Last weekend the Peace Corps Volunteers that live on my island group were all invited to Mark and Alissa's fale (house). Mark and Alissa live on an outer island so we were extremely excited to receive an invitation to spend a weekend with them. On Friday we piled into a boat with our Peace Corps lifejackets, sleeping bags and backpacks and headed toward Nuapapu.
The boat ride took about an hour and a half, but felt like 10 minutes because of how beautiful it was outside. On the way we stopped at Swallow's Cave (pictured below) and drove the boat right into the cave. When we arrived at Nuapapu we hiked up to the village and were greeted by many of Mark and Alissa's neighbors. They were so welcoming! The boys created a make-shift grill and we ate hot dogs and burgers for dinner.
We woke up on Saturday morning to another hot and humid day in Tonga, but it didn't matter because we spent the day on the water. Re-applying SPFs as often as we could remember, we jumped back in the boat and headed to Vaka'eitu (a deserted island near Nuapapu). We hiked to a secret coral reef and spent the later part of the morning snorkeling. I kept having "I can't believe I live here" moments. Part of the time I thought I was a character in Finding Nemo. Socool. We ate pb&js for lunch and a special treat - Pringles!
Then we journeyed back to the boat and headed towards Mariner's Cave. We stopped back at Nuapapu to pick up two Tongans that knew how to get to the cave, giving Harrison just enough time to ride a horse.
Mariner's Cave is located on the edge of an island and can only be entered by swimming under the water and through a tunnel. At this point, we had spent enough time in the boat that I was entering the early phases of sea sickness. Everyone else made it into Mariner's Cave except for me. I was the one who was sleeping on the bottom of the boat. Everyone eventually made it back safely to the boat. We then returned to Nuapapu and had just enough time to bucket bathe and prepare for a get-together. This concert was put on by members of the village of Nuapapu in honor of Mark's 26th Birthday and the Peace Corps who visited Nuapapu last weekend. It was amazing.
Complete with banjos, guitars, ukuleles and dancing with spears!
On Sunday morning we hiked to Matamaka (where Mark teaches) and sat under the 'Ovava trees right on the water. We chatted about life and friends and America and then made our way back to Nuapapu. We then went to a neighbor's house to eat roasted pig and many root crops. It was a morning full of fellowship and fun!
It was a wonderful weekend and I can't wait to go back and visit this little village in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.