Bates Family South Seas Sabbatical travel blog

Jacques Cousteau impostor unmasked

Exemplary stride jump

Sea cave diving (honest)

It feels very strange sitting in Neiafu's only internet cafe trying to glean what happened in London on Thursday and at the same time upload more photos for the website. The frustrations I have had with the latter all seem rather trivial and parochial.

I am assuming that no news is good news from the Bates side of the family. The Manleys have all reassuringly confirmed their health and safety. Commiserations and wishes of speedy recoveries go out from this bit of Tonga.

Ness has done well in keeping you updated on our Tongan adventures. The kayaking really was just as alarming as she made out (not just Manley hyperbole) and this part of Tonga seems very distant from Western civilisation. The lack of news is just one aspect of that. However on the positive side the pace of life has slowed considerably and things are starting to feel more like a holiday rather than deadline chasing across NZ.

I completed by PADI training on Thurday and we ventured out on the sea again today. The conditions could not have been more different to last Saturday. The sun has shone and the water was placid. I had two dives while Ness and the boys had three snorkels. The diving was excellent. The first site involved swimming through a cave out into hundreds of bright yellow sea fans. The second was a forty minute cruise in the current at 6 metres depth through an "aquarium" of fish. For the second I tried out my camera and got to photo Gully and Ness snorkelling from below. The boys enjoyed the trip out on the boat but I think the sites were chosen for the divers rather than the snorkellers. I am sure there will be better in Fiji.

It is Saturday afternoon as I write and Neiafu has slowed from steady crawl to feeble trickle. Almost everywhere is shut. Tomorrow is Sunday so every good (and bad) Tongan will be in church so things will be even quieter. Actually this is probably the wrong word as there is the delightful sound of Tongan hymns audible all day wherever you are.

On Monday we return to Tongatapu but have left ourselves plenty of time as Peau Vavau, the crown prince-owned airline is predictably late but unpredictable in the extent of its temporal shortcomings.

In touch soon


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