Hi All,

Wow…is all i can say…we thought putting up the buildings was going to be the challenging part of our Tongan adventure hehehehe…these last several 8 weeks has been very full on. I think its one of those times where we need to stop breathe and recollect our thoughts. Well I do anyway πŸ™‚ Myself, Glen and Boti have been working around the clock to get things finished. Our deadline is approaching fast and the pressure is ON!

Saying that, being here and working on this dream is a once in a lifetime amazing experience. The weeks have their ups and downs…things break…things get fixed and life goes on. Every day has its little challenges but its all part of the process and as we say “It is what it is” πŸ™‚ No amount of stress or getting flustered will change anything so when something does break or not go to plan…we think of how to fix it…and move on. Tonga will teach you patience…it will teach you to curb your temper…it will teach you that you can survive on very little and love it. So far this month things that have been broken…washing machine…glen fixed it…inverter for solar…glen fixed it…boats ..glen fixed it…chainsaw…not fixed yet but glen will fix it… Generator… glen fixed it… Glen is Mr Fix it πŸ™‚ heheheheheheh

These last weeks we have been getting the fales ready. I have been sanding the coconut wood that we have used on the internal walls and coating them with sanding sealer. I have been wearing three face masks at a time to try and not inhale any of the wood dust coming off the coconut planks. I got sick about three times in the space of three weeks…not sure if its from getting a bit run down or sanding lol πŸ™‚ But on the mend now so keep on moving ahead. I have managed to get fale 1, 2, 3 & 4 and the common fale done.Β  Glen has cut them all (over 250) and we were leaving them to dry and air a bit before putting them up. Its amazing what you learn about natural products living on an island. We can only use the lower half of the coconut tree otherwise the planks will mould. You can put them up when they are still wet but they need airflow so keeping windows and doors open in the fales is a must. Bit of trial and error as we go but advice from locals and woodcarvers has seen us through. Glen spent a long long time on that chainsaw and it finally spat the dummy….a spring inside (don’t ask me the who’s and how’s…its a spring..)it wore and snapped off. Thank goodness for our fantabulous friend Dave who has found a new one and some other chainsaw bits and has sent them to us. Just a note…you cannot get anything like that here in Tonga…so if something does break we usually have to get it fixed or parts from NZ. Thank goodness for Dave! He has been an amazing help to us.

We ran out of bamboo so we needed to get some more from Pangai to finish off the common fale and for fale 5 when we build it. Noa retrieved some bamboo for us and instead of waiting for it to dry this time Boti just cut it all down into quarter strips with the skill saw and it was a lot easier to work with. Again trial and error πŸ™‚ I measured up the common fale and cut all the pieces we need for it. I have also put them in and it is really taking shape and looking beautiful now. I decided to clean the bamboo after i put it up. It takes a bit longer but working with each panel of bamboo it gives me short term goals…not like last time..i had to clean 100 x 4-6m length poles all in one hit.

Digging toilet holes for the fales was a fun task…hahahaha…I can say that as i didn’t really do anything to aid in this process. Glen and Boti managed to do 3 out of the 4 fales in one week. It took a week or so. The holes that the toilet drums sit in are about a metre and a half deep by about a metre wide. And then the trench coming from the tank where the liquid travels through is about 3m long and a metre deep. We came up with some better ideas to put the drums in so that when it is time to empty them we can easily get them out. Oh…i did help a bit…when it was low tide i had to go to the beach and find boulders to line the bottom pipe to filter the liquids ….that is no easy task lugging those massive rocks up our beach. Thank goodness we have a quad bike and trailer so then we could take the rocks to the fale without carrying them by hand. It took me two and a half hours to collect enough rocks for one trench. Glen and Boti came to help me the next day and it took thirty minutes πŸ™‚ hehehehehe…

I think i mentioned last time that i had been fired as the leaf weaver…well we needed 1300 polar weaved. A polar is half a coconut leaf. So you select your leaf – has to be about 2m in length, a certain age, a specific flatness to the fronds and no breaks. You cut the leaf in half and start weaving. To cut these leaves in half Glen put a large steel pipe upright in the ground and by hand started to split the leaf down the middle. Then he positioned the leaf so that the pole did the rest of the work. Once this was done you cut away the end of the stem. We had a lovely local weaving for us and he was AMAZING. We have learnt a lot off him as he used to live on Uoleva. He knows a lot about the land and gave us some great tips. In as little as five or six days he managed to weave 657 pola. Holy cow bells…that was ALOT. We had to lay them out in the sun and turn them once one side was dry. I included some photos of all the leaves drying and the stages they go through. Unfortunately Cyclone Pam brought us some rain so we had to get all those leaves inside else they would be ruined. We had a few ones that were dry so we started to put them up in the fales. Boti and Glen managed to complete the leaf hanging in all four fales. WOW WOW WOW…I cannot tell you how amazing our fales are looking. Makes me want to get stuck into our house decoration but we must wait for our reward in that respect. No time πŸ™‚ Those polar have been inside/outside/inside etc in between rain spells…We finally have that lot dry and up.

The bathroom roofs have been altered again and we have a new idea for them that we came up with this week.Β  Basically the original plan was to have half under covered bathrooms and half covered bathrooms – inside outside look. However living with this inside outside look for eight months in our own bathroom has led us to reconsider this ‘nice’ idea. It is not practical…it is just wet…you get massive tropical downpours from time to time and its just not amazing to want to go to the toilet with the rain pouring down on you hehehehehehe. So we have come up with a way that still gives you that inside outside effect but keeps you dry.

Our bathroom exterior walls look amazing…its like pahlonghi meets tonga πŸ™‚ They look like they are growing out of the ground and the building has a skirt on. We used polar of the coconut tree of course πŸ™‚

WE had a blockage in the well recently which was making pumping water for showers etc a very slow process. Glen got in and dug about three wheelbarrows worth of sand out…we have cleared it now so fingers crossed it will suffice and we won’t have any further issues with it this season. To dig another six metre well will be a huge gigantic massive feat. We can’t repair the existing one if removing the sand doesn’t help. It is just too dangerous. So lets keep your toes and legs and arms and everything crossed that we don’t have to go any further with this.

One thing that i am so proud of is my papaya trees. I planted them when we arrived from little seedlings and put them up the back of our house…well where our house was going to be built. These baby papayas were all eaten by the cows that roam this island. They love papaya. I was most upset to say the least…i cursed and screamed when i found my metre high papayas had been destroyed by these massive wild black beasts. However no use crying over this….they grew back. Turns out the mean old cows just pruned my little trees and they grew back stronger and better than ever. They are now a few metres high and are….wait for it… growing actual papayas!!!!!!!!! Out of the ten trees or so i have a few are male and won’t bear fruit but majority are females and are growing strong! Woohoo!!! I know…settle down Karen…they are just papayas…but if you knew what we go through to get fruit and vegetables here then you would understand. Its not just a matter of boating over to pangai…we have to get them shipped in by ferry and then boat over to pengai and then bring them back πŸ™‚ Anyway i won’t harp on about that πŸ™‚ much πŸ™‚ Our banananana trees have finally started growing…Boti was kind enough to bring some small plants last October…they are finally starting to get a bit of height but very healthy. We have lemon and lime trees going strong in the wild jungle out the back and the guavas are coming back again too. Watermelons are just going crazy without yielding too much fruit as are the pumpkins. They seem to just keep on trying to get out of the vegetable garden and into the bush. Pumpkin plant has flowered but no fruit as yet…I have read up a bit on them and blogs say not to panic…well trust me I am not panicking lol. The watermelons have produced a few but the chickens pigs and cows eat them as soon as they start to get some girth. OH and we have 8 new tomato trees that have just started growing randomnly again in the bush. I will leave them be as the wild ones seem to grow and the ones i plant from seeds do not. Everything else i have planted just dies…the soil is crap but i will get there! Where there is a will there is a way. We will not be self sufficient for this up and coming season but hey Rome was not built in a day hehehehehehe Fanifo Lofa was not built in a day either…But if you build it they will come…okay this is what happens when Glen lets me write the blogs…I get carried away.

Cyclone Pam was scaring us for a while whilst Glen watched her path from when she was just forming with no name to when she was a week away and no one was sure if she was going to hit Tonga. Thank the stars she did not come here but for all the poor people affected in Vanuatu, Kiribati, Solomons we feel so sad for your hardships. The cyclone when it hit would have been devastating…and the months and years to follow for recovery will be so hard for these people. Our hearts go out to each and everyone affected by this tragedy. When you live in a location that is prone to these natural disasters you understand how and what these people could be going through. Life is a struggle without something like this taking everything away. I have always felt for people experiencing natural disasters but it is not till i moved here that i have a better understanding of what it must be like. Saying that…I have not experienced such an event as yet and i hope we do not in our lifetime. The cyclone 1000 miles away bought us loads of rain and filled up our tanks…and bought some wind.

The kitesurfing in the last weeks have been epic…our sandbar is gigantic…never seen it like this before. I am sure it will dissipate somewhat as soon as the trades kick in…which they have. We have been kiting alot and this season is going to be a goody…as i type i am looking at 28-30knts ESE πŸ™‚

We finally got our container with all our beds/solar/internal deco/and personal items up to Uoleva. We managed to get them to agree to bring the entire container up without having to unload it into smaller containers and then bring it up that way. However we get a phone call the night the ship is leaving saying they cant pick up the container with their 4tonne crane because our container was too heavy….hmmm i dont think so freddy! The container weighs 2.3 tonne…our stuff which only occupied half the container wasnt more than 1.7 tonne. So they said they will unload some stuff from our container..this had us in a flap of sorts because all the items were loose inside that container and we were not there to oversee them removing it. Okay i was panicking! Things go missing…all the time…so i was very nervous to say the least. A wise man said to me…nothing we can do about it now..it is what it is…there is that saying again. That wise old man, my husband, was right as always. No sense in worrying about it as there is not a thing we can do. So that being said we went to sleep and woke up ready for the big day! Glen went to Pangai to meet the ship and collected six boys to help for the day. They arrived on the ship here at Kitesurf Tonga at around about eleven am. Glen and Boti came in and we waited for the first load. I think we had about four or five loads and it only took two and a half hours! Wow! no mishaps..nothing missing…what an adrenalin rush seeing all your beds and mirrors and sinks coming in by barge resting on the sand and being unloaded…I missed all the timber being delivered here a year ago but Glen said this was a walk in the park compared to that πŸ™‚ So we now have all our stuff here πŸ™‚ YAYA! I have our little lounge too..so nice not sitting on the ground anymore πŸ™‚

We have been tiling all the showers for the fales…and doing the cement shower trays…I am finding my artistic flair by doing tile mosaics in the cement πŸ™‚ My first attempt was a fish…it looks like a baby chicken..but hey still relevant to Tonga πŸ™‚ We are getting better with this as we go along as you can see from the pics.Β  We have put in all the toilets and sinks in the bathrooms too and they look absolutely amazing.Β  Each fale has somethingΒ  a bit different and its just incredible.

We have had a new visitor come and stay with us for a couple of weeks, Peter from NZ.Β  What a lovely beautiful soul he is…wow and boy is he talented! Peter is a builder, plumber, and has so many skills & just gave us loads of help during his visit.Β  I think it is fate sometimes how these remarkable people find their way to us here at Kitesurf Tonga.Β  He put the kitchen in our common fale in…we were all dreading it for months because it was a second hand kitchen we ripped out of a place in NZ…it was all labelled but Glen and I could not really remember what went where….Peter saved us hours of agonizing ordeals by putting that kitchen in.Β  Not only did he put the kitchen in…he modified drawers and cabinets to make it all fit.Β  Peter also made the kitchen look nice…I mean its NICEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I love it.Β  I will be spending alot of time there so I am glad Peter joined us and granted us a beautiful gift of our new common fale kitchen.Β  Peter has also created our beautiful table for the common fale..what a genius! He is just putting the finishing touches on it now. Peter didnt just work he did get out to Kitesurf our beautiful lagoon most days.Β  HeΒ  had a blast jumping high πŸ™‚ We have enjoyedΒ  having him here with us and cannot wait for him to return with his family.

So what a mouthful that was….there is loads more to say but i will stop now as we are preparing for a roast pig tonight for Peter to say a big huge thankyou.Β  We get our first guests April 30th and we cannot wait to have people here to show them our dream which has now become reality! We are taking bookings now so please drop us an email if you want to come and experience kitesurfing in Tonga…or if you just want to visit and see what we have done πŸ™‚

Gallery Notice : Images have either not been selected or couldn't be found