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Tonga continues to charm us right up to departure.

Tonga continued to charm us right up to departure.

One of the joys–so I’ve always heard–of being an author is connecting in person with readers of your book. But since myself, as well as the other two authors of Voyaging With Kids (Behan and Michael), are in traveling mode, most of our reader interactions have been virtual (which is pretty fun too).

But then again we never know where readers will pop up…even in Tonga. In early December we were sitting around in the shade on Fetoko Island. The tradewinds were way up and we happened to have the VHF radio on, just in case something exciting happened.

And then it did: a scratchy distant call came in and the boat’s name and distinct Kiwi-Californian accent of our friend Daniel caught our attention. Evangeline, Evangeline…this is Wondertime…over!

It turned out that friends we met on our Pacific crossing in 2012 were just arriving in Tonga direct from the Marquesas, making swift time to New Zealand to welcome their new crew member. A week later we were sitting in their cockpit catching up in person, and making promises to meet in New Zealand when we returned ourselves in a few months.

So we did. We picked up Wing’n it at the Auckland airport where she’d been left for us after Ben & Lisa finished their New Zealand travels aboard her. We zipped up to the Bay of Islands where Dan and Michelle had landed weeks earlier.

And boy did they ever need a copy of Voyaging with Kids:

Baby on board...literally!

Baby on board!

I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer whose goal hasn’t been touching a reader in some way, whether it’s practical advice or just putting a smile on someone’s face. I can tell you that seeing the joy on our friends’ faces, holding the proof in their hands that they really aren’t crazy for looking forward to bringing up their new child on their boat made all work we put into this book well worth it. With family members already questioning their decision to raise a family afloat, they couldn’t wait to show them that yes! the world is indeed full of floating, traveling families. I can’t wait to meet their precious work-in-progress.

Sweetheart VWK Deal!

If you’ve not been able to get your hands on a hard copy of Voyaging with Kids (and it IS such a beautiful book that I hope you have) our publisher Lin Pardey has put the ebook on sale for only US$9.99 at Amazon.com, Google Books, and NOOK only through the month of February. Even if you do have the print version, now’s your chance to grab a digital copy to take with you everywhere. Since the ebooks are in full color and image-rich just like the print version, it’s a great way to gift a copy to a family member who might be, let’s just say, curious about the whole idea of taking kids to sea.

And if you have read the book, please please leave a review on Amazon.com or Goodreads!

 

Summer's still full-on here in New Zealand...but the water's a bit more chilly than in Tonga.

Summer’s still full-on here in New Zealand…but the water’s a bit more chilly than in Tonga.

 

Dinner for eight aboard Wing'n it...thank goodness for cruising friends!

Dinner for eight aboard Wing’n it…thank goodness for cruising friends!

 

Auckland now has a Ben & Jerry's. We'll make any sacrifice to make our new 10-year-old's birthday complete.

Auckland now has a Ben & Jerry’s. Our brand-new-to-10 Leah requested we stop in for her birthday. Well, Ok.

 

My happy place: just Wing'n it

My happy place: just Wing’n it

Acquiescence

Fetoko YogaTonga time is a really interesting thing. (I even wrote about it the last time we were here, three years ago.) I don’t know if it’s the way the dateline snakes around this part of the ocean or that it’s so hot and muggy this time of year or that the people of Tonga truly epitomize what “island time” means. Whatever it is, time seems to stop here. And yet it seems like the march of days will never end. Weeks streeeeeeeetch out and it feels like our buckets are overflowing with empty hours.

Two months on a tiny tropical island is a really, really, really long time. It’s sort of like being at sea, except we’re already there. We watch the sky and the sea change, just like on our boat. We do have a small skiff and explore neighboring islands and run into town for food once a week. Our friends aboard Del Viento came by and there were bonfires and slumber parties and giggling girls running all over the place. We swing in the hammocks, squirt each other with the water pistols Santa brought. Books and books have been read. A novel draft completed. Games played. Bread baked. Stuff fixed. Movies watched. Meals cooked with mystery meat and cabbage (again). The cat is nearly bald from the amount of pets he’s been getting.

And thinking. Oh yes, I’ve been doing a whole lot of that. Trying to make sense of our lives, of the general upheaval of the past three years. I think about what didn’t work for us (a mortgage, Auckland, Common Core, shopping) and what is (living small, traveling light, cultivating real-life friendships, pursuing our interests, writing, minimalism). The problem with all this time to think is that I can imagine so many futures, so many lives worth living. But I’ve already lived a lot of them and some times I just want to go back: to our home in the woods, to our cozy little boat sailing on the sea, to the cute Seattle apartment I was living in when I met Michael at 23. But there comes a time when you have to accept that the only one you really have is this one.

2016 will be our year of acquiescence. True acceptance of who we are, what we need, what’s important to us. Right now. Some of this is practical (i.e. money to eat is up there on the list of immediate needs). Many more are intangible: more stability in friendships for the girls, more focus on my diabetes health (which travel is not so kind to). We want to live in a city again, where ideas and people collide in so many interesting ways. We’ll keep living small (the girls comment daily how they miss the coziness we had aboard Wing’n it). We want to plant some roots for a bit; this shy, introverted family needs time to cultivate deeper friendships. And we love New Zealand, despite all the challenges of living on a small island nation thousands of miles from our loved ones.

It is a lot like being at sea here, the more I think of it. Just like being on passage, I love all these hours with nothing else to do but simply be. Having spent weeks at a time at sea I know you can’t keep looking forward to the destination. You will drive yourself crazy with the desire for a cheeseburger, and a cold beer, and perfectly salted chips. No, you have to take each day, each hour, each minute at a time, focus on what’s directly in front of you before it slips by. I don’t know if we’ll ever get such a vast spread of empty days again so I don’t want to forget it, this time.

Santa brought water pistols for Christmas. Isn't he clever? (That's our lighted Christmas palm behind them.) They only each got one thing on their Santa wish lists (ebooks) but later said they got everything they wanted.

Santa brought water pistols for Christmas. Isn’t he clever? (That’s our lighted Christmas palm behind them.) They only each got one thing on their Santa wish lists (ebooks) but later said they got everything they wanted.

There's a bit of Christmas here, too. We miss the coziness of a northern hemisphere holiday, but not the crowds, shopping, traffic...I think it's just right here.

There’s a bit of Christmas in Tonga, too. We miss the coziness of a northern hemisphere holiday, but not the crowds, shopping, traffic…I think it’s just right here.

The Neiafu market. It's tomato salad for dinner. And pasta with tomato sauce.

The Neiafu market. It’s tomato salad for dinner. And pasta with tomato sauce.

They have no trouble keeping busy (as long as I ignore the "I'm bored" complaints)

They have no trouble keeping busy (as long as I ignore the “I’m bored” complaints)

Sand Cay

The Voyaging With Kids cover girls reunite aboard Del Viento, four years after the original was taken. They've grown a tad.

The Voyaging With Kids cover girls reunite aboard Del Viento, four years after the original was taken. They’ve grown a tad.

Exploring Swallow's Cave, courtesy of Del Viento (photo by Michael Robertson)

Exploring Swallow’s Cave, courtesy of Del Viento (photo by Michael Robertson)

The girls love taking care of the Fetoko animals. They know what to do as the temperatures have started soaring lately.

The girls love taking care of the Fetoko animals. They know what to do as the temperatures have started soaring lately.

Dad and daughter make bread. We don't have an oven aboard Wing'n it and are sure making up for lost baking time here.

Dad and daughter make bread. We don’t have an oven aboard Wing’n it and are sure making up for lost baking time here.

Wondertime Family, Tonga 2015

Wondertime Family, Tonga 2015 (photo by Michael Robertson)

Tonga Interlude

Fetoko from the airMonths and months ago, before we even left Olympia for New Zealand, our friends Ben and Lisa contacted us and asked if we were interested in watching over their island resort in Tonga for three months while they traveled over the austral summer.

Um, does the sun set in the west?

While we traveled aboard Wing’n it in New Zealand we communicated back and forth and eventually our plans coalesced: we would fly to Tonga in mid-November and stay through early February. In the meantime, our friends would brave the cold and take over Wing’n it down in N.Z. to do some land-traveling of their own.

We met Ben & Lisa on Waking Dream waaaay back in 2002, when Michael and I were working our way down the California coast aboard our Alberg 35 Pelican. (Yeah, those were different days.) Along with a handful of other boat crews also in their late 20s, we went on to have an epic season exploring Mexico together. While we returned to Seattle afterwards, they spent another season in Mexico, then continued on to the South Pacific. When they got to Vava’u, Tonga they fell in love with the place and stopped. They’ve been here ever since living the entrepreneurial dream: opening up a restaurant, adventure tourism company, and now their latest project, beautiful Mandala Resort on tiny Fetoko Island.

But everybody needs a break, even in paradise, so they’ve been having caretakers watch over the island the past few years while they do some overseas travel in the off-season. There’s a lot to do here, like feed their two adorable dogs Bosun & Higgs and cat Benzini, sweep the floor, make sure the hammocks and kayaks are in working order. I think we’re up to the job.

Our first view of Fetoko in over three years. Wondertime anchored in front for weeks and weeks in 2012. It's a little weird to not have her here with us.

Our first view of Fetoko in over three years. Wondertime anchored in front for weeks and weeks in 2012. It’s a little weird to not have her here with us.

There's even wifi.

There’s even wifi.

Leah scored the treehouse fale. I don't think she's ever going to leave.

Leah scored the treehouse fale. I don’t know how we’re ever going to get her to leave.

Leah in her treehouse palace.

Leah in her treehouse palace.

The girls are over the moon to have their own rooms, for the first time in seven years. I estimate we could fit 4 Wing'n it's in each one.

The girls are over the moon to have their own rooms, for the first time in seven years. I estimate we could fit 4 Wing’n it’s in each one.

Here's the view from my bed. Pretty much the same view from every bed, since the island is barely 3 acres big. I truly forgot how blue the South Pacific ocean is.

Here’s the view from my bed. Pretty much the same view from every bed, since the island is barely 3 acres big. I truly forgot how gloriously blue the tropical South Pacific ocean is.

We can't keep Holly out of the water.

We can’t keep Holly out of the water.

One last dinner with Lisa before she's off to NZ.

One last dinner with Lisa before she’s off to NZ.

And I've saved the best photo for last: I delivered a copy of Voyaging With Kids to my coauthor, Michael Robertson. He and his family aboard Del Viento have been working their way across the South Pacific this year and he hadn't seen it yet so that was great fun. It's also great fun to spend time with one of our favorite families, who we hadn't seen since La Paz in 2012. As is typical, all four girls picked up right where they left off.

And I’ve saved the best photo for last: I delivered a copy of Voyaging With Kids to my coauthor, Michael Robertson. He and his family aboard Del Viento have been working their way across the South Pacific this year and he hadn’t seen the actual book yet so that was great fun. Of course, as our girls did, his grabbed the book from him and wouldn’t give it back for an hour. It’s also great fun to spend time with this awesome family, who we hadn’t seen since La Paz in 2012. As is typical in the cruising world, all four girls (and all four adults) picked up right where we left off. They’re here for the cyclone season so we have plenty of time to catch up.

June – November 2012 Cruising Expenses

You will run out of arm strength long before you run out of money at the Tongan produce markets - this is about $20 worth.

You will run out of arm strength long before you run out of money at the Tongan produce markets – this is about $20US worth.

I promised you that we’d keep track of what we were spending during our cruise to the South Pacific and share the totals, good and bad. While I got a little behind on actually blogging the numbers, we did keep track all the way across and here are the final budget tallies.

Hopefully this will help future cruisers in planning their Mexico/South Pacific cruise budgets. I’m sure you can see areas where we could have saved a LOT of money (less beer and trips to Neiafu’s Aquarium Cafe perhaps?). But compared to what we’re spending now with a car to maintain, cell phones, marina moorage, etc. anchoring for free in front of a deserted South Pacific island munching on fresh papayas and mangoes just can’t be beat. Even if beer is $4/bottle.

 

S/V Wondertime’s June – November 2012 Cruising Expenses

June 2012 (French Polynesia)

alcohol – $305
books – $78
bus fare – $36
clothing – $91
dental care – $162
diesel – $262
eating out – $378
groceries – $1,044
internet – $131
laundry – $8
medical care -$27*
mooring -$144
museum -$12
petrol (dinghy outboard) – $39
pharmacy -$22
phone cards -$30
postage -$10
souvenirs -$493
stereo speaker replacements – $202
storage unit (annual) – $374
supplies – $122
toys – $24
web hosting (annual) – $122

total: $4,116

*This was my total bill for having an infected stye on my eyelid lanced by a French surgeon in Nuku Hiva on a Saturday night. I might be a fan of socialized healthcare….

 

July 2012 (French Polynesia)

alcohol – $176
butane/propane – $10
clothing – $25
diesel – $55
eating out – $183
galley – $18
groceries – $542
heiva tickets – $13
horse riding – $150
internet – $40
laundry – $45
mooring – $20
souvenirs – $30
supplies – $46
water – $10

total: $1,363

 

August 2012 (Niue & Tonga)

alcohol – $144
bank fees – $67
car rental – $45
eating out – $434
garbage disposal – $12
groceries – $329
laundry – $47
mooring – $142
Niue driver license – $19
Niue flag – $33
petrol (dinghy outboard) – $64
petrol (rental car) – $25
showers – $4
souvenirs – $90
theatre – $30
Tonga check-in fees – $129

total: $1,614

 

September 2012 (Tonga)

alcohol – $201
bank fees – $24
books – $49
cell phone – $30
eating out – $356
galley – $30
groceries – $456
internet – $4
ipod replacement – $230
laundry – $82
petrol (dinghy outboard) – $80
souvenirs – $23
Tonga tourist visa extensions – $120

total: $1,685

 

October 2012 (Tonga)

alcohol – $278
cell phone – $18
check-out port fee – $17
diesel – $300
dive tank fill – $12
eating out – $242
gifts – $22
groceries – $630
internet – $8
laundry – $90
mooring – $70
pharmacy – $52
propane/butane – $37
taxi – $18
water – $9

total: $1,803

 

November 2012 (Tonga only)

alcohol – $48
diesel – $270
eating out – $106
groceries – $228
laundry – $29

total: $681

 

Exploring Auckland’s One Tree Hill…free!

Big Wind at Big Mamas

If there’s one thing we’ll always remember Tonga for, its the wind here. Glassy calm days, at least during this southern hemisphere springtime, are few and far between. If nothing else, it really makes us regret not putting a wind generator on the boat.

Anchored off Big Mama’s in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu is not exactly the ideal place to ride out a major tropical depression. The bay is huge, 1.5 miles south to downtown Nuku’alofa and 5 miles of fetch to the west of us. The good thing is that the holding here is superb; it took quite a bit of muscling to crank our Rocna out of the sandy muck when the blow was over. There is an inner harbor with a breakwall you can stern tie to, Tahiti style, but we kept picturing boats piling up like dominoes as bow anchors dragged in the undoubtedly fouled harbour and chose to ride it out in the anchorage. (Thankfully, all the cruising boats whether in the harbour or anchored out  survived just fine with mostly just frazzled nerves.)

The photo to the right was taken on Tuesday afternoon. Here, you see cruisers playing Scrabble and riding the rope swing. One the far right side, just out of the picture are people swimming, taking shelter from the sweltering heat. Behind the picnic fale is a ping-pong table and volleyball court where we also spent time waiting for the weather to arrive. Mostly what we’re doing is talking about just that, the weather. A number of us were halfway to Minerva and turned around, wondering if this thing was going to materialize after all. Was it going to pass right over us as the models were predicting? How will the boats underway hold up? When will our weather window finally arrive? We are all very very anxious to finally reach N Zed.

The predicted tropical depression indeed arrived the following day. The typical SE wind shifted to the north as the depression approached Tongatapu but the wind was no biggie at around 15 knots. We sat below listening to boats underway south of us check into the Drifter’s net. Friends were starting to see winds in the 30-40 knot range. Our emotions were conflicted: we were very glad that we weren’t out in it but at the same time worried for the comfort and safety of the other vessels out there.

While we were reveling in the warmth of our safely anchored home, we heard the wind pick up outside, suddenly. Michael ran up to grab a bucket we’d left on the side deck. The next thing I knew he was shouting down at me “It’s blowing 50 knots out here!”

Here’s the story from our log book:

Noticed wind picking up here a few minutes before 1800 then suddenly a wall of wind hits us along with absolutely deluging rain. Can’t see a thing outside – everything white, spray and mist covering the surface of the water. Run around turning on GPS (off because listening to radio and it causes interference), depth sounder, engine. Boat absolutely pummeled by wind. Solar panels break free from tie down lines, flapping up and down. Dinghy hoisted alongside boat flies up against rigging as we’d feared it’d do. Wind hits starboard side, heels WAY over to port, rail underwater! Shit flying across boat below (totally messy from day in – not prepared for this type of blast at all!)

Wind then catches us on port and stuff flies in other direction, including HP laptop onto floor! M. finally gets oriented and motors into wind, but anchor appears to have held (have all 300’ of chain out in 60’ of water). Yell out to girls in forecabin if they are OK, they yell back they are fine, both in Holly’s bed. Tell them to stay put. M. is outside, soaking wet, securing solar panels and lines that got washed over. Rain leaking in ports, pours down back hatch when I open it to look out at wall of white.

Wind shifting from N to S to W so quickly. It’s probably only 5 minutes of crazy wind then calms to ~25 from W. Boats talking back and forth on VHF; everyone OK and in good spaces still. Aleris reports highest windspeed was 74 knots! Lightening now passing directly overhead, very scary.

Get busy cleaning up crazy mess now that worst is over – broken glasses on floor, entire bookshelf dumped on floor in forward cabin, toys, food, all covered with layer of rainwater. Counters had been emptied, cupboards flown open that we latch while sailing. Incredible!

Help M. secure sun cover flapping around but huge lightening flash overhead and we quickly jump below. Girls have moved into our bunk, playing with puppets and flashlights (now getting dark). They are just giddy with all the excitement.

What happens next is really eerie and kinda freaks out all of the boat crews. The wind dies down within an hour and it is completely still. The wind ceases, the sky clears and the stars come out. Like nothing had happened at all. Apparently the low passed right over Tongatapu after all and here we are right in the middle of it. What would happen next?

By 2 am however the wind indeed picked up again, and right from the west too as was predicted. With 5 miles of fetch the waves built quickly and by daylight Wondertime was bucking up and down unpleasantly in the 4-6 foot wind waves. We had 30-45 knots the whole livelong day. While I was cooking breakfast there was a pop and a shudder at the bow: our snubber had parted after holding our anchor chain for nearly 18 months straight. Michael and I spent the next two hours fashioning a replacement bridle-type snubber (our snubber attaches at the waterline to a bow eye and had simply exploded due to age and/or strain). The strain on our bow was immense and we had to get the replacement snubber lines just right so they wouldn’t chafe on our bowsprit whisker stays or bobstay. Long story short, it was a long long day constantly checking the snubber for chafe while being doused with sea water spraying over the plunging bow.

Happily the wind started to subside by dinner and we awoke the next morning to another peaceful sunny day with only a light SE wind rippling the water around us. We made it.

Tonight, the crews of at least 15 boats gathered again at Big Mama’s. While the shorter crews of the six (!) kid boats here chased each other around the palm trees, this time the adults chatted about how we’d fared during the big blow and celebrated making it through safely. And of course talked about the coming weather: it looks like a fantastic week to sail to New Zealand has finally arrived and all of us will be heading out tomorrow or Monday. We wished each other good luck and made plans for our reunion in Opua.

Both our bow snubber and our Tongan courtesy flag have seen enough wind, thank you. Besides these two items, the only other casualties onboard were two glass drinking glasses that broke. Our dinghy, solar panels and even our cheap old HP laptop (which I’ve wanted to throw to the floor myself many times) survived just fine. We later learned that the 75 knot wind blast was likely a microburst.

Making Friends With Uncertainty

Family and friends keep asking what is next for us, when this jaunt across the Pacific comes to a halt in New Zealand sometime in the coming weeks. We keep saying we don’t know, which is exactly true.

Right now, there are a few things we know for sure however:

  1. Cyclone season is upon us soon and it’s time to get out of the way
  2. We are really, really, really anxious for a draft IPA, jeans, a hike in the woods, and a real supermarket
  3. Our cruising kitty is down to its final dregs and it’s time to go back to work for a while

For a couple of people who like to have at least the next few years of our life mapped out, that’s not much of a chart.

We have far more questions than answers: will we be able to find work in New Zealand and then get the proper visas? Will we like NZ enough to want to stay for a few years? Forever? Will NZ like us? What city will we be living in? How is Leah going to adjust to regular school after a year of free-roaming school? How will we adjust to wearing socks again? Having cell phones? Having bills? Will we want to return to the Northwest and if so do we want to sail back or sell the boat and fly ourselves home? If we sail back, can we swing by Mexico? (I really really want a taco.)

We’ve been around long enough to know that the answers to these questions will be sorted out in time. Decisions will be made for us, things will happen. And we’ll have to make some tough decisions, too. We haven’t always been comfortable with so much ambiguity about the future; in fact, a few years ago we would have been a nervous wreck with so much uncertainty ahead. But now it feels rather invigorating, exciting even, at the unknown adventure that lies ahead, still.

Maybe it’s because we’re getting older and hopefully a little wiser. But I like to think that cruising has shown us how to be flexible, to go into the unknown without expectation and with an openness for whatever happens next. Most importantly, having faith that everything will turn out all right.

There is another thing we know and it actually surprises us a little, after being so positive a few months ago that we’d have had our fill of sailing after all these miles. We’ve been here in Tonga, spending a lot of time looking back over the past 16 months kind of disbelieving that we are practically at the end of this journey already. We’ve enjoyed the introspection that comes with being perched on the brink of the unknown. I thought for sure I’d be done with this ocean sailing traveling thing by the time we got here. But our quiet time in Tonga, with so much more of the world to see (Fiji! Vanuatu! Thailand!) just over the horizon has shown us that we haven’t got our fill at all.

Maybe what little we do know for certain is enough: that with a few more coins in our pocket, we could keep going and going and going.

Lost in the Islands of Tomorrow

Why hello there.

I’ve stepped out from underneath the palm trees we’ve been lounging under here in the Vava’u Group of the Kingdom of Tonga for a few minutes as it’s rather time to send you an update.

First off, the most exciting thing to happen on our sail here was that we got to skip Thursday and sailed straight into Friday which the girls where thrilled about (being Friday movie night after all). Somewhere along the way here we crossed the International Dateline moving us a day ahead of all of you back in the U.S. While you’ll be waking up to Friday morning it will already be Saturday here and well into the weekend.

Which means nothing here to us, of course, excepting that I have to remember to get to the amazingly fresh and gorgeous (and we’re talking California-gorgeous) produce market before it closes by noon as it does on Saturdays. Other than that, we’re living the old cruiser’s life of “every night’s a Friday night, every day’s a Saturday.”

This amazing scattered group of islands – there are 60 of them – are nestled together like puzzle pieces in an area only 16 x 18 nautical miles. You weave through them, around them, through channels and there’s a spot to anchor about every few miles. The whole group is surrounded by reefs that keep out any annoying ocean swell and it’s like sailing and anchoring in the Gulf Islands again. Only with palm trees and turquoise water and the soft warm breezes I think I’ve written about before. You can reach just about every anchorage in two hours or so. In the past two weeks, we’ve been to three of them.

This place doesn’t affect everyone the same way, but to us, it’s called us to slow down, stop for a while and just experience the life and place around us without the sense of movement we’ve become so accustomed to. Our first few days in Neiafu, the main town here, were spent catching up with boatloads of friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for months. Just about everyone heading west passes through Tonga sooner or later and there have been grand kid-boat reunions here.

With Wondertime loaded down with delightful fresh produce from the local market, the likes we haven’t seen since La Cruz, we headed out to the islands. Or, one island in particular, that of our amazing longtime friends Ben and Lisa who we met in California while we were all on our way to Mexico in 2002 and sailed all over with that winter. They continued on to Tonga in their boat Waking Dream in 2004 and have stayed here ever since, opening up a number of businesses over the years and becoming a true part of the community. They currently have a lease on an adorable 2.5 acre island where they are busy living and building a small restaurant and eco-lodging amongst the palm trees. In their spare time they run the non-profit Regatta Vava’u coming up here in a few weeks.

We’ve been anchored off their island for the past week and have had a blast watching them get to know our new crew members as well as hearing their stories of life on a Tongan island. The girls, of course, adore Ben and Lisa as well as their island home. Countless hours have been spent just talking and pontificating and reminiscing and watching the palm trees sway. We’ve shared many meals together with Ben and Lisa, their local friends, and our cruising friends that have stopped by as well. We’ve danced under the clear light of the full moon while Ben – still the party king — spun tunes on his DJ gear. Michael has helped out with several of the countless projects underway on the island. The girls and I have napped in a hammock. We’ve read, daydreamed, had scavenger hunts. The beach has been combed for shells, many times. The girls have swung on the “hip ball.” We’ve messed around in boats. One clear night, we sat on a roof watching enormous flying foxes swoop overhead in the dark and listened to the crickets sing.

You never know what will pass by when you stop and watch and listen for a while.

The Wondertime Girls in Neiafu, Vava’u