We are fine but poor Ha’apai takes the main ‘Ian’ hit


10 Sanuli Falaite

Stocking up for cyclone Ian and fielding calls and answering messages …but happy to report the sun was shining and a there was light breeze so doesn’t feel very ominous. Kotoni had a massage with Chinese Mike as we awaiting our fate.

The Saturday markets were business as usual

The Saturday markets were business as usual unaware of the impending cyclone about to hit northern Tonga

It somehow didn't seem right to be eating my snorkelling buddies so I left them there.

It some how didn’t seem right to be eating my snorkelling buddies so I left them there.

Giant clams

Giant clams and green mangoes

You can buying everything here from moisturiser to melons

You can buying everything here from moisturiser to melons

11 Sanuli Tokanacki
Down to the Saturday fair for a quick sweep and buy some fish before hunkering down for the impending cyclone. Watched dvds, tried to get online (with some success) and read. It rained in the afternoon and the wind did pick up as darkness fell but we have had worse weather so again it didn’t feel especially cyclonic despite the wind speeds reported in the news. We went to bed feeling pretty calm as have both been through cyclones before – Kotoni in Bermuda and me on my farm days living inland from the Gold Coast.Our hearts go out to what is happening up further Northern beautifully picturesque  around the islands of the Ha’apai group where we had been for a weeks holiday whale swimming in September with Kingscliff friends Lesley and Stewart. I do hope the places we visited fared OK as the category five storm passed over their heads.

Our hearts go out to what is happening up further north in and around the beautifully picturesque islands of the Ha’apai group where we had been for a weeks holiday whale swimming in September with Kingscliff friends Lesley and Stewart. I do hope the places we visited fared OK as the category five storm passed over their heads.

12 Sanuli Sapate
Woke up to sunshine and the horrible news of the devastation on islands around Ha’apai… only a one hour flight from Nuku’alofa. The cyclone has now headed south-east and we have been spared the worst of destructive winds and sea surges :-o phew.
Two lovely young gap year volunteers came over to our place for a post Ian debrief dinner. We had met Geneva (American) and Sarah (German) on Fafa a few months ago. They have spent the last five months working at the Ocean if Light Ba’Hai International school. Mum’s Christmas cake (one of three she brought over in her 64kgs of luggage goodies for everyone) is slowly diminishing yummy slice by yummy slice.

Geneva and Sarah join us for an Ian debrief over dinner

Geneva and Sarah join us for an Ian debrief over dinner

Ha’apai photos

On a sombre note… Please spare a thought for our ‘neighbours’ in Ha’apai… and that they are safe. Everyone here has a relative or connection with someone in Ha’apai… and even further afield… ie Our Sydney friend Princess Vicki went diving at Matafanua on Ha’apai when she visited us in November. While there she befriended Ben, a ‘resident’ South African dive aficionado who is currently staying with her in Australia. They have been very anxious about his dive resort owners and their family as we suspect their home/dive facility/accommodation/fale complex has been flattened. Matafanua is right on the edge of the waterfront on the small island of Foa and the cyclone coincided with a high tide which is very worrying as the whole island group is so very flat. We stayed around the corner at Sandy Beach. These fales seemed to be made of stronger materials so we hope they fared OK… but by the pictures and the wind velocity I am not sure how strong anything would have been to cope with 250km+ winds. We have not heard much news as only two satellite phones are working there and of course being used for the recovery effort. It all feels so more real when you have a clear picture of somewhere because you have been there yourself and know the lay of the land. Lesley, Stewart and I cycled into the little town over the airstrip one day passing through the villages pictured in the Matangitonga stories. I hope this is the end of our ‘cyclone’ experience. Once again thank you everyone for your concerning messages and calls.

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5 responses to “We are fine but poor Ha’apai takes the main ‘Ian’ hit

  1. Hi Stewart… Must be one of the few villages to not be devastated so good to have some positive news amongst the bad. Malo

  2. We are pleased to see that you are all safe and well. I have been trying to stay in touch with the locals too lol…Do you remember us speaking about the girl that required our luggage weight to come back from Foa Island. Her name is Tapaita Langi Hu’akau – dont ask me our to pronounce it :-) Lesley and I friended her on face book so she has kept us up to date sort of and thats also depending on Digicel. Her husband is in the Tongan Army so he has been deployed to the Haapai Islands. Her family at Foa Island Village was speared which was very good to hear albeit she did say that almost 80% of Haapai homes were destroyed- very sad. Take care to you all Lesley and Stewart xx

  3. Mary Givney-Clark

    We have been in Newcastle over the wknd & before meeting up for a lovely dinner we watched the news anxiously looking at the weather maps with the cyclonic mass over Tonga & trying to ascertain just how close it was to you…very close. We are surprised & grateful you didnt get a bigger fallout from it..but yes the devastation from the north islands we saw on the news tonight is shocking. Worse typhoon Tonga has had in 10yrs they said. So saddened for the community..we heard of 1 life lost..a woman who was in hospital. Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your friends..I was just about to phone Veronica so pleased you have had internet & able to post this update. Take care xx

  4. Oh Dear it just sounds awful for those poor families, totally at the mercy of these climatic conditions. One does feel very helpless and there seems to be little anybody can do except send good wishes. So xxxxx to everyone. very glad you are all safe and sound XX TT

  5. Hi Sonia and Kotoni,
    So pleased to hear you are all ok. I have been thinking of you all. I saw the TV footage on the Ha’apai island group in Tonga’s central region. My thoughts are with all those people.
    tak care
    Love Marie

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