat.

Tuesday was rainy and windy, same as the past few days, but there was an early market where fresh produce could be purchased as well as some weaving. Unfortunatly there wasn't as much produce as we had hoped for but it was fun, nonetheless. Later in the morning, the kids all came ashore to join us moms and some local ladies at the town hall for weaving lessons. Everyone had a great time and the ladies even served us lunch! It was so casual and comfortable. Another fine example of Niuen hospitality.

We spent our last night in Niue at the Pacific Way which hosted a Bingo night to be followed by Karaoke. We thought Bingo would last maybe an hour or two, but as it turned out, it was a four and a half hour event. The cards are different from Canadian cards, but it's basically the same concept. The fellow who calls the numbers, calls them very quickly repeating each one twice, when you've filled your card you holler "YEAUP!" then they validate your numbers and you win a prize. Jenny won a 10.5kg Tuna! But traded it for a box of 10 chickens - too funny! The grand prize of the night was three large tuna's 1 box of 10 chickens, 1 pig, a huge bunch of bananas and three huge bundles of Taro root. It was a really fun way to end our week long stay on the island.

Now it's off to Tongatapu, Tonga to meet Steve, Mary and Shayna who are flying in on September 9th - we're all looking forward to their arrival.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I can't believe the experience you are all having! Thanks you sooo much for sharing this.

Jenny, and Jocelyn, you are truly blessed to have parents that are able to show you the world like this while your still young. Quite an education!