NOTE: This continues on from the http://www.zoochat.com/1814/hix-goes-tropical-again-samoa-pt-286331/ thread. This thread picks up the story after 30 hours on board the PB Matua cargo ship. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Day 1 - Wednesday, 22nd August I woke early in the morning to find we were not far from Fakaofo, the southernmost of the atolls. Shortly after 7am the large flat-bottomed aluminium dinghy (or barge) set out from shore to the ship. All of Tokelau's atolls are surrounded by reefs, outside the reefs the water is too deep for anchors, so there is no way for the cargo ship to get to the concrete wharf. So each atoll has a barge that goes out to meet the ship and passengers and cargo are transferred that way. It took three hours for the operation to be complete, with several trips from the barge. From Fakaofo it only took another three hours to get to Nukunonu, arriving about two in the afternoon. http://www.zoochat.com/1820/fakaofo-286970/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/fakaofo-286971/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/barge-its-way-out-meet-boat-286972/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/unloading-cargo-286973/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/barge-returning-fakaofo-286974/ Feeling better, I had spent this time in the lounge watching the TV (the bunkbed by this time was hurting my back, and my internal organs had been jostled and settled so much they weren't happy either). First on the TV was a crusades movie about the battle for Jerusalem - lots of people getting skewered on swords, beheaded, set on fire etc. Then a French movie about the three musketeers - more skewering of people and hangings. This was followed by a Thai movie about a small village in Siam three hundred years ago about to be attacked by a marauding band of 1,000 thieves, when three friends in 2006 slip through a time portal (in their car) and helped the village defeat the bad guys. More blood and guts, swords, firearms, bows and arrows, people on fire etc. The next movie was B-Grade American movie from the 1980s - Golden Temple Amazons. Lots of topless women running around the jungle. This was turned off after five minutes because "there were children watching". Apparently dismemberment is OK for kids, but bouncing boobies are not. Around this time we arrived at Nukunonu, which was my stop. I went downstairs to pack my few things into my little backpack, straighten up my bunk, finish my drink and make sure I'd left nothing behind. As I went back upstairs to await the barge I heard the unmistakably dulcet tones of David Attenborough - walking into the lounge I found they had put on an episode from Blue Planet. I'd sat through several hours of crap and they put on the good stuff just as I was getting off! I jumped onto the barge with a number of other people getting off here too and was soon standing on solid ground (a relief, too). Then I had to wait for my suitcases which had to travel as cargo. They would be loaded onto the barge with all the other items coming ashore - stems of bananas, boxes of apples, 50 crates of beer, 20 crates of Scotch Whisky, bags of carrots, onions, cabbages, lettuces, UHT Milk, tins of spaghetti, and baked beans, boxes of eggs, plastic food containers, pots, pans and cutlery, corrugated tin, plastic pipes, two chest freezers and dozens of other unlabeled boxes and building materials. Plus several suitcases, bags, boxes and woven mats. Unfortunately, my bags arrived on the last trip, and Customs and Immigration had gone home by the time it got to shore at 5:30pm. http://www.zoochat.com/1820/nukunonu-village-286976/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/pb-matua-286978/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/disembarking-pb-matua-286977/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/barge-heading-nukunonu-286975/ http://www.zoochat.com/1820/wharf-286981/ On my arrival I was met by Pio, one of the government workers I'd been in email contact with, and he had some bad news for me: the two hotels were all full. Some solar specialists and their families had arrived on the previous boat and had occupied all available rooms. This was a blow, because I had nowhere to stay. But Pio had taken care of that - I would stay with his cousin, Mika. Mika had actually just come up on the boat with me from Samoa - he'd been one of the people I'd seen outside sleeping on deck in the rain. I learnt later that he had been throwing up which is why he stayed topside. And he was very happy to have me stay at his house. With his mother. Not quite what I was after, but I didn't have much choice. While waiting, I wandered onto the shallows of the reef to see if there was anything of interest. The reef appeared more bereft of life than what I'm used to seeing, but I did see a few fish, sea cucumbers, shells, crabs and an octopus (which I would have missed if he hadn't squirted ink when I walked past). http://www.zoochat.com/1820/view-reef-286979/ http://www.zoochat.com/1821/octopus-286990/ http://www.zoochat.com/1821/octopus-286989/ http://www.zoochat.com/1821/octopus-286988/ It had been raining in Fakaofo but now the sun had come out and was beating down strongly. Even though there was a breeze it was still very humid. So I was pretty sweaty by the time I met Mika's mum, Maliana. Who doesn't speak English. But she's a lovely lady who smiles and laughs a lot. Especially at me, for some reason. After unpacking I went for a walk around the little island (or motu, as they are called) looking for seabirds and good snorkelling sites, arriving back at sunset and just in time for dinner. My first sunset in Tokelau was obscured by clouds on the horizon, but hopefully I would see a better one in the next two weeks. http://www.zoochat.com/1820/sunset-over-nukunonu-286980/ With darkness came some insects - and the geckos. I spent a few minutes photographing some of the beetles that were in the house, and a beautiful green moth with translucent wings before dinner was ready. http://www.zoochat.com/1821/moth-286986/ http://www.zoochat.com/1821/asian-house-gecko-hemidactylus-frenatus-286985/ Dinner was interesting. A piece of fried trevally (which was very nice), a large piece of boiled taro and a boiled banana in coconut milk. And Mika also had a piece of the fish that still had the head and tail attached. Mika had lots of questions for me and I found answering them when there was a pectoral fin sticking out of his mouth a bit of a challenge in concentration. I ate all the fish and banana, but only got half way through the taro. Mika said we have vegetables tomorrow night. Hix Photo count for the day: 34 taken, 0 deleted. NOTE: In case the last few paragraphs have given a false impression, let me be perfectly clear: I am incredibly privileged to be staying with a local family, and humbled that they would take in a stranger without question simply because he has nowhere else to stay. While I would prefer a hotel - for a variety of reasons, imposing on people's privacy and daily routines being one of them - I will certainly make the most of my stay with Mika and his mother and hope they don't mind too much my returning soaking wet several times each day, or lazing around the house at midday when it's too hot to think.