Underwater Recovery

Last November I went snorkeling in Shallow’s Cave with a group of volunteers who were still in training here in Vava’u.  While we were in the cave, I let a friend borrow my mask and snorkel.    Unfortunately, the snorkel came loose and ended up at the bottom of the cave, some 60-80 feet below.   That was the last I saw of the snorkel but my mask survived.

Since the loss of my snorkel, I’m been using one that was left my a former Peace Corps volunteer.  I don’t like it as much as the one I had, but it works.

Several weeks ago, I was talking with my friend Riki, who owns Riki Tiki Tours, a dive shop here in Vava’u.  I briefly mentioned to him that I had lost my snorkel in Swallow’s Cave.   Monday, I was sitting at Aquarium Cafe when Riki comes walking up with my snorkel in hand.   He had taken some people diving in the cave and found it on the bottom.  

I was amazed…not just that Riki had remembered that I had lost my snorkel, but that he found it four months after I lost it and that it was still there.  It’s in great shape and I look forward to using it again.  Thank you Riki!

A Great Week in ‘Eua

I just got back from spending a great week on the island of ‘Eua.   The bank sent me there to assist with a workshop and to train the staff at the branch.  I also met with some clients during my visit.  But the real fun started Thursday night when my friends Shawn and Peter arrived from Tongatapu.   We started our long weekend together by meeting up with the ‘Eua Peace Corps volunteers at the only place in ‘Eua that sells beer…the Hideaway Resort.

Jason, Bria and Heather at the Hideaway on 'Eua

On Friday, Shawn and I, along with my bank counterpart, Folau,  got to see a lot of the island thanks to a guy from the bank who offered to show us around.  

Steve and Folau at the Natural Land Bridge in 'Eua

One of our first stops was at the edge of a giant cliff.  We drove right up to the edge of the cliff…too close for comfort, before we stopped.


But the real scare came when it was time to leave.   The driver popped the clutch and we lurched forward slightly before going into reverse.  Shawn and I just looked at each other briefly, both with a look of panic when the car went forward.  Thankfully, we had a good driver and we didn’t end up at the bottom of the cliff.

Next stop was the natural land bridge.   It’s a giant bridge carved out by the ocean.

Shawn at the Natural Land Bridge in Eua

We saw a lot of other great sites before we met up with Peter and Jason, who lives on ‘Eua.  From there we headed to the north end of the island for a beautiful hike.

Steve, Jason, Shawn and Peter on their hike around 'Eua

Saturday, the four guys were joined by Ashley, Heather and Jenny for a hike to a place called Smoker’s Cave, which is a giant waterfall.  You can not see the bottom.

Peter, Ashley and Steve admire Smokers Cave Waterfall on 'Eua

We also made it to the two lookouts on the east side of the island.

Hanging out on the overlook on 'Eua

From there we went to a place called Rat’s cave.   This was my second visit to Rat’s cave.  I came a year ago with my friend Craig, who has now completed his service. 

Steve offers to help Shawn enter Rat's Cave

To get inside the cave, you crawl on your belly through a cave to a small opening.  You then have to drop down inside the chamber below.  But because you are at the edge of a cliff, it looks like if you slip, you will go down the side of the cliff.  It can be a bit intimidating, but once you have done it once, it is pretty easy the second time.

Jason oitside Rat's Cave with Steve in the shadows

The guys all camped Saturday night while the women went back to town.   Peter and Jason put hammocks up on the lookout and slept under the stars while Shawn and I stayed in a tent nearby.

Jason strings up a hammock at the overlook on 'Eua

It was a great trip and I highly recommend 'Eua for anyone who really wants to get away.  There are only two places to stay and both are pretty modest, but the scenery and seclusion are well worth it.    From the time we started our hike on Saturday until we returned to the main road on Sunday, we did not see another person.

There are numerous caves, some which have never been explored.  It is the only Tongan island to have parrots and it has species of plants found no where else in Tonga.

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